Is it any less painful to watch a villain – made fallible due to his warped petard of principles – make an Abrahamic sacrifice? The Marvel heroes (the Guardians crew, Iron Man, Hulk, the Cap, Spiderman, Thor, Black Panther, Dr. Strange and more) unite against Thanos to bring an end to his stone-collecting ambitions, through which we see his trading of a soul for a soul. There are similar exchanges made or offered in this movie by the heroes.
Thanos’s population culls will be ameliorated by the acquisition of the infinity stones to empower him to commit his sustainability-inspired genocides at a fingersnap rather than by the bullet. With more than one stone still to acquire, it allows for a lot of spinning plates in this movie, kept up through humour and character-driven action. (At least) four narrative strands – involving Thor, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man and Spiderman, and the earth-centred Captain America, Vision, Black Panther et al, are woven around the battle against Thanos.
The beauty of previous movies in this universe is that many are almost standalone. However, a passing familiarity with what’s gone before in the MCU is a likely necessity here. It’s also a definitive cliffhanger, so expect a sequel to tie all the loose ends up.
The characters exchange quips and barbs with aplomb. RDJr brings the existential weariness to Tony Stark that we’ve seen since perhaps Iron Man 3. Thor is as thoughtful as ever in his use of language, labelling his allies morons and more. The Guardians crew are on form as always.