It has been 6 years since we first saw Thanos in the post credit scene for The Avengers and ever since then the build-up to Infinity War has been happening with almost all new Marvel films, and it is finally here. This was the first time the Russo Brothers have moved off the Captain America franchise, although Civil War was a crossover event movie. That said nothing has ever been done on the scale of Infinity War with virtually all of the MCU characters to date coming together in various combinations throughout the film.

Infinity War follows Thanos as he strives to collect all the Infinity Stones, 5 out of the 6 of which have previous been seen in the MCU. Where the really excelled for me is the time we get to spend with Thanos, learning his motives and getting to understand him as a character. After six years of build up to him being the primary villain it was a big ask to make him live up to that hype, but boy do they manage it. A large part of that can certainly be put down to Josh Brolin’s performance, which is wonderful, and manages to bring powerful moments to such a huge, imposing character. There are two or three scenes in particular that he has with some of the Avengers that some of the best, rich character moments in the entire MCU, let alone Infinity War. And it made sense for Thanos to take centre stage rather than most of the Avengers.

That is not to say that these beloved characters don’t get moments to shine, but most don’t have big character arcs through the film, save one of two with connections to Thanos. Instead so much of the joy of these characters is seeing the new pairings or combinations they come up with interacting together. I have always felt that was the joy of these crossover events, and it’s fantastic to see the likes of Stark and Strange or Star-Lord and Thor butting heads. Some of the characters get a little more to do, and more focus than others, and who that is may surprise some people, but almost every major character gets some kind of moment, and even a lot of the supporting ones get theirs as well.

One of the smart moves for the film was the inclusion of the Black Order, referred to in Infinity War as the Children of Thanos. One of the principle criticisms of the previous two Avengers films has been the fact that the foes they have to fight have just been a generic mass CGI army. And whilst one of these does get deployed in the film, by having these specific recognisable characters for the heroes to go against it kind of alleviates that problem. The stand out for me is certainly Ebony Maw, the magic user, although Proxima Midnight certainly has her moments as well.

Now it is a long film, around 2 and a half hours, but honestly with this many characters and so much to fit in it has to be. To give all the heroes time to shine, whilst also making Thanos into a worthwhile and brilliant villain, plus fitting in the story of him collecting the Infinity Stones it was always going to be a long. But because there is so much to pack into the 2 and half hours it never feels like its dragging and never really feels like it’s rushed. We are thrown nearly immediately into the story, but there are plenty of moments where it stops to let the audience breathe, and have some truly great emotional moments with the characters.

Obviously the film promised huge, dramatic moments, and whilst I certainly won’t spoil any of those here, they definitely come. There are things that will shift the future of the MCU, and whilst it manages to tell a brilliant contained story, it certainly sets up next year’s, as yet untitled, Avengers 4 brilliantly. I cannot wait to the continuation of this story, particularly after the tease in the post credit sequence.

Avengers: Infinity War has really been the culmination of everything in the MCU from the past six year, since The Avengers, and arguably even before that, but boy does it deliver. To see this many comic book characters all in one film is truly special, and I loved absolutely every second of it. It is epic, funny, heart-breaking, compelling, and absolutely everything you’d want from one of the biggest film events of all time. It’s fair to say that this is right up in the upper echelons of the MCU, maybe even right at the pinnacle.