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‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is a superhero tour de force

      Brace yourself, world. The movie event of the year is here. Stock up on ticket money, because “Avengers: Infinity War” is a Marvel epic so huge it demands to be watched several times to grasp its full magnitude. And the best part? This is only round one, Marvelites.

     Ever hear the saying “Every villain is the hero of their own story?” Look no further for proof than Thanos, leader of the Black Order and wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet. Brought to life by the unfailingly superb Josh Brolin, the Mad Titan’s on a mission to gather all six Infinity Stones. With them, he aims to snuff out half the living beings in the universe. In his unhinged (but super-genius) brain, this is how to solve the sustainability crisis that’s plaguing populations in every corner of outer space.

     Props to Brolin and the character design monkeys at Marvel, because they make you feel something that almost amounts to sympathy for the purple-skinned conqueror. His plight is heart-wrenchingly human; if he wasn’t so quick to jump to Defcon 1, maybe he and some other intelligent lifeforms could’ve worked shit out.

     But that doesn’t happen, so the Avengers will have to reassemble to give him and his Black Order a Hulk-sized ass-kicking. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (and a few space-truckin’ Guardians) are scattered like loose Lego bricks across the cosmos, but nothing like the threat of intergalactic genocide to bring these dysfunctional do-gooders together.

     This Avengers house party includes more than twenty of the MCU’s top dogs. Some are old guard, like Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Captain America (Chris Evans, with a beard so awesome it could count as an extra Avenger). Others are new blood, namely Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Some of them survive. Others don’t.

     We know (and you can bet your ass the characters know) this is essentially the endgame for this chapter of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All bets are off, and that sense of impending doom gives the fight scenes newfound tension and unsettling urgency. It’s riveting, down to the deepest depths of your inner nerd core.

     There’s no campy exposition or beating around the bush when it comes to the biggest, baddest superhero movie in history. Right from the start, “Infinity War” dials the action to 11 and doesn’t let off until the lights come on. Nowhere is safe from the vengeance of the Black Order, comprised of heavy hitter Cull Obsidian, brutal tactician Proxima Midnight, lethal assassin Corvus Glaive and the fanatical Ebony Maw (the SpongeBob insult Tony Stark throws at him is worth the price of admission alone).

     Think you’re in for a blatant, action-only cash grab? Think again, because the MCU has made Hollywood do double takes with its characters-first, spectacle-second approach to cinema. Marvel vets Anthony and Joe Russo drop one shocking revelation after another until you can’t tell which way is up. But the emotional toll of watching these heroes resign themselves to fighting an unwinnable war (especially youngsters like Shuri and Spidey) is what will floor you like a full-power repulsor blast.

     You’ll leave “Infinity War” battered, bruised and with shredded nerves thanks to a thunderous twist ending that’s too insane to spoil. Once the shock dissipates, there should be no doubt: this is a Marvel-ous mashup of the past, present and future of everything the MCU has to offer. It’ll knock your Spandex clean off.

“Infinity War” is smashing all kinds of box-office records, beating  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” for the biggest opening weekend in US history.


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