Avengers: Infinity War Trailer: The Whole Gang’s Here

If you’re merely a casual fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the arrival of the first trailer for Avengers: Infinity War might not seem like a huge deal: After all, pretty much every Marvel movie now feels like an Avengers movie, with the team’s various heroes playing crucial supporting roles in such recent hits as Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnarok. What began as a winking, post-credits tease in 2008’s Iron Man—“I’m here to talk to you about the Avenger initiative”—has become the series’ hours-long, deeply threaded mega-narrative, full of Infinity Stones and intra-squad squabbling, and populated by dozens of characters. At this point, even the Watcher needs Wikipedia to keep up.

But Infinity War is the MCU’s biggest gambit yet (and, strictly speaking, its only one), the first part of a reckoning/realignment that will eventually lead to Marvel’s much-discussed “Phase 4,” emphasizing a different squad of heroes and villains. With some of the series’ biggest stars nearing the end of their contracts, including Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, Infinity War will likely be one of the last chances you’ll get to see some of the original MCU stars in action before retirement—assuming they don't kill each other first.

For those who can’t remember where things went wrong, a quick re-Cap of the pre-Infinity imbroglios: After defeating Ultron, and enduring a mounting anti-superhero political backlash, the Avengers became divided along ideological lines, with one side teaming with Iron Man’s pro-cooperation stance, the other siding with Captain America’s keep-it-indie worldview. Along the way, Thanos has continued his quest to collect all six Infinity Stones, Marvel’s precious dazzlers (but not its only ones!) that will give him control of the universe.

That tension, not surprisingly, comes to a head in the Infinity War trailer. “ In time, you will know what it’s like to lose,” says Josh Brolin's Thanos. The two-and-a-half-minute tease features no shortage of skirmishes, along with lots of dour looks from handsome superpeople. Stick around to the end for a glimpse of the Guardians of the Galaxy—who are coming together with the Avengers for the first time—meeting a rightly confused Thor. Also spotted: Loki, Spider-Man in his fancy new duds, Black Panther, a blonde Black Widow, a bearded Captain America, and a whole lot of Wakanda. It’s like an Ed Hannigan poster brought to life, with an extra dash of Hulkbuster.

Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo (who also handled crossover-lites Civil War and Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Infinity War will be quickly followed in 2019 by Avengers 4—a move that indicates that Marvel’s execs have some serious stones of their own.

Though the MCU has so far succeeded in avoiding the kind of franchise exhaustion that’s plagued such series as Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean, the audacious Avengers two-parter feels like a particularly risky move: If 2017 has told us anything about the metabolism of modern movie-going audiences, it’s that even once-sturdy franchises can quickly become too much of a good thing. Will Avengers fans assemble for the next installment with the same fervor as they have in the past? Can Marvel resolve the endless galaxy-spanning storylines they’ve set up without getting lost in space? And when will Howard the Duck finally see some cigar-chomping action?

We’ll find out when Avengers: Infinity War opens in May.

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