This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War.
Undoubtedly the biggest movie of 2018 (scoring over $2 billion at the worldwide box office), Avengers: Infinity War has now also been voted the best in our writers’ annual films of the year poll.
The culmination of 10 years and 18 movies, Infinity War represented a milestone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was also a huge achievement for directors Joe and Anthony Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, who triumphantly pulled off a feat of cinematic plate-spinning hitherto undreamt of.
The sheer scale of Infinity War is staggering. A sprawling adventure set between Earth and various other outer-space locations, the film features a line-up of around 30 superheroes and series regulars. The fact that the writers and directors manage to successfully juggle all those balls, while delivering a satisfying pay-off to a decade’s worth of shared-universe set-up, is nothing short of a masterstroke.
What really makes the film work, though, is that underneath all the MCU trimmings, novelty team-ups and superhero side quests, lies a relatively simple – and suspenseful – race-to-collect-the-gems tale. The collective power of the Infinity Stones – and their potential for universe-wide mass destruction – means the stakes are about as high as they get.
Infinity War’s ambitious tapestry inevitably meant that some characters felt somewhat short-changed but, for the most part, everyone got their chance to shine – no mean feat given the bulging cast list. The film is full of the kind of joyously exhilarating, punch-the-air moments you’d expect from a huge crossover event: from a resurgent Captain America (Chris Evans) stepping out of the shadows to save his pals as Alan Silvestri’s stirring Avengers theme kicks in, to Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) electric entrance to the Wakandan battlefield wielding his new axe, Stormbreaker.
And then there’s the film’s villain, Thanos – a Big Bad teased as the MCU’s most formidable foe ever since 2012’s Avengers Assemble. Mo-capped brilliantly by Josh Brolin, the purple baldie was given almost as much screentime as the heroes, and provided the Avengers with a genuinely frightening nemesis worthy of the build-up.
Played as a sort of deranged, all-powerful eco-warrior, the Mad Titan outmatched our heroes at every turn, which only served to ramp up the film’s tension. The scene in which Thanos is oh-so-nearly de-gloved by Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spidey and the Guardians is a thrilling nail-biter, if only because you’re genuinely fearful of what happens if they fail.
And fail they do. As Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa unknowingly predicts before the climactic battle: “Thanos will have nothing but blood and dust.” It’s a bold, shocking, emotional cliffhanger of a finale that feels refreshingly risky for a Hollywood tentpole, as half of Earth’s mightiest heroes fade away one-by-one. It’s so bleak and melancholic, in fact, that even the perpetrator of the devastating final snap isn’t gloating (“What did it cost?” asks a young, Soul Stone-trapped Gamora. “Everything,” Thanos laments).
Can the Avengers reverse the destruction and defeat Thanos? We’re guessing so, otherwise 2019’s follow-up – Avengers: Endgame – isn’t going to be much fun (the upcoming Spider-Man and Doctor Strange sequels are a bit of a giveaway, too). But it’s how they’re going to come out on top that’s got everyone speculating furiously. One thing’s for certain: Thanos will return. And we can’t bloody wait.
Here, then, is our complete top 20 movies of 2018…
1. Avengers: Infinity War2. Black Panther3. Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse4. Mission: Impossible – Fallout5. Blackklansman6. A Quiet Place7. Annihilation8. A Star is Born9. The Shape of Water10. Hereditary11. Lady Bird12. Coco13. First Man14. Crazy Rich Asians15. Love, Simon16. Game Night17. You Were Never Really Here18. The Endless19. Widows20. Ant-Man And The Wasp
So there you have it: another year, another batch of great movies. Can 2019 top it? Well, there’s already a load of films on the release schedule that we’re massively excited about, so hopefully we’re in for a happy – and movie-stuffed – new year.