Avengers: Infinity War probably shouldn’t be the Marvel DVD you reach for first when you feel the need for a casual rewatch. It’s long, it demands your full attention, and more than that, it’s heavy — yet, somehow, magically, it’s just as rewatchable as Marvel’s best movie or its most entertaining. For how deep Infinity War goes and how far it takes its audience past its comfort zone, Marvel’s nineteenth feature is an achievement in truly great filmmaking, perhaps because it is the culmination of the ultimate grand experiment in creating and executing an interconnected movie universe and not in spite of it.
Three months after the release of Infinity War, just when it seemed like it was old news, Ant-Man and the Wasp proved that Thanos’s snap will never stop hurting. It hurts just as much on a rewatch when you know it’s coming as it did in April when you thought the Avengers still might win. And it just keeps hurting in the “Beyond the Battle” featurettes on the DVD / Blu-ray, when directors Anthony and Joe Russo and writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely explain why they picked who would disappear and who would stay over footage of Tony cradling ashes and Okoye on the verge of breaking. It’s actually pretty rude.
I can’t really complain, though, because their criteria for the snap was story- and character-focused, as was every other decision made in the construction of this monster-sized movie. Throughout the four featurettes, both the Russos and various figures from Marvel Studios like Kevin Feige and executive producer Trinh Tran emphasize character in all aspects of this film’s execution, whether in building a horrifying but understandable villain in Thanos or in styling action sequences to reflect character moments rather than fight choreography.
And that’s the secret of why Infinity War works. It’s not so much about the fight against Thanos as it is how characters we’ve grown to love and admire over the past ten years choose to fight a battle they know that they are almost certainly going to lose. The bonus features on Infinity War — though a bit light and hype man-esque compared to previous Marvel releases — bring this character-oriented approach into clear focus, particularly in the illuminating audio commentary with both the writers and the directors. Even the few deleted scenes are all about character, clearly cut for time or, in the case of an extended scene between Thanos and Gamora, for simpler execution elsewhere.
For all the humor and the thrill of seemingly incompatible heroes meeting for the first time, Infinity War is a tough movie to rewatch on an emotional level, and, like any epic film, it plays better in the theater than it does at home. Still, if you can put yourself through the ringer, it’s worth it. Because Infinity War is really nothing short of the pinnacle of Marvel’s storytelling abilities. A story this big with so many characters to juggle — it shouldn’t have worked, right? And yet it did. And there’s still more of this story to tell.
Avengers: Infinity War is now available on digital platforms and on Blu-ray and DVD.