This top of this article contains minor spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, followed by a clearly marked spoiler-filled section that dissects the movie's ending. Proceed with caution.
The internet did well by ribbing Avengers: Infinity War's self-laudatory branding as "the most ambitious crossover event in history." But, by and large, the Marvel team, led by writer-directors Anthony and Joseph Russo and Uatu the Watcher-esque producer Kevin Feige, have managed to tame the monstrous multi-headed beast of its "cinematic universe" into one coherent story. Well, half of a story. Infinity War is very much "part one."
This is commendable, but those unfamiliar with how the term crossover is used in a comic-book context may need a little prep before going into battle. The film plays like an "event book" reads, drawing in little moments from everyone, ramming through barriers of plot, coming up for air with some slug-fests and zippy lines, then dropping a "holy hell, that can't be!??!" ending just in time for you to wait for the follow-up. You know there's more to the story, but that's a side issue you can't afford. Furthermore, you know this will all work out, but for now you have to wait. More than most of what Marvel's done, this feels ripped from the pages of the funny books.
This has its pros and cons. There's a recurring gag in which Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) just can't seem to will himself into the Hulk. It will mirror how casual fans might have trouble revving up for this new, extremely lengthy entry in the saga.
Avengers: Infinity War feels rushed, but also, somehow, dull. I'm not just speaking in riddles to appeal to Benedict Cumberbatch's Dr. Strange, who's one of Marvel's cooler heroes, even if I can't quite figure out what his powers are -- there are so many story threads to check in on, and a boatload of characters to introduce (you've seen the poster), that much of the film feels academic. When we see new faces, there's a funny exchange, a block of text about the next hurdle (everyone is chasing stones in this; Avengers: Stone Chasers could have been the title), and then, to fit the legal definition of a major motion picture, some shoehorned "emotional stuff."
Some of the mish-mashing works. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) works. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) works. Vision (Paul Bettany) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) does not. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Rocket Raccoon (voice of Bradley Cooper) does not, even though it is funny that Thor keeps calling him "rabbit."