10 years ago, Nick Fury approached Tony Stark/Iron Man and revealed that he was just part of a bigger world that he didn’t know and understood yet. Neither did us as the whole notion of a joined cinematic universe was unheard of at that time, but Marvel Studios blew the doors wide open and ever since then, the Marvel Cinematic Universe captured audiences imaginations worldwide. What they achieved for the past decade dwarfed any other film franchise that has come before and since, crushing even the beloved likes of Star Wars, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings just in shear size and scope. What makes these films so special and resonating to audiences were the larger-than-life characters that inhabited this universe, the chemistry between said characters, the humour, the passion, the creativity, and so on. Despite having a couple of turkeys along the way (Iron Man 2 and especially Thor: The Dark World), that unique quality is still consistent and everyone should be so thankful and lucky to be alive at this moment in time when all of these great films are occupying our cinemas.

Now, all of that hard work and dedicated passion has all been leading to this point with Avengers: Infinity War, the first of a massive two-parter with the second instalment being released next year. This is quite arguably Marvel’s most ambitious project to date: gathering every single hero from the past 10 and bringing them together to stop the ultimate big bad of the Marvel Universe in the Mad Titan himself, Thanos. This does certainly sound like a risky gamble, but the results are absolutely astonishing as this quite truly one of the most successful and intense film culminations that has ever been brought to the big screen.

Running at nearly two-and-a-half hours, this film certainly delivers on its promise and build-up, and every one of these characters that we’ve followed and connected with for the past decade are here and not one of them feels like a stock character that’s been added for no reason. Every character has their moment to shine, and thanks to having previous movies worth of character development, you do feel the joy, weight and tragedy these heroes endure over the course of this apocalyptic epic. We see Thor coming to grips with what he’s endured during Thor: Ragnarok, both Iron Man and Captain America broken apart following the events of Civil War, and so and so forth. A lot of the interactions between certain Avengers members and Guardians of the Galaxy characters feel genuine, has real depth and context, all of the actors playing these characters deliver 100 percent, and seeing them all united together after all this time feels like a true fanboy’s dream come to life on the big screen.

However, the real draw for this movie and is the one aspect this movie really needed to deliver on and it did big time was its main villain in Thanos, who is without a doubt, not just the best villain in the MCU, but also one of the best comic book villains on screen to date. Ever since the mid-credits sequence at the end of the first Avengers movie, Thanos and the universal threat he imposed was impressively seeded throughout since through cameo appearances or through the Infinity Stones that he seeks to claim, so it made logical sense that he was always going to be the main driving force of this two-part epic, and if he didn’t work in any way or came out flat, then the whole thing wouldn’t work. Yet they have truly succeeded in bringing the big purple Mad Titan to life as every single scene he’s in carries real gravitas (you can almost feel the room shake when he’s in a scene!), you absolutely get the sense of how truly powerful and almost omnipotent he is, and yet we understand his motivation for wiping out half of the universe and his uncompromising self-righteous belief in doing so makes him a formidable adversary. Josh Brolin truly excels in bringing real life and depth to the huge behemoth, and the mo-cap CGI used to bring him to life is truly extraordinary to the point where you actually do believe he’s a genuine living creature interacting with our heroes. As we delve deep into Thanos backstory, both Zoe Saldana’s Gamora and Karen Gillan’s Nebula play a much bigger role in this film than one might’ve expected as we see the tales of horrific abuse come to light, and seeing their origins realised in an Avengers movie makes things all the more surprising and refreshing.

This a movie where there is so much going on that for some viewers, that could be too much, but there is absolutely no denying the anticipation and excitement audiences will take away following the earth-shattering experience this movie will grant them. There is a lot of audiences can take away from this film, and that is frankly a good thing; characters that we have come to know, experience and love over the past 10 years have finally come together, and the results are unexpected, grim, traumatising, hilarious, and filled with amazing sequences of exultations and emotion (there was one particularly tough moment that had this reviewer tearing up). Avengers: Infinity War is a true gift from filmmakers who actually care about their characters and their audience, and following the groundbreaking success of both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Civil War, the Russo Brothers need to be especially thanked for handling this huge Marvel behemoth with an ease that flows so smoothly that it has me and audiences excited for the epic conclusion that is to come next year.