When it was announced in October, 2014, #AvengersInfinityWar was supposed to be a two-parter. That changed last year with the Russo Brothers confirming the adventure to be now only one film, leaving Thanos' and the Infinity Stones' massive storyline with a seemingly reduced plot. The shift left fans wondering how much screen time will the Mad Titan and the heroes have? Obviously one of them would have to suffer from a time discount, but who would it be?
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Well, fans, debate no more; #KevinFeige just answered that question. During a set visit for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the legendary producer was asked about Marvel's villain problem; in his answer, he dropped the bombshell we're here for:
“A big criticism of ours is that we focus on the heroes more than the villains, I think that’s probably true. I don’t think it will always be true. [...] Thanos in 'Infinity War'... is in a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say he is the main character, and that’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called 'Infinity War'.”
Choosing to give Thanos the role of protagonist is definitely an interesting direction, but it opens up a debate: If he's given more time in the spotlight, what happens to The Avengers? Is it right to make Thanos the protagonist of the story? Let's take a look...
The Avengers Need A Closing Chapter
The #Marvel film universe's structure closely mimics that of comic books, in that, no matter how wide of a canvas you have to present your characters, the storyline is broken up into different parts, so the plot will always feel episodic. We have 14 movies worth of set up for heroes, but if we take a deeper dive into their structure, they're small chapters exploring a small fraction of their main characters; characters with chapters of their own who are slowly unraveled and closed through the course of more movies.
So, Infinity War should be a closing chapter for these characters we've slowly gotten to know for the better part of a decade, just like Avengers was a turning point for everyone. The end of the movie gave us changed heroes. They had grown. They were entering a new chapter in their lives after facing an enemy and a situation they never expected.
Not having enough time as an audience with them when they have to digest a crazy purple guy with a rad gauntlet would be a disappointment. We need to know how this threat affects them in a psychological level. At the end of the day, they're people who know they'll face an all-powerful psychopath from space. So it'd be great to get this final bits of development from them.
On The Other Hand, We Also Need Thanos To Be Fully Fleshed Out In The Movie
As stated above, one of the #MCU's main criticisms is its lack of compelling villains. We can't deny the heroes are the biggest focus in each Marvel film. Kevin Feige said this during the set visit:
“In a lot of cases, Ronan’s great [...] but certainly was there to go up against our heroes and to give our heroes a reason for coming together...
... [...] in 2008, there are two superhero movies that came out. One focused on the villain, one focused on the hero, and we at Marvel looked at them, like yeah, we focus on the heroes. We don’t mind that. We like that."
Marvel's trying to avoid this trend with Thanos by giving us snippets of him throughout different films to slowly flesh out his character. The thing is, we haven't seen his "Loki" moment. All we've seen him do is throw the usual "I'll destroy the universe" threats. He should possess distinctive traits that make him a compelling individual, not a clichéd obstacle for the heroes to jump over.
What do we need to accomplish that? Time. Having being teased for six years by the time #InfinityWar comes out, we need to have a bad guy that validates the time spent building him up. Someone who scares and fascinates us when doing his thing. Thanos needs to be a layered character with a distinctive personality and time to develop it to stops him from being "guy who wants to rule the universe #377". He has to stay in our minds so that a decade from now, we look back at him and think "What an amazing character." So, yes, it is a great move to give large focus to Thanos.
But if both sides getting their chance to shine in the film is great, what can be done, you ask? Find a balance. We are in a point in the MCU where giving protagonists and antagonists the same level of relevance is necessary. The development of The Avengers as they face this unknown threat is just as important as Thanos as an antagonistic character. And thankfully, Marvel and Feige are interested in going in that direction, as he revealed his new more connected approach to #GuardiansoftheGalaxyVol2:
“It wasn’t like “oh, here’s our characters on journey with each other while they’re fighting this big bad that’s doing whatever he or she is doing, and just that’s it. [...] It is, kind of, two separate stories: There’s Ronan taking over this planet and murdering the universe, and then there’s these guys who through that journey get to know each other and come together. In this movie all of those things are a little bit more interwoven. It really is all one story. And that is, to me, a lot more satisfying way to tell a story.”
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That comment makes me very optimistic about getting a nice balance in Infinity War, even more so considering we have an incredibly talented creative team in Kevin Feige, Christopher Marcus, Stephen McFeely and the Russo Brothers.
Are you happy with Thanos being a protagonist in 'Infinity War'?