Never lacking in ambition (at least when it comes to the expanding frontiers of branding and marketing), Marvel boldly announced back in 2015 that the third film in the Avengers series would be unlike those that came before it. At the time of the project’s initial reveal, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige clarified his plans to split Avengers: Infinity War into two parts that would be released independent of one another. This was cause for great excitement, as moviegoers love nothing more than to shell out for two separate tickets just for the privilege of waiting up to a year to see the conclusion of a self-contained story. Incredibly, however, Feige backpedaled on that can’t-fail proposition shortly thereafter, amending their plans to separate Avengers 3 1 and Avengers 3 2 into the simpler Avengers 3 and Avengers 4.
In other words, this movie is crowded. Maybe overcrowded. Marvel and Sony’s new Spider-Man (Tom Holland) steals the show with his wisecracks and web-swinging, but serves almost no narrative purpose. Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) is only slightly more important to the story; his main function is to introduce the character to a broader audience before he gets spun off into his own standalone movie in 2018. The subplot involving the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) ties up some loose ends from the last Captain America movie, but it’s not really crucial to the film’s central conflict between Cap (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) over governmental control of the Avengers. (The Winter Soldier barely appears in the original Civil War comics.)