NOTE: This list contains no explicit spoilers about the plot of the film.
After 18 movies, destiny has finally arrived in the form of Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos and his gauntlet reached Earth's vicinity, and the 70+ MCU characters are bracing themselves for his appearance. While the franchise has reached zeitgeist status around the world, that doesn't mean it's perfect. On the contrary, there are more than a few things people hate about the MCU movies.
From the convoluted meta narrative, to the slew of obvious plot holes, the MCU films aren't exactly known for depicting a tight, well thought out story. Even though creators have been teasing the film for years, not all of the franchise's issues have been addressed, and there are plenty of criticisms worth levying at Infinity War. The worst reviews call the film out its reliance on CGI, its side-lining of female heroes, and the fact that after years of horrific foreboding, Thanos is kind of a likable character.
The buzz leading up to Infinity War largely ignored speculation about what the story might be about, and the San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle argues that even while watching the film, the plot seems unimportant. "Nobody’s interested in the narrative. It’s a story about an all-powerful thug collecting a half-dozen magic stones — a 160-minute game of rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, rock, scissors, paper."
The A.V Club's A.A Dowd boils the "busy" yet simplistic story down to, "a worlds-spanning game of keep-away." Writing for Roger Ebert's website, Matt Zoller Seitz wonders if stretching the plot across two films worked against Infinity War:
If only the film were better modulated, or perhaps longer, or more elegantly shaped, or... well, it's hard to say exactly what's wrong here. But something's not up to snuff. This is, as many have pointed out, one half of a story broken in two, but it feels like less than half somehow.
A hell of a lot was riding on Thanos's ability to deliver the goods. Considering Thanos's previous appearances amount to brief cameos and stray lines of dialogue, Josh Brolin really had his work cut out for him. Unfortunately, the A.V Club's A.A Dowd doesn't think the Mad Titan stacks up to previous MCU villains. "In everything from appearance to backstory, he’s still a rather silly character, especially compared to the truly tragic, company-best villain Michael B. Jordan played earlier this year."
Writing for the Washington Free Beacon, Sonny Bunch suggests the film makes us root for the spotlight-stealing Thanos too much, which isn't a good thing:
My main frustration with the film: everything about Thanos is good! The character design is solid (he's basically a purple hulk, but smart and well spoken) and Josh Brolin does surprisingly tender work under all that CGI... His plan and his reasoning for it are both ludicrous — he's basically an intergalactic Paul Ehrlich, and Paul Ehrlich is a charlatan who should've been laughed out of polite society eons ago — but there is, at least, some reasoning behind it, a core to his madness.
While likable characters are typically a sign of a quality film, when a franchise has spent the better part of a decade building up a villain as horrifically evil, it's a little odd to portray them in a way that wins over fans.
The first two Avengers films — as well as the team-based Guardians of the Galaxy movies — were praised for striking a balance between scenes of relatable human drama and spectacular blockbuster action. Unfortunately, some critics don't think Infinity War manages to repeat this success.
"There are stray traces of human-sized drama and comedy sprinkled across the splash-panel canvas... each [character] granted somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-dozen lines," A.A Dowd writes for the A.V Club.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Mick LaSalle echoes this complaint. "What people like most about the series — the colorful personalities — gets short shrift."
The comedic and dramatic highs of Spider-Man: Homecoming, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther put a lot of pressure on the third Avengers movie, and some critics feel it falls short of its predecessors. Roger Ebert critic Matt Zoller Seitz writes:
Rather than match their support team's inventiveness, the directors avoid risk. They capture both the violent (sometimes cruel) action and the emotionally intense private moments in either a boringly flat or frantically hacky manner (snap-zooms on falling figures; herky-jerky camerawork and fast cutting during fight scenes; the same stuff you see in most action films made during the past decade).
This would all be a lot less grating if the MCU hadn't produced two back-to-back hits, Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther, which had vivid directorial personalities and took as many stylistic/tonal risks as Marvel's brand would allow.
Slate's Sam Adams adds:
If you’re still high on Black Panther and desperate for another hit of your Wakandan faves, you’re in luck, but the price of the movie’s one-from-every-column approach is that it can feel like you’re watching an inartful supercut cobbled together from several movies.