MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Avengers: Infinity War is now out all over the world, setting historical records at the box-office, and dominating the conversation with its numerous twists and turns. Here, we break down the film’s biggest moments and reveals.

The Avengers and Guardians Meet

With all the different kinds of heroes that collide in the film, Avengers: Infinity War runs the risk of being a cacophonous, self-indulgent quipfest. But the filmmakers deftly avoid this issue by perfectly balancing each team’s ethos and humor, concocting an inter-team dynamic that simply works. The first meeting of Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy kicks off with what might be the funniest back and forth involving Drax (WHY IS GAMORA?!). Purists may hate how much of a buffoon Drax was in the past two films but the film plays well into Dave Bautista‘s penchant for comedic timing.

The film might as well be the litmus test for Thor to be included in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 at this point. Who would’ve thought that the Shakespearean Odinson from the first Thor film would make a perfect Guardian of the Galaxy? Thor’s interaction with Groot and Rocket not only resulted in some chuckles but it gave way to fantastic character development, particularly for Groot and Rocket. Groot spends a chunk of the film slouching apathetically, not giving a damn at the gravity of the situation. It’s until he sees a dying Thor that he decides to step up and literally gives a part of himself for a character he just met. Same with Rocket. Thor is one of the few characters Rocket shows empathy to and a lot of that has to do with how pertinent these pairings are. The Russos and Markus and McFeely find gold in the most unlikely of pairings.

Gamora’s Life for the Soul Stone

The location of the Soul Stone has long been a hot topic for fans. You can trace it all the way back from 2013 when people started thinking Heimdall was the physical embodiment of the stone thanks to his ability to see people or “souls” throughout the cosmos and on account of his orange Soul Stone colored eyes. The theory then shifted to Wakanda, Black Panther’s fabled kingdom and home to the most powerful and mysterious metal on Earth, Vibranium. Avengers: Infinity War takes a dump on all these fan theories with the simple reveal that the Soul Stone is literally on another planet. That also came with the revelation that Gamora was originally tasked by Thanos to look for it in the first place. It gets crazier when Thanos finds out that there’s a painful price for the Soul Stone: the life of a loved one.

The deaths of Vision, Loki, and Heimdall were expected by most people but Gamora’s fall into the abyss was a death no one saw coming at all. It’s harrowing to watch a character you’ve fallen in love with slowly facing her death as her father drags her, lamenting the inevitable.

There’s a prevailing theory right now saying that the one sacrificed for the stone ends up becoming the actual stone. So it’s possible that Gamora’s in that Soul Stone. It’s a theory that makes sense so I wouldn’t be surprised if that plays into Avengers 4. I’ve read a few comments saying that the scene following the notorious finger snap where he sees a child Gamora in the distance may be set inside the Soul Stone.

Red Skull In Space

Ever since Johann Schmidt held the cosmic cube for dear life 6 years ago in Captain America: The First Avengers as he was lifted up to the heavens, fans have hoped for an appearance from him in any shape or form. Be it in the Avengers, where he was rumored to appear as the herald of Thanos but was replaced by The Other or an Avengers 4 appearance where all the ghosts of villains past come back to life. This wish was fulfilled in Avengers: Infinity War when the Red Skull appears as the guardian of the Soul Stone in the planet Vormir.

More than the character deaths, it’s probably my favorite surprise in the film. I just love how they brought back Schmidt in a totally organic way, even though it isn’t Hugo playing him. The nods to his past life as a seeker of the Infinity Stones was a great touch. I have to see the film another time so correct me if I’m wrong but I think Red Skull mentions the Infinity Stones appointing him as Vormir’s guardian, heavily insinuating that the Stones have sentience.

The Snap

Even though the iconic snap was teased heavily throughout the Avengers: Infinity War promotional campaign, I myself didn’t actually think it would happen. Much like the “Avengers, assemble” quote that we still haven’t heard in a decade, I figured the snap was just something that was fun to allude to. So when Thanos does snap his fingers in the film’s conclusion, I was in awe. It doesn’t play out faithfully to the comics. There’s no grand three-panel build up to it. It happens unceremoniously at the end of a camera pan after Thor hurls his ax at Thanos.

The lack of fanfare for one of the most iconic moments in comic book history is what truly sells the weight of the moment. The world doesn’t explode following the snap. There’s universe doesn’t spectacularly meltdown as dreadful music blares in the background. No, what follows is harrowing silence as a confounded Bucky slowly turns into dust. The silence of all the theaters I’ve watched Infinity War proves how effective the moment is. Soon after Bucky, a slew of characters we’ve come to love the past 10 years vanish into thin air. How these heroes react to what’s happening to them is painful. None of them have any understanding of what’s going on. Peter begging Tony to save him is absolutely heartbreaking. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are left helpless and shaken by a mere snap. When you see Captain America get rattled to the core, convinced that all hope is gone as he sits next to Vision’s corpse, it’s when you know the heroes are truly defeated.

Thanos Rules

You can hate Avengers: Infinity War all you want for its convolution, uneven structure, muddled tone, and cliffhanger ending but you can’t deny the thing it proves: Thanos rules as an MCU big bad. The Russos and screenwriters Markus and McFeely did the bold job of tossing Thanos’ comic book motivations out the door. Instead of being a madman pining for the affection of an abstract being, they rewrote Thanos into an understanding stoic conqueror who wants to rid the world of over-population, a concept we are all too familiar with in our daily lives. As part of his motivational complexities, Thanos manages to show respect to his foes and treats them with dignity. Josh Brolin‘s Thanos exudes gravitas, carefully toeing the line between composed and wrathful. When Thanos faces off with individual Avengers, laying them to waste with poise and grandeur, you can’t help but feel awe and shock at how incredible this character is. The future of the MCU and the fate of our favorite heroes seem uncertain at this point but one thing’s for sure: Thanos absolutely rules.

Everyone Dies

Counting every protagonist who dies before the snap and post-snap, the kill count in this film is staggering. We count 16 dead heroes. Some people are scoffing at the god-mode stakes here primarily for the Infinity Gauntlet but it doesn’t make this kill count any less impressive. I can’t think of a blockbuster going straight for the demise of multiple marquee characters of this level. Avengers: Infinity War is the season finale and the deaths of its 16 heroes are the most powerful bookend to any superhero film yet.