AVENGERS INFINITY WAR is a Blu-ray You’ll Want to Snap Up

Don’t feel so good? Check out Marvel’s latest and greatest on home video

Has the trauma sunk in yet? Yes, the snap felt around the world, a dark ending to this year’s biggest blockbuster, was recently rubbed in by Ant-Man and the Wasp’s stinger, not the mention the addition to its end credits. Just as you’d started to pull yourself together, get ready to be shook all over again as Thanos and company come to home video.

Thanos is here: a foe orchestrating much of the mayhem the players of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been forced to contend with over the past 10 years, whether they know it or not. The driving force behind the carnage he brings is a quest for the Infinity Stones, objects of great power that came into being when the universe was created. Now with the knowledge that the last of these stones’ whereabouts has been determined, he makes his move to seize them all and wield the power to bring balance to the universe. In his way are the divided Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, some of their companions, and even foes, who must assemble to foil the plans of Thanos and his minions.

Ten years. Eighteen movies. It all comes down to this. You can read my theatrical review for my full thoughts on Infinity War; but in short, it is a truly impressive achievement that succeeds in not only being the culmination of what came before, but in building on it, crafting space for each character, piecing them together in this story, one driven by a fantastically realized villain in Josh Brolin’s Thanos.

Directors Anthony and Joe Russo, along with screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, had the unenviable task of weaving together 76 characters spanning the MCU, and to their credit they realize their goal with aplomb. Despite its density there is a logic and a natural flow to the film. Parts are not forced into place; unions and reunions make sense. It’s sprawling but impressively focused and refined in terms of how it deals with arcs and characters. Experience with previous films puts you at ease with these characters now, and there’s something of a shorthand to how they’re written that allows everyone to get in a quip or action beat. You’re never lost or overwhelmed, but you know you’re in the midst of something epic, aided by thrilling action set-pieces. Character-wise, everyone has moments to shine. There are pairings you dreamed of and some surprising ones you never imagined. The film is a stream of delightful moments, quips, and alpha-males vying for space. It’s been generally held that (outside of Loki) Marvel had something of a villain problem. Recently they have certainly corrected that, with Ego, the Vulture, and Killmonger being fantastically realized foes, especially in relation to the protagonists they went up against. Now we get the daddy of them all in Thanos. Brolin does sterling work, giving him layers and a nuance greater than you might expect. The CGI brilliantly captures his range, while the writers afford time to expand his backstory, his relationships, and his beliefs.

After multiple re-watches, the achievement here is even more apparent. However, two aspects of the film required a little rumination. Originally I felt the ending, while potent, was undermined by the knowledge of these magical MacGuffins offering a reset switch. My colleague Brendan wrote a great piece breaking down this aspect of the film, one that sits better with me now. The second quibble was that Thanos’s plan made no sense, and still doesn’t. Bringing the universe back into balance by removing half its population from existence is temporary fix, something expanded upon by David Delgado after a conversation we had in a piece he wrote for Cinapse. It’s mildly irksome, more so when knowing the motivations behind his comic book counterpart, which, while more difficult to adapt to the MCU, could still work in some way to drive the character to such an act. Despite this lingering issue, the emotional punch is still there, and the followup can’t arrive soon enough.

The Package

As you’d expect, Avengers: Infinity War looks superb on Blu-ray. Sharp images, impressive detail, clear colors that pop with consistency throughout. A very high quality presentation.

Audio Commentary:

One of the more standout additions to recent Marvel releases have been the commentaries, notably by Taika Waititi (Thor Ragnarok) and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther), not only for their personality but also for their insights to their films and the franchise at large. As these films have built on each other, there’s even more to unpack, and in Infinity War, it’s the culmination of everything they’ve worked towards since Iron Man. Highlights of the Infinity War audio commentary include:

  • Revealing that Valkyrie indeed escaped Thanos’s attack in the opening; but they fail to reveal the fate of Korg, though. If he didn’t make it, we riot.
  • Early drafts included the destruction of Xandar, the home of the Nova Corps introduced in Guardians of the Galaxy. It was deemed repetitive to show Thanos claiming the Power stone in such a strike, and therefore cut.
  • How the structure went through several revisions, some including Cap not appearing until the final act, but things fitted into place once things were reframed around it being Thanos’s story.
  • Smart structure. Each Stone Thanos claims is followed by another scene demonstrating its specific power.
  • To give the heroes a chance, they had to build in some rules to show how Thanos could be beaten. Watch what he does immediately before he uses a stone.
  • The filmmakers’ love for, and hidden tributes to, Indiana Jones.
  • The surprising resonance of the scenes in Wakanda, which were being filmed before Black Panther had even been released.
  • The surprising reveal that Hulk was refusing to emerge from within Banner not because he was afraid after the Thanos smackdown, but because of more petulant reasons.
  • Hints at what Avengers 4 will bring, including a meatier role for Cap.

Other Special Features:

  • Strange Alchemy: Short piece on bringing together and balancing so many characters.
  • The Mad Titan: The history, relationships, and motivations of Thanos, along with a look at the effects work used to bring him to life in collaboration with Josh Brolin.
  • Beyond the Battle – Titan: One of the most impressive set-pieces in the film is the battle between Thanos and several of the Avengers/Guardians on Titan. This featurette focuses on the making of that sequence.
  • Beyond the Battle – Wakanda: The massive battle at the end of the film took place in Georgia, not Wakanda. A pretty cool look at how this was pulled off.
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes:
  • Happy Knows Best — Expansion of the early park scene. A nice comedic bit with Jon Favreau’s character, but understandably cut for time.
  • Hunt for the Mind Stone — Fleshes out the Black Order members’ hunt for the injured Vision in Scotland. Unfinished effects, but offers some more insight to the henchmen.
  • The Guardians Get Their Groove Back — Another playful scene excised for time, where Quill and Drax argue about how to find and rescue Gamora, missing a number of helpful ‘voicemails’ from Nebula in the process.
  • A Father’s Choice — Flashback time with another bonding/learning experience between Thanos and Gamora, this one involving an invasion and prelude to her search for the Soul stone. It only adds to one of the films more affecting moments and perhaps should have been left in.
  • Gag Reel: Short, relatively amusing.

Digital Exclusive:

  • A Directors’ Roundtable: A meeting of seven directors (and Taika Waititi, who hilariously Skypes in) who have tackled an MCU entry talk about their efforts and how they fit into the wider MCU.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. If a customer buys a physical copy of a film, they should get a physical copy of the extras, not be forced into a digital ecosystem to access it. Enough.

The Bottom Line

Revisiting Avengers Infinity War underscores how impressive a feat it is. It achieves a symphonic blending of the various franchises, without losing the distinct voice of each. Epic in scale, it has engaging and propulsive storytelling. Most readers will already know that they’re going to pick up this Blu-ray, so be assured that Marvel has put together a very nice package for you to delve into.

Avengers Infinity War is available on Blu-ray and 4K UHD from August 14th, 2018, and is available now on VOD.

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