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In the forty-year history of mainstream superhero cinema, no film has shouldered a heavier burden of expectation than Avengers: Infinity War. Marvel Studios’ 19th film is charged with wrangling more characters and storylines than any of its predecessors as it attempts to culminate the first decade of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Conventional wisdom suggests the movie cannot work and yet Avengers: Infinity War does on every conceivable level to become an unprecedented achievement in filmmaking.

The word “epic” is used a lot in association with blockbusters, especially those with superheroes. We have rendered the word almost meaningless, just as we have with comparisons to Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back when we discuss sequels. Avengers: Infinity War, however, is the rare film that reminds us just how high the bar really is for such words and comparisons, and then clears it.

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