Earth's Mightiest Heroes will face their greatest threat yet in the form of the Mad Titan Thanos, in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War. We know it'll be the culmination of everything that's come before in the Marvel Universe, we know it will be a big event uniting all the heroes we've seen for 8+ years, all that good stuff. But we don't really talk about the development that the characters should go through.
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When it was announced in October, 2014, Infinity War was supposed to be a two-parter. That changed this 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. This got me thinking: How much screen time will the Mad Titan and the heroes have ? Obviously one of them will have to suffer from a time discount but, who will it be? Which one would be better?
We Have A Relationship With The Avengers, We Need To Continue It
The Marvel film universe's structure closely mimics the dynamic of comic books, in that, no matter how wide of a canvas you have to present your characters, because the storyline is broken up into different parts, the plot will always feel unfinished, not in a bad way though.
Yes, we have 14 movies worth of set up for the heroes in the universe but if we take a deeper dive into their structure, they're very small chapters exploring a small fraction of their main characters. For example, Doctor Strange touches on a very contained story for the mystical Doctor. It leaves an awesome amount of character development out, with the intention of exploring it further in future installments.
The same principle is applied to Iron Man. We've had three movies with the guy, not counting his starring roles in other films, yet we're still peeling metaphorical layers off of his armor; the same thing happens with Captain America, Thor, Hulk and Ant-Man.
We've spent a long time falling in love and getting invested with these characters. We've seen them at their highest and at their lowest, and Infinity War is a milestone for them. Most of the heroes's closest cosmic encounter has been with Thor, and this will be their biggest other-worldly challenge yet; of course they fought against the Chitauri but it was nothing compared to what Thanos will bring to the table.
So, not having enough time as an audience with these characters as they digest the situation, and their personalities - which have been set up for almost 10 years - react to the crazy purple guy with a rad gauntlet would be a disappointment. Yes, we'll no doubt get the usual snarky comment from Tony Stark or Peter Quill but that's not what we need to see in such an important event. We need to know how this powerful threat affects them in a psychological level.
A man with a shield, a gun-wielding spy, a man in a metal suit, a guy who can shrink, a father whose only tools that make him a semi-threat are his bow and arrows, how will they feel, knowing they'll have to face an all-powerful psychopath from space? It'd be great to get this development from them, really showing us the great heroes they are by taking on a threat a thousand times more powerful than them, someone who can literally erase them from existence in the blink of an eye.
Still, We Need Thanos To Be Fully Fleshed Out In The Movie
One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's main criticisms is their lack of compelling villains. Seeing how Thanos will be the big bad, the company is trying to avoid the trend by giving us snippets of him throughout different films to slowly flesh out his character and his diabolical plan.
So far, we've spent time with him in Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy. The thing is, we haven't seen his "Loki" moment. All we've seen him do is throw the usual bad guy threats of "I'll destroy the universe", or "I will bathe the star-ways in your blood"; that's the kind of thing my sister tells me when I feed her vegetables. We need Thanos to have traits that make him a compelling character, not a clichéd obstacle for the heroes to jump over.
What do we need to accomplish that, other than talented people in charge, who we already have? Time. Having being teased for six years by the time Infinity War comes out, we need to have a bad guy that validates that time.
Someone who makes all those years worth it, who makes us scared, yet fascinated by him when we're watching him do his thing. We didn't get that from Malekith, Ronan or Ultron, yet, their lack of character development can be excused because they're one-off villains in a superhero centric universe.
That excuse would be an insult to fans in the case of Thanos. He needs to be a character, not just a villain. He should be given layers, a distinctive personality that doesn't bring up the tired trope of "guy who wants to rule the universe #377". That character approach doesn't have much effect on us as viewers anymore.
For some, it might be a stretch but Thanos should be on the level of Heath Ledger's Joker. Regardless of whether he's killed or not at the end, whether he gets a small victory or not, he has to stay in our minds, so that a decade from now, we look back at him and think "What an amazing character."
You might be wondering what the answer to the question I set up at the beginning is and it's that both the heroes and Thanos deserve the same amount of screen time in the film. We are in a point in the MCU where that's necessary, giving protagonists and antagonists the same relevance.
The development of The Avengers as they face this unknown threat is just as important as Thanos as an antagonistic character. You could pose interesting questions with him; what if he's scared of gathering all these Infinity Stones for God-knows-what? That's unfortunately not something we can fully explore right now because we haven't had time with him, something we need, just as we need time with the heroes and their reactions.
I'm very optimistic about getting this nice balance, considering we have two incredibly talented writers in Christopher Marcus and Stephen McFeely and two incredibly talented directors in the Russo Brothers, who have proven twice their ability to flesh out the MCU. But what do you think?
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Who should get more screen time in Avengers: Infinity War? Do you think Thanos and the heroes deserve the same amount of time to shine? Let me know in the comments!