Marvel had a lot to live up to when they made Avengers: Infinity War.

For one thing, this was the 19th movie in the MCU and the company was getting stronger as the franchise wore on, when many franchises start to lose fans after even two or three movies. What was dangerous here is that — as anyone who reads comics knows — Marvel was about to destroy their entire universe with the snap of a finger.

By the end of the movie, people who never read comics were in shock, those who knew what was about to happen were still shaken by the magnitude of the finale, and Marvel found itself in an interesting spot where they have a full year before they finish the story.

Some fans called this the Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, it might be better compared to the Harry Potter franchise and called the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 of the MCU.

That isn’t a compliment.

As I mentioned when breaking down the rankings of the best Harry Potter movies, where Deathly Hallows Part 1 ranked fifth for me:

“On its own, this is a film that sets things up, puts everyone in danger, has their relationships start to fracture, and then tells viewers that they will be back in the next movie to deal with all these problems.”

Now, Avengers: Infinity War does this in a way that is a lot more exciting for fans of the MCU. It is a better movie — on its own — that the first Deathly Hallows film. However, the end of the movie does something almost unforgivable. It sets up a cliffhanger, shows the heroes at their worst, but never takes the time to show them preparing for more.

When Empire Strikes Back ended, it had a scene here Lando and Chewy were heading out to find Han Solo and it also showed that Luke got his mechanical hand. Avengers: Infinity War shows the heroes are beaten and broken and Thanos sits down content .. cut to credits.

That is a bad ending … even for a cliffhanger.

However, that does not make it a bad movie overall.

Avengers: Infinity War starts right after the post-credit scene from Thor: Ragnarok. It is there that we realize this is not going to be a happy movie. In Thor: Ragnarok, he saves the people of Asgard, gets them off the planet, and is headed towards Earth. When Avengers: Infinity War begins, they are almost all dead.

If that isn’t a kick in the balls, I don’t know what is. We then get Hulk beat down, two major character deaths, and then the movie heads to Earth.

Bruce Banner gets Doctor Strange and Iron Man together for the first time to discuss Thanos and then the attack on Earth immediately starts. There are some cool moments where Spider-Man shows up (Iron Spider — FTW!!!!!) and battles happen.

We see The Guardians of the Galaxy meeting Thor and then they split up to take on two different tasks, including Thor needing to get another hammer made for no apparent reason other than splitting them up and giving Thor and Rocket Raccoon (“Rabbit”) a nice buddy-road trip routine.

We see Vision and the Scarlet Witch having a secret rendezvous before they are attacked and Steve Roger shows up with his soldiers (Secret Avengers — FTW!!!!!). This leads to Steve and company showing up to get help from Black Panther and then the giant battle happens.

Look, there is a lot of geek service given in Avengers: Infinity War (did I mention how cool Iron Spider and Secret Avengers are?). There are some amazing battles (although the battle in Wakanda was a little too frantic to be anything more than brainless devastation.

There was even a huge special return of a character long thought dead and a touching sacrifice to show that Thanos is not a complete monster. The action was good, the spectacle was massive and there were some touching moments (“I don’t wanna go…”).

However, at the end of the day, Avengers: Infinity War is a movie that was all set-up with no payoff. That was the point, obviously, of the film but as Empire Strikes Back showed, that could happen with a small payoff to at least send theatergoers home a little happy.

Avengers: Infinity War is no Empire Strikes Back. With that said, I have no doubt Avengers 4 will be miles better than Return of the Jedi, so we have that to look forward to.

I recommend this movie but caution you not to expect a great ending. I am rather waiting for the fourth movie to come out to watch them back-to-back to get an actual complete story.