"Thanos is the protagonist - How Infinity War works" and "Thanos deserved to win", two video essays.

Astral/H3X

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Oct 25, 2017
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Is he literally the best blockbuster villain of all time because of his Malthusian beliefs?.
No, he's "the best villain of all time" because the film is structured in a way that places him in the usual slot of the protagonist, that is to say, the film is set up to provide Thanos with obstacles and hardships to overcome, and sets the usual heroes as his obstacles.

Much like how in Death Note, the main character is obviously evil, but he's still the main character.
 
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Volimar

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This thread is not for attacking the OP. Stay on topic.
 

SugarNoodles

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Nov 3, 2017
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...you do realize that there is a difference between being the Hero and being the Protagonist right? Protagonist doesn't suddenly mean that they need to be the good guy. It just means they need to be the main character.

You say lack of basic understanding of writing but your conflating Hero and Protagonist.
I literally did not use the word 'hero' once in this thread.
 

Astral/H3X

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Oct 25, 2017
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I literally did not use the word 'hero' once in this thread.
The protagonist of the story is the main character. The protagonist of a story is the one for whom obstacles are set in their place, that they must overcome to achieve their goals. The protagonist is the one that the story focuses on their viewpoint, their angle, their struggle, their victory.

The protagonist is *NOT* 'the good guy' or 'the guy who is right'.
 

Scuffed

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Oct 28, 2017
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They really did a great job making him interesting. So many villains have a baked in interest having been in so many things. The Joker comes to mind. He's been played so well by many people it makes the character captivating and gives him instant mainstream appeal. Thanos was new for most people so to make him memorable must have been very difficult but they did it.
 

Kalentan

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Oct 25, 2017
10,299
I literally did not use the word 'hero' once in this thread.
You didn't use the word but from your own statements you seemed to presume that the protagonist can only be the good guy. Thanos is the villain of the movie that much is true. However he is the character of which we see the most and goes on a literal 'journey', therefore the protagonist. The good guys of the movie are the antagonists because they provide a foil for him.
 
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ZattMurdock

ZattMurdock

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No, he's "the best villain of all time" because the film is structured in a way that places him in the usual slot of the protagonist, that is to say, the film is set up to provide Thanos with obstacles and hardships to overcome, and sets the usual heroes as his obstacles.

Much like how in Death Note, the main character is obviously evil, but he's still the main character.
The protagonist of the story is the main character. The protagonist of a story is the one for whom obstacles are set in their place, that they must overcome to achieve their goals. The protagonist is the one that the story focuses on their viewpoint, their angle, their struggle, their victory.

The protagonist is *NOT* 'the good guy' or 'the guy who is right'.
Excellent points.
 

Xaszatm

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Oct 25, 2017
7,246
I literally did not use the word 'hero' once in this thread.
No but you are conflating the two. You are saying Thanos cannot be the protagonist because he is the antagonist, but the only way that works is if you are considering antagonist = villain and protagonist = hero. Thanos is the protagonist because he is the central character of the movie. He is the villain of the film, but from the film's standpoint, he is the protagonist because he is the one with the arc.
 

SugarNoodles

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Nov 3, 2017
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The protagonist of the story is the main character. The protagonist of a story is the one for whom obstacles are set in their place, that they must overcome to achieve their goals. The protagonist is the one that the story focuses on their viewpoint, their angle, their struggle, their victory.

The protagonist is *NOT* 'the good guy' or 'the guy who is right'.
Again, I am aware of the difference between the "good guy/hero" and the protagonist. That's why I specifically used the word protagonist.

And how in the name of all that is holy do those factors you mentioned not apply to the Avengers?
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,860
No, he's "the best villain of all time" because the film is structured in a way that places him in the usual slot of the protagonist, that is to say, the film is set up to provide Thanos with obstacles and hardships to overcome, and sets the usual heroes as his obstacles.

Much like how in Death Note, the main character is obviously evil, but he's still the main character.
What's frustrating for me is that all villains should have obstacles and hardships to overcome. Marvel villains have been terrible because they refuse to give half of them any real screentime. They generally get one scene to spout off their agenda, another to show they're super mean and evil, and then their finale. Thanos was a villain finally given screentime to show these obstacles and hardships as any good villain should. He's a great Marvel villain because he finally met the bar that has been set for ages, and Marvel villains failed time-and-time again to meet.
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
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Oct 25, 2017
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Protagonist =/= Good guy

A lot of people will base their argument around that misconception
 
Jan 10, 2018
3,610
So why is he the best of all time again? Yes, Thanos is the protagonist and yes, that is unusual and they excecuted it well(except for establishing why he is so bad), but that just is. Doesn't make him best, worst or anything in between.
 

zeuanimals

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Nov 23, 2017
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Thanos is a good villain. Nothing amazing. But nah. For Thanos to deserve to win, we would have to buy into his bullshit that half the population needs to die. Because his planet and his people fucked themselves is poor anecdotal reasoning for why the rest of the universe needs to kill 50%. His logic was shite.
Weren't they a super advanced race that knew how to travel the cosmos? If they managed to perish while still being super advanced, then that's kind of on them. I'm also surprised nobody on that planet knew magic. Dr. Strange can create self-refilling pints of beer, I'm sure he's powerful enough to end world hunger.

Shit, humans just created lab-grown meat. They didn't have that on Titan?
 
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SugarNoodles

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Nov 3, 2017
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I wouldnt say so, but you're not really paying mind to their verbiage: "We sort of..."

Protagonists and main characters arent even the same thing, but you're using the terms as if they're interchangeable.

Here's a helpful breakdown:

http://johnaugust.com/2005/whats-the-difference-between-hero-main-character-and-protagonist



Hopefully you can see the difference between a story revolving around a character and that character actually being the protagonist.
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
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Oct 25, 2017
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I dunno about all this "greatest villain" stuff, but i am happy the version we got was nothing like the one that showed up in Guardians 1, promising to "bathe the starways in blood" while floating around in a rocket chair.

That one would have been a disaster. Thank God for Russos
Man wait until Feige does Triumph and Torment, the Youtube armchair film doctors will be all over themselves
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,860
Protagonist =/= Good guy

A lot of people will base their argument around that misconception
Agreed. But I'm going to be super edgy here and say that because I go back-and-forth so much between Thanos being the protagonist/not being the protagonist...perhaps they're all protagonists? We switch between point-of-view so much in this story that it's hard for me to say Thanos is the sole protagonist.

I wouldnt say so, but you're not really paying mind to their verbiage: "We sort of..."

Protagonists and main characters arent even the same thing, but you're using the terms as if they're interchangeable.

Here's a helpful breakdown:

http://johnaugust.com/2005/whats-the-difference-between-hero-main-character-and-protagonist



Hopefully you can see the difference between a story revolving around a character and that character actually being the protagonist.
I'm a big fan of John August, and he does a great job breaking it all down here.
 

Astral/H3X

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Oct 25, 2017
2,169
Again, I am aware of the difference between the "good guy/hero" and the protagonist. That's why I specifically used the word protagonist.

And how in the name of all that is holy do those factors you mentioned not apply to the Avengers?
Again, I *really* hate to use Death Note as an example, but it's the most blatant that I can think of.

In Death Note, Kira/Light is the villain of the story, killing thousands of people. L and the collective Police forces are trying to stop him. L, as well as his successors, uh, N and M or whoever, have their own character arcs and are clearly 'the heroes', but the story isn't 'about them'. They aren't the protagonists, Kira is. The story is about all the shit that Kira goes through to kill all bad people. It's about all the fucked up shit that he does to himself and the people he loves in his struggle to Kill All Bad People (tm), whether he's right in his way of thinking or not. L, M, N, and the cops are obstacles that Kira attempts to overcome, and the story is framed in a "How will Kira avoid getting caught" manner.

Similarly, Thanos is very obviously the bad guy, but the story primarily follows Thanos in his goals of getting the Infinity Stones. We see the rest of the Avengers, and we see the things that they are doing to stop Thanos, but the story revolves around Thanos, making him the Protagonist.
 

SugarNoodles

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Nov 3, 2017
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Again, I *really* hate to use Death Note as an example, but it's the most blatant that I can think of.

In Death Note, Kira/Light is the villain of the story, killing thousands of people. L and the collective Police forces are trying to stop him. L, as well as his successors, uh, N and M or whoever, have their own character arcs and are clearly 'the heroes', but the story isn't 'about them'. They aren't the protagonists, Kira is. The story is about all the shit that Kira goes through to kill all bad people. It's about all the fucked up shit that he does to himself and the people he loves in his struggle to Kill All Bad People (tm), whether he's right in his way of thinking or not. L, M, N, and the cops are obstacles that Kira attempts to overcome, and the story is framed in a "How will Kira avoid getting caught" manner.

Similarly, Thanos is very obviously the bad guy, but the story primarily follows Thanos in his goals of getting the Infinity Stones. We see the rest of the Avengers, and we see the things that they are doing to stop Thanos, but the story revolves around Thanos, making him the Protagonist.
Do you understand the difference between a protagonist and a main character?
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,860
Again, the Infinity War writers themselves said that they wrote Thanos as the protagonist to make the movie work.
Do you have a quote of them saying this? I only ask because if we break down by Hero, Main Character, and Protagonist, Thanos is easily the Main Character. And I see a lot of articles of them talking about making the movie about Thanos, him leading it, etc. But none where they say he is the protagonist (that I can find). I have no hill to die on and I'm genuinely asking because we're all being so picky that I want to hop in and see if we can all put a definitive pin in this.

I take this all back. I've changed my mind. He is the protagonist.
 

Slayven

You probably post about me on another board.
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Agreed. But I'm going to be super edgy here and say that because I go back-and-forth so much between Thanos being the protagonist/not being the protagonist...perhaps they're all protagonists? We switch between point-of-view so much in this story that it's hard for me to say Thanos is the sole protagonist.

I'm a big fan of John August, and he does a great job breaking it all down here.
If you go by the broad definition of the word he is a protagonist. But if someone doesn't think he is, it doesn't diminish the movie make me lose any sleep over it.

As long as people don't go as hard as the "Killmonger was right" folks. Killmonger bad several valid points and you can empathize with him to a point, but motherfucker was ultimately crazy and wrong
 

Joshg27

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Oct 25, 2017
1,072
Thanos is good as an unstoppable force that puts the heroes to the test but as an actual character he's very lacking. His motivations are extremely muddled and nothing about his cause resonates emotionally. They might fix this in the second movie but I don't care to give them credit based on what they might do.
 

Alexandros

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Oct 26, 2017
6,606
I wouldnt say so, but you're not really paying mind to their verbiage: "We sort of..."

Protagonists and main characters arent even the same thing, but you're using the terms as if they're interchangeable.

Here's a helpful breakdown:

http://johnaugust.com/2005/whats-the-difference-between-hero-main-character-and-protagonist



Hopefully you can see the difference between a story revolving around a character and that character actually being the protagonist.
Look, I don't want to sound like an asshole, but you should really give this argument up. Here is another interview.

https://filmschoolrejects.com/markus-and-mcfeely/

Most recently, the two faced one of their largest writing challenges yet in developing the story for Avengers: Infinity War and the untitled Avengersfilm releasing next year. 20 something characters and more than a dozen films to connect is more than enough to make any writer get overwhelmed. They had to narrow things down, see where different characters left off, and get to the heart of what everything was essentially building up to. Everything had to somehow come together without inducing a plethora of different stories.

Knowing their ending for Infinity War definitely helped with this, and from there, it all clicked. Or should I say snapped?

It was Thanos.

I think at one point we thought he’s on a hero’s journey. He’s the main character. Everyone else is responding to him.” McFeely explained. “This is how everyone can come in just enough. He forces the action. Once we decided that, the movie got really manageable. It wasn’t manageable before.”
So, let this one go. You and BossAttack are arguing directly against the writers of the film.
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,860
If you go by the broad definition of the word he is a protagonist. But if someone doesn't think he is, it doesn't diminish the movie make me lose any sleep over it.

As long as people don't go as hard as the "Killmonger was right" folks. Killmonger bad several valid points and you can empathize with him to a point, but motherfucker was ultimately crazy and wrong
Agreed. And I just read another article and have to agree...Thanos really is the one going on the "Hero's Journey." And even though it has hero in the name, when I think of it from that perspective and his journey to get the stones, I have to concede that he is surely the protagonist.

Aaaand Alexandros just posted part of what I read a moment ago. Good timing.
 

Corky

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Dec 5, 2018
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he's kind of shit. He alright for a marvel film, but you can find better villains in a bad james bond movie
 

Astral/H3X

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Oct 25, 2017
2,169
If you go by the broad definition of the word he is a protagonist. But if someone doesn't think he is, it doesn't diminish the movie make me lose any sleep over it.

As long as people don't go as hard as the "Killmonger was right" folks. Killmonger bad several valid points and you can empathize with him to a point, but motherfucker was ultimately crazy and wrong
Well even if you're making a sympathetic villain, you still have to make them definitively *wrong* for them to still be a villain, even if they came to be 'wrong' through good-hearted reasons.
 

CloudWolf

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Oct 26, 2017
6,361
Not that I agree with the premise but the key word is blockbuster here. Greatest film villain of all time would be a complete joke naturally.
It's still a complete joke, even if we take into account that this only counts "blockbusters". Thanos would be up against the likes of Hannibal Lecter, Michael Corleone and Colonel Kurtz, to name a few.

Or do those films suddenly not count as blockbusters anymore?
 

Complicated

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Oct 29, 2017
2,111
I thought he was an ok villain. A series of movies about how he became what he is in infinity war similar to what the heroes got would have been the smart thing to do. We just got a flashback or two with a shallow reasoning for why he is doing what he's doing. They foreshadowed his existence and the threat he would pose throughout the marvel movies, but his plan was pretty much introduced and carried out in this one movie as one of several plot lines. Maybe there will be more reflection on him in the next movie.
 
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ZattMurdock

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Hollywood Duo

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It's still a complete joke, even if we take into account that this only counts "blockbusters". Thanos would be up against the likes of Hannibal Lecter, Michael Corleone and Colonel Kurtz, to name a few.

Or do those films suddenly not count as blockbusters anymore?
No I wouldn’t call any of those blockbusters.
 
Oct 28, 2017
7,012
The greatest blockbuster villain of all time? Man some of these comic fans really really crazy.
I may not agree with the statement but the argument as presented is most valid. THANOS IS THERE WITH THE GREATS.

He is the antagonist. Claiming that he is the protagonist can only be done when lacking a basic understanding of writing.

I lack a basic understanding of writing, may you please explain why Thanos is not the protagonist?
 

Osahi

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Oct 27, 2017
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I’ll have to watch the videos later to see the arguments but Thanos is not the protagonist of IW. For the simple reason the movie is not told from his perspective at all. He is never introduced to us as the one who’s story and struggles we will folow. When he shares the screen with the Avengers, the story is told from their perspective, not Thanoses. We are not suposed to, let alone cinematically told to identify with him. He is the antagonist as opposed to the protagonists: the Avengers.

This is not the hero versus villain thing. Villains/bad people can be protagonists. But this means the story is an exploration of their character and struggles and - best case scenario - tracks how the story changes them. This is nog the case with Thanos, whose ‘story’ is onedimensional and straightforward. He wants something, he tries to get it, and he gets it. There is no ‘need’ he has to discover, that is contrasted with his ‘want’. There is no self-discovery, no catharsis, no change.

If he truly is meant as the protagonist, it’s not well written from a dramaturgical standpoint. And it’s certainly badly directed and edited.
 

SugarNoodles

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Nov 3, 2017
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I lack a basic understanding of writing, may you please explain why Thanos is not the protagonist?
Protagonists and main characters arent even the same thing, but you're using the terms as if they're interchangeable.

Here's a helpful breakdown:

http://johnaugust.com/2005/whats-the-difference-between-hero-main-character-and-protagonist



Hopefully you can see the difference between a story revolving around a character and that character actually being the protagonist.
 
Oct 26, 2017
6,860
Um, where does this interview mention anything involving the word "protagonist"?
What did it for me was:

“I think at one point we thought he’s on a hero’s journey. He’s the main character. Everyone else is responding to him.” McFeely explained. “This is how everyone can come in just enough. He forces the action. Once we decided that, the movie got really manageable. It wasn’t manageable before.”
Along with this from John August:
The character who changes over the course of the story, travelling from Point A to Point B, either literally or figuratively. She learns and grows as the story progresses. Generally, Protagonists want something at the start of the tale, and discover they need something else.
Thanos travels from Point A to point B literally in his quest for the stones. And I listen to Scriptnotes regularly, and they frequently talk about protagonists not needing to necessarily change as well. There are some protagonists who only re-affirm their already held beliefs throughout a movie, and I think Thanos fits nicely with that as well.
 

CloudWolf

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Oct 26, 2017
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No I wouldn’t call any of those blockbusters.
So how would you classify a 'blockbuster movie' then? Because all three movies I mentioned were absolutely huge and ended up in the Top 10 highest grossing movies of their respective release years. Traditionally, blockbuster movies are defined as hugely popular and financially succesful movies, so all three would easily qualify.
 

Hollywood Duo

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Oct 25, 2017
14,879
So how would you classify a 'blockbuster movie' then? Because all three movies I mentioned were absolutely huge and ended up in the Top 10 highest grossing movies of their respective release years. Traditionally, blockbuster movies are defined as hugely popular and financially succesful movies, so all three would easily qualify.
Action heavy fast paced movie for a mass audience. Silence of the Lambs being a blockbuster is a very strange assertion to me.
 

Kalentan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,299
I wouldnt say so, but you're not really paying mind to their verbiage: "We sort of..."

Protagonists and main characters arent even the same thing, but you're using the terms as if they're interchangeable.

Here's a helpful breakdown:

http://johnaugust.com/2005/whats-the-difference-between-hero-main-character-and-protagonist



Hopefully you can see the difference between a story revolving around a character and that character actually being the protagonist.
The problem with that link and using it is that it's not end all be all.

Cause look it at here: https://narrativefirst.com/articles/demystifying-protagonist-and-main-character

This goes over the differences between the protagonist and main character and states that the protagonist is:

"The Protagonist is defined as the character pursuing the Story Goal"

Which fits Thanos. He is trying to gather the Infinity Stones and the Avengers are trying to stop him from getting them.

We see him for most of the movie. He doesn't just appear when the hero's are on screen. At the end of the movie it is not: "The Avengers will return" it's "Thanos will return" taking the spot that the usual protagonists have.
 

Alexandros

Banned
Oct 26, 2017
6,606
I mean, if this hill is "protagonist and main character are not the same thing" then yes I absolutely will
Ok, but you should have gone for the head.

*snap*

https://screencraft.org/2018/05/17/how-avengers-infinity-war-created-a-complex-protagonist-in-thanos/

One of the more interesting nuggets from the interviews comes when the idea of Thanos as the antagonist is questioned. The screenwriters of the film, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, maintain that Thanos, not any one of the Avengers, is the protagonist of their script. McFeely says, “[Thanos] is the protagonist. He overcomes odds. He sacrifices a lot and gets what he wants in the end.” Indeed, Thanos is on his own Hero’s Journey — his mission is driving the narrative forward. At the end of the second act, who is it that experiences the ultimate low point, the ultimate “all is lost”? McFeely continues, “At the end of act two something bad was going to happen to Thanos. That’s when [Gamora] goes over the cliff… It’s the worst thing that can happen to him, but it’s a necessary evil to get what he wants.”