WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War, in theaters now.
Although Avengers: Infinity War features dozens of characters from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, directors Joe and Anthony Russo believe only one is on the hero's journey at the heart of the film.
Appearing Wednesday in Washington, D.C., at an event sponsored by Smithsonian Associates, the educational programming branch of the Smithsonian, the Russo brothers discussed the process and themes behind the blockbuster. When developing the story, they deliberately placed Chris Hemsworth's Thor in the spotlight, giving his storyline the hallmarks of a hero's journey, with the character's emotional connection and motivations for vanquishing Thanos after losing his people to the Mad Titan in the movie's prologue.
However, while building up the expectation that Thor would be the Avenger to ultimately defeat Thanos, the Russos revealed that, in actuality, it's the Mad Titan, played by Josh Brolin, who goes on the true hero's journey over the course of the film.
Anthony Russo observed that many of the major points of the narrative largely occur from Thanos' point of view, including the character having to sacrifice what he loves the most to obtain his goals. Primarily through his interactions with Gamora (Zoe Saldana), his character arc provides insight into the antagonist's emotional and psychological motivations and vulnerabilities. He then develops into one of the more nuanced and three-dimensional characters in the MCU rather than a mere stock villain.
As such, when Thor and Thanos get their long-awaited rematch at the film's climax, Infinity War's true protagonist ultimately is the one to emerge triumphant.
Check back later for CBR's full report of the Russo brothers' Smithsonian presentation.
Directed by Joe and Anthony Russo, Avengers: Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chadwick Boseman, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Tom Hiddleston, and Josh Brolin. The film is in theaters now.