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Avengers: Infinity War
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It’s a marvel ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ never spins out of control

A three-ring circus on a roller coaster inside a Ferris wheel.

That’s what it feels like to watch “Avengers: Infinity War.” With so many moving parts going in so many different directions, it’s a wonder (or should I say marvel) that the movie never spins out of control.

In fact, by the end, it reaches a still point unlike anything I can recall in the Marvel universe. After a 2.5-hour crescendo of sheer mayhem, “Infinity War” ends on a surprising grace note of contemplation.

But never fear, action fans, the sequel of all sequels, aka Avengers 4, is already in the works.

In the last Avengers film, the Avengers had been torn asunder, split into two warring factions of superheroes. In “Infinity,” they call a truce of sorts and begin working together again because the villain of villains, Thanos, threatens to take over the universe. Brilliantly played by Josh Brolin, Thanos has two of the universe’s six Infinity Stones and is on the hunt for the remaining four.

Take this scene from the film:

Bruce Banner:Thanos. He’s a plague, Tony. He invades planets. He takes what he wants. He wipes out half the population. The attack on New York, that’s him.”

Tony Stark: “What’s our timeline?”

Banner: “No telling. He has the power and space stones. That already makes him the strongest creature in the whole universe. If he gets his hands on all six stones, Tony…”

Dr. Strange: “He could destroy life on a scale hitherto undreamt of.”

Stark: “Did you just seriously say ‘hitherto undreamt of?'”

The smart-aleck jokes at the end of that scene are typical of the snarky humor of Iron Man and Doctor Strange, and many of the other superheroes populating “Infinity War” (21 of them in all in my unofficial count). And upping the humor quotient even more is the inclusion of the Guardians of the Galaxy gang. Starlord, Rocket, Drax, and Groot all crack wise throughout the film, and especially when they’re joined by the jokey Thor.

All the humor is useful in breaking up the film’s otherwise non-stop battle scenes, as various configurations of superheroes take on various configurations of bad guys.

It’s a remarkable feat of storytelling to be able to juggle over two dozen characters and half-a-dozen storylines with such ease and clarity. I was almost never confused as to what was happening at any particular moment.

And Marvel is smart to cash in on the uber-success of “The Black Panther.” Many of its principals show up in “Infinity War,” and a climactic battle even takes place in the one-time isolationist Wakanda. This last fact leads to a quip from a usually super-serious Wakandan warrior.

“When you said we were going to open up Wakanda to the rest of the world this is not what I imagined.”

“What did you imagine?”

“The Olympics, and maybe a Starbucks.”

Yes, Starbucks has even invaded the Marvel universe.

Another lesson well-learned from “The Black Panther” is the value of a strong, intelligent villain. Killmonger had a well-thought out social philosophy that informed his actions, a philosophy that made every bit as much sense as his rival King T’Challa. Likewise, Thanos is not just a megalomaniac. He’s a megalomaniac with a drastically utilitarian philosophy of life, all life, in the universe. He may be a monster, but he’s a fair-minded and dispassionate one, and that makes him all the more intriguing.

The untitled Avengers 4 movie is scheduled to open a year from now. It’s intended to not only wrap up the storyline of “Avengers: Infinity War” but also complete Marvel’s original 22-movie story arc. The odds are it will be very good, but I’ll be happily surprised if it matches the ambiguity and poignancy of this latest offering.

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