Avengers: Infinity War is a movie that needs no introduction. The culmination of over 20 films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise, it didn't just subvert superhero convention — here, the good guys lose, and they lose hard — it paved the way for a year of mystery and speculation that captivated fans around the world. It's actually astonishing to think how big Avengers: Infinity War was, only to be dwarfed by Avengers: Endgame.
But it's that losing that matters. Superheroes aren't supposed to lose. They're supposed to punch the bad guy and win. They don't let half the universe die.
But Avengers: Infinity War, for all its wrongs, did one thing incredibly right: It allowed the good guys to lose. Because without that L, the victory one year later wouldn't have meant anything. And that is why you need to watch Avengers: Infinity War before it leaves Netflix on June 24.
With all of Disney's content, especially the Marvel movies, migrating to Disney+, this is your last chance to easily stream Avengers: Infinity War before you need a Disney+ subscription.
If you're a reader of this website, chances are you've seen Avengers: Infinity War. A lot. You've scoured Reddit for fan theories and memorized every frame and one-liner. But in the off chance you haven't, here's the skinny: A crossover of virtually all the Marvel franchises (save for the TV shows), Joe and Anthony Russo's Avengers: Infinity War involves an alien super-being, Thanos (Josh Brolin), in his quest for the "Infinity Stones" — six powerful gems that grant whoever wields them incredible power. Thanos hopes to use the Infinity Stones to wipe out half the universe (you know, to save it), while Marvel's superheroes team up to stop him.
All of this is a very loose adaption of the 1991 comic miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin, who decades ago mapped out how 1) two dozen superheroes work together, 2) Thanos' desire for the Infinity Stones, then called Infinity Gems, and 3) how to tell a story this big without the whole thing buckling under its own weight.
That's not to say The Infinity Gauntlet is a graphic novel classic. Before these movies, Gauntlet was a mostly forgotten miniseries and remembered only by hardcore readers, or anyone who played Super Nintendo.
But Joss Whedon remembered. That's why The Avengers teased Thanos in 2012, because Whedon thought he was cool. There was no plan beyond that. But the success of The Avengers in 2012 encouraged Marvel to serialize its cinematic continuity to bring everything to a Mad Titan-shaped money-making conclusion. In the process, Marvel turned movies into comic books.
But if you thought Infinity War would end with the Avengers' fists held high, you were wrong. In an ending that may have traumatized an entire generation of moviegoers, beloved heroes were reduced to dust and ash. It wasn't a death, really, but it was an erasure that showed just how brittle and fragile we all are, even if we have superpowers. However Infinity War will be remembered, the vanishing of heroes left its impact on audiences not unlike Empire Strikes Back decades before.
To call Infinity War a "risk" is a little absurd considering the audience's over-familiarity with the Marvel brand and the oodles of marketing money behind it. But there is something bold and risky in these two and a half hours. The entire movie hinges on an audience accepting its protagonists will lose, only to come back an entire year later for any resolution. And What a resolution it was. (Check out our oral history of Avengers: Endgame featuring fans like you.)
Avengers: Infinity War is streaming on Netflix until June 24.