I don’t have a ton of time to answer this week. But, this discussion has not reached a consensus.
It seems to me that there is a pretty clear argument in Infinity War…
Life should be pruned so it doesn’t grow out of bounds unless disruption is what makes life worth defending in the first place.
(The Crucial Elemnts would be Help vs Hinder)
I think what makes this challenging is that the relationship story is hard to see unless you can track all the ICs. As Jim pointed out, one almost needs a Marvel theology degree to do so. But, I don’t agree that this is Jesus Chainsaw Massacre since that is just the Passion Tale ripped from a larger work. (Sorry, couldn’t resist). And, if anything, the weakness in the RS is what makes it hard to see where the Protagonist and the Antagonist roles are in the film. I would argue, that this is a Melodrama—doesn’t it feel like a Greek play? It is kind of a cool one because the MC is a “bad” protagonist—Something we saw in Civil War. But, this time subjectively instead of objectively.
When I did my analysis, I left the oucome blank and had to dive into the signposts before bouncing back to landing on the proper RS element. The element I picked based on Thor’s Vengeance with Thanos over Loki, Starlord’s grief with Thanos over Gamora, and Scarlet Witch and Vision’s sacrifice…was a Solution of feeling and this implied a Success Outcome (It could only be a failure story if the RS shared the OS problem element—and, it doesn’t seem to fit). Since Thanos Wins, he is the Protagonist. This seems to fit with the fact that he is collecting stones and the Infinity Gauntlet acts as an Optionlock clock for the OS story. (If I’m wrong about the outcome, than Thanos is the Antagonist and the Avengers handoff and sometimes split the protagonist role)
I would think of the RS almost like Ring Bearers. Like they are akin with Thanos because they have weilded Cosmic Power Items (Stones, Hammer/axe or Guantlet). This bonds them like siblings of a sort across the universe. Perhaps weakest in storytelling, but most clearly stated is how Vision (who is not even human is protected by the lives of many others despite his own desire to sacrifice himself for humanity) because he is one of them and considered alive and not to be pruned.
As an MC, Thanos’ personal problems have to do with Conscience because his standing for his long term desire to rebalance life no matter the short term cost is what drives him. As a steadfast character, he never gives into Temptation even though he is tempted to spare Gamora.
The key ICs change from a lack of Support (after the band broke up and plus a lot of them don’t know each other) to Oppose. Thor, Starlord, Vision, and Dr. Strange all indirectly go after Thanos without considering the Guantlet’s power. Thor doesn’t decapitate the head so he can savor the emotion, Starlord messes up project-remove-Gauntlet when he realizes his GF was murdered, and Vision’s sacrifice is meaningless since Thanos is a Cher fan (he can turn back time) (sorry it is late). —none of their ending actions is a direct prevention…they are not only objectively outmatched in the OS, but they are subjectively outmatched by Thanos who not only makes his finger-snap, but also delivers the emotional blows to each of the romances and bromances the ICs have in the story.
The bad judgment is clear when Thanos is hanging out in the Soul Stone/Stuck in his mind (Dramatica pun intended) with little Gamora haunting him, “Is it Done?” —this green little girl isn’t going anywhere and Thanos will always wish he could have spared her.
I think one can argue that the OS is fragmented across other films for some of the backstory, the Change the ICs undergo could have been managed better, the justification for keeping Vision alive at the expense of others is inconsistent with the ICs POV at times or weakly justified, and the RS throughline is weak if not absent.
But, I don’t think you can successfully argue that this movie doesn’t have a storyform. At the very least, the MC and the OS are enough to fill in the gaps of what is missing for the IC and the RS through modeling it out. So, if it is broken, our minds can fill in the gaps so they can get the whole cast their screen-time. I think they would have needed another thirty minutes to sprinkle in the RS properly.