The reaction to Avengers: Infinity War from fans has been extremely positive, with Marvel devotees loving the epic scale of the story and the dark prescience of the ending. The same cannot quite be said for the critical response, film critics having a slightly more divided reaction to the tentpole blockbuster. Rotten Tomatoes has the film as certified 'Fresh' from both critics and general audience, the two scores at 84% and 92% respectively, but Metacritic, which uses a much more involved and accurate collation process for reviews, has the average score at a distinctly lower 68%.
While still positive, critical evaluation sees far more 3-star reviews, meaning most of those approvals come with caveats or hesitation, far from the enthusiastic reception critics have given other recent Marvel installments. While the divide between the general response from the two parties isn't as pronounced as with, say, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it's one worth examining in light of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a franchise.
“Critics” and “fans” (running with the idea there's a difference) can have a somewhat strained relationship, to put it lightly. It's become part of the ritual whenever a film with any kind of hype comes out that some camp of fans will take it upon themselves to very vocally disagree with how critics have misread the movie and should be fired from their jobs. Sometimes this unrest spawns from deep divisions within the fandom itself, as we saw with The Last Jedi and Batman v Superman, where voicing a hot-take for or against guaranteed some level of vitriolic pushback from embittered fans with a vendetta. Other times, like this, there's a more clear-cut divide as reviewers and the general audience come away from the work with distinctly different experiences.
Infinity War Is A Huge Film From The Biggest Franchise Ever
The MCU is the biggest film franchise of all-time, and we're not just talking how much money its made (but it's conquering there too). In terms of installments and recurring characters and settings and world-building, Marvel's now 19-consecutive-film run is unrivaled, and by quite some margin. That's taking in seven disparate series and the big phase-ending crossovers, of which Infinity War is the penultimate. And as the penultimate crossing-over of the all the heroes from across this ever-expanding universe, Avengers 3 has a lot to juggle. Like, a lot to juggle, bringing dozens of arcs and bits and pieces of foreshadowing to a head in a stand-off between good and evil that somehow outdoes everything that's come before and gives everyone on-screen a moment to shine.
Avengers: Infinity War is the epitome of a franchise film. It's the grandest realization of episodic storytelling and franchise studio production we've seen from Hollywood and that makes it a difficult thing to discuss critically. This creates an inherent division in critical consensus because if a critic doesn't like the MCU generally, they probably didn't like this and if they do then they did, and in either case constructing a review is difficult because so much of Infinity War comes from other films. Reviewing a movie means reviewing the work as it is but talking about Avengers 3 as stand-alone undersells the fundamental ideas behind its creation and talking about it as this grand sequel detracts from contextualizing it as its own movie.
And Avengers: Infinity War is filled with references and in-jokes and little bits of fan-service, so much so that seeing it in a packed theatre is a legitimately thrilling experience in and of itself. It's a movie meant to be seen with a crowd at any possible opportunity. This is a film made to play to a certain demographic, designed to be thrilling, funny and dramatic in all the ways MCU die-hards have told the studio they enjoyed from previous features.
But when you divorce that humor and indoor baseball from a full screening and keen personal interest in the subject matter, the whole thing can seem totally impenetrable. Just like tuning in during a big season finale, if you're not already into it and involved, nothing makes sense and there's very little primer to catch you up. And while it's important to acknowledge how much people who are into Marvel's output will like it, that only goes so far for something that may otherwise go completely over your head if you're new.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019