You’d be forgiven for thinking that the sole purpose of every movie ever made was to lead up to this point, such is the hype surrounding the latest Marvel movie, Avengers: Infinity War. Announced back in 2014, it is the 19th instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is the point when all of the superheroes band together to try and defeat the evil overlord Thanos.
Joining the Avengers (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye) are the gang from Guardians of the Galaxy: Black Panther and his Wakandan pals, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Ant Man and more. It makes for a mightily busy movie poster and also for a cast including some of the biggest names in Hollywood.
What does that mean for the plot? Probably that some of the heroes are going to be killed off. Is this huge crossover project the culmination of the Marvel universe? Not quite, as there are more films planned in the series that could introduce dozens of other superheroes and villains for years to come. But, is this going to be the biggest movie in the series so far? Absolutely, and quite possibly one of the biggest ever.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo have graduated quite spectacularly from producing and directing the likes of Community and Arrested Development and they’ve hinted that there will be some Easter eggs for fans of those shows in their latest film.
While we can’t bring you an interview with Michael Bluth or gob about their possible roles in Infinity War, what we can bring you are chats with some of the movie’s main stars. We’ll start with Chris Hemsworth, or as you might know him better, Thor.
“This really is Thor at his best,” he says. “This is the most heroic, most vengeful, passionate, driven, committed version of Thor that we’ve seen.
“I love the fact that we’ve been all given the opportunity to do something different each time and put our ideas forward. And to have an opportunity to attack a character again and hopefully advance on that and bring something unique to it each time is a real challenge. But if you can pull it off, it’s pretty creatively satisfying.”
We initially see Thor in the film after he’s picked up by The Guardians of the Galaxy, their paths crossing for the first time.
“The Guardians basically are flying through space and pick up Thor,” Hemsworth says. “There is this interesting confusion and then fascination and heightened tension between all of them because no one knows who the other one is or what they are doing. That was so much fun to play, because a lot of us came into this film as big a fans of each other’s franchises.
“To stand there amongst the Guardians was a bit of a fan-boy moment for me. It was also kind of nerve-wracking as I felt strangely uncomfortable and wondered how I fit into this puzzle. It was great.”
It was Iron Man that first kicked off this journey in 2008, and the role transformed the career of Robert Downey Jr., who has turned into something of a father figure on set.
“Robert has always led the way like a true leader and champion,” Hemsworth says. “There’s always been such great encouragement from him, such great constant feedback on what we’re doing. He’s always observing, always watching, doesn’t miss a beat. He’s always the first person to tell you that something works or that it was fantastic.
“As a young actor, when I first started this franchise, hearing that from Robert was like having the tick of approval and being let into the club. Even to right now, six, seven years on, he still has that same attitude.”
Downey Jr. himself always felt the Avengers series would become a success. “Not due to any particular intellectual capacity of my own,” he says, “but intuitively I looked at Batman being re-launched, and Spider-Man had just come in and swept up and become a sensation. So there was this sense that there was a resurgence.
“Stan Lee’s iteration of Tony Stark, which was rooted in my generation, that Vietnam kind of anti-establishment but also hearkening to the kind of Howard Hughes, eccentric billionaire thing – it was just so cool. If you listen to the theme songs for all these original comics it tells you everything you need to know. It’s like an episode of Mad Men.
He adds: “But I thought modernising it, and putting it at the time of another, let’s say hopefully in retrospect, necessary American conflict, that this theme is relevant again.
I also thought that the CGI elements, which hitherto would have been too challenging or would’ve looked a little lousy, had seen some major innovations. So, it really was just this perfect storm.”
Josh Brolin plays bad guy Thanos, who wants to wipe out half of the universe, because he’s fed up with over-population.
Downey Jr. explains: “Nobody in my generation has been raised without the crisis of over-population being swept under the rug because nobody knew what to do about it.
So along comes Thanos who, for his own reasons, decides the solution is just to cut it in half. It’s about pruning the bush in the most heartless way you could imagine. He has the insight and the ability to be strong enough to do what we would consider inhuman acts.”
Here’s what Brolin himself has to say about it: “The Infinity Stones are what he’s going for. He’s going for all power, under the auspices of trying to fix the universe. He’s trying to balance the cosmos. And by doing that he’s having to destroy a lot of things.
“It’s an interesting character,” he adds. “He is somebody who won’t stop until he has what he wants. You’re being reminded that he does have a heart, and you can be empathetic towards him. Then suddenly you realise that he’s the worst villain that’s ever existed because he’s willing to go to any lengths in order to accomplish his vision.
“There’s something else that’s feeding him and doing this, and what’s fun in the movie is trying to figure out what that is.”
In Spider-Man: Homecoming we saw British actor Tom Holland make the role of Peter Parker his own. Throughout the film, Parker is trying his best to get invited into the Avengers, only to turn down the invitation at the end. What’s happening now?
“What’s interesting about Peter Parker in this film is that he’s grown up quite a lot, but Tony Stark isn’t ready for him to have grown up that much,” Holland says. “So he questions Tony Stark quite a bit and is maybe a little cockier with him than he was in the previous movie.
Stark is very happy to put him back in his place, which is a lot of fun. And it’s just nice for me and Robert to get to do something different and new. It’s been interesting.
“At the end of Homecoming he’s invited to join the Avengers and doesn’t think he’s ready. He’d rather stay on the ground and look after the little guy. But in this film, that choice is taken away from him because he now has a responsibility as a superhero in this world to help and do something about it. And that’s how he sort of joins the Avengers by default.”
Infinity War is the third Marvel film Holland has appeared in, and each one has seen Parker grow. He says: “The thing that Marvel does so well is that they allow characters to develop over many years, not just in the first movie. So if the hairs on his arms are standing up, he’s sort of predicting the future and that’s the beginning of something new. That’s not something he’s always been able to do. I’m really excited to play with that because there are so many different things you can do.
“Maybe it’s not just danger that sets it off. Maybe it’s a pretty girl walking past, and his senses go crazy. So it’s going to be a lot of fun figuring out how we can make that unique.”
Mark Ruffalo is another star returning to the fold, reprising the role of Hulk that he first played in 2012’s The Avengers. He believes the movie is going to be a smash. “I think audiences will love the scope of it and the fact that all of their favourites are in it. Everyone has their favourite character, Marvel movie, and Marvel world. It’s a daring act, and it takes a lot of chutzpah to imagine this and to try and make it happen, so the culmination is going to be really exciting for people to see.”
● Avengers: Infinity War is out now in cinemas across Doha.