the heroes represent different power constructs, human or otherwise, and the story is about the ways in which Thanos is able to transcend them.
I see a few levels. First, the gods. The power metaphors.
Thor is a human god, or if you prefer: Jesus. or like, human belief as a concept. Or a super-evolved alien that for all intents and purposes is to us a god, and who loves our world enough to sacrifice himself for it.
Groot is a god of nature, effectively immortal and unstoppable, but ambivalent to everything but the most dramatic of gestures. Thor has to crucify himself just to get Groot’s attention for long enough for him to notice and help with the hammer.
Rocket is a god of science, an animal who literally steals power from the universe for himself, because he can. He’s entranced by his newest friend Thor– the revelation that god-like power is real and attainable.
The gods forged their ultimate weapon, taking the power of the stars themselves, just like Thanos did. In the end, Thor wielded a power that could have killed Thanos even at the very height of his power. He just should have gone for the head.
The second level I see is the demi-gods. The space-humans. I see them all as different metaphors for intelligence.
Iron Man is the industrialist. His moral compass keeps him grounded, though he is still hopelessly addicted to the power that his craft has given him.
Spiderman is his protege, the new generation. he gains all the power of the Iron Man but unlike Stark he’s superhuman even without the suit. But he still needs Iron Man to show him what to do.
Doctor Strange is a man who can change reality. He holds the power of time itself but never uses it except as a tool to see.
Star Lord is the man who believes in love. He’s created his own team in space, a higher plane where gods and mortals can live together and share power.
Their plan was great, and would have defeated Thanos but for Star Lord’s ego, and his failure to understand why Thanos would murder his daughter.
The next level; the heroes of Earth. The philosophies.
Black Panther and his Wakanda represent the concept of place-based identity, ie nations. The people fighting Thanos on Earth only have a chance because he decides to open his borders not just to the heroes, but even to the enemy.
Hulk is the god of money. Bruce Banner represents the impotence of power suffered by cultural elites who are completely failing to get angry enough to use their true power against the enemy.
Steve Rogers is the spirit of the Avengers, freedom, self-improvement, happiness pursuit and what have you. Um… what was his arc again? Oh right it was to be forgiven for slavery, like really early on in the film. But mainly to be the uniting ideal– the branding. He is the man who shows us who the enemy is.
The Winter Soldier is an anarchist I think. At the start of the film he’s welcomed back to the fight and re-armed by Wakanda.
I guess I see the various minorities represented in token Avenger roles. Or did you forget to notice that the space humans were all white men?
The next level: the lovers. The biology of human meaning.
Wanda and Vision are the most powerful of all the Avengers still on Earth, but they spend their time fucking instead of fighting. I see them represent the two faces of human thought: intellect and emotion. Too much of either incapacitates a person.
Wanda would rather be in love than save the world. In a way it’s the sanest decision, but at the same time, it robs her of the will to fight.
Vision sees more meaning in the world than in himself (or his relationship). He is a slave to his concept of extrinsic order, tormented by the nihilistic chaos he perceives all around him.
In the end, Vision attempts to save the world via glorious suicide, and Wanda kills him because he asks her to. And. all. for. nothing. Vision gets resurrected to have his mind ripped out. Nihilism proven. Let’s go back to being animals.
no no no hang on. this is GENDERED. EXPLICITLY GENDERED. pay attention. He’s become a fucking autistic robot in love with his own mind, and she just wants to be in love and attaches herself to the first powerful man that enters her life. they don’t notice that they don’t really notice each other. that their romance simply *became* is no story accident. it’s our story. love just is. dumb stupid love, ruining everything by becoming everything.
Nick Fury, right before he took *way* longer than anyone else to die, signaled perhaps our last hope: Captain Marvel. google it.
let me begin again.
A titan named Thanos has gained the infinity stone of power by commiting a genocide. anyone can be a killer if they believe it is right to kill. Thanos’ belief in himself makes him capable of destroying people for disagreeing with him. transcendence of extrinsic faith is power over one’s own will, which is the foundation of power over reality.
Thanos gains the infinity stone of space by ambushing the gods of Asgard. Because in the end they aren’t really gods, just a higher stage of evolution with more power. Loki recants his nihilism at the last minute to save Thor’s life and gives up the space stone to Thanos. the space stone represents the knowledge that we in fact *are* the centre of the universe: that faith is the foundation of all knowledge.
The Collector holds the stone of reality, representing the knowledge that reality is simply information. once we had collected enough, it was there for the taking.
the soul stone. a power of absolute faith. Thanos believed he was doing the right thing. He transcended his ability to love for the sake of his goal.
the time stone. Doctor Strange said giving it to Thanos was the only way. he saw only one future in which we survive, and judging by his choice, it’s the one where protecting Tony Stark was more important than protecting half the universe. will we ever understand his decision? What was the future that he saw?
Or, was he just in love with Tony?
We will never ever know.
Wanda could have defended the mind stone, if she wasn’t so busy killing Vision at his request. She didn’t seem to notice how strong she was.
And Thor simply failed to kill Thanos for his crimes.