Is Thanos the Hero? Avengers Infinity War vs Save the Cat's Beat Sheet [Story Beats Explained]

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What is a Story Beat in a Screenplay? ►►

00:00 Is Thanos is the Hero in Avengers Infinity War?
01:46 What is the "Save the Cat" Beat Sheet?
02:00 Beat 1 — The Opening Image
02:46 Beat 2 — Theme Stated
03:29 Beat 3 — Setup
04:15 Beat 4 — Catalyst
04:46 Beat 5 — Debate
05:37 Beat 6 — Break into [Act] 2
06:29 Beat 7 — B Story
07:14 Beat 8 — Fun & Games
07:43 Beat 9 — Midpoint
08:37 Beat 10 — Bad Guys Close In
09:48 Beat 11 — All is Lost
10:30 Beat 12 — Dark Night of the Soul
11:52 Beat 13 — Break into [Act] 3
12:39 Beat 14 — Finale
15:54 Beat 15 — Final Image
16:52 Save the Cat & StudioBinder

Thanos is the ultimate villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But in Avengers: Infinity War, the screenwriters tried something quite radical. They made Thanos the protagonist with a complete character arc. Is Thanos really the hero in the Avengers: Infinity War script? In this video essay, we’ll use Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheet to track how Thanos becomes not only the central protagonist but a sympathetic one as well.

Wondering how to write a screenplay that keeps viewers engaged? The Save the Cat Story structure is not an exact science and there is no such thing as the perfect plot structure. But Blake Snyder and his Save the Cat beat sheet give screenwriters a road map to story structure that is typically used for heroes, not villains. Thanos’ search for the Infinity Gauntlet is what drives the Avengers Infinity War script but how can a villain be the protagonist?

Taking cues from Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, not only did the screenwriters and filmmakers behind Avengers: Infinity War develop Thanos as a complete protagonist of his own story, but he's a driving force behind the entire narrative. Rather than following dozens of superheroes in various parallel storylines, they used Thanos as the centerpiece.

The Save the Cat beat sheet has 15 steps: from the Opening Image and Theme Stated all the way through the Finale and Closing Image. And when we break down the screenplay for Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos is there for every major story beat. We don’t know if the Russo Brothers or the screenwriters used Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat beat sheet to write Avengers: Infinity War, but the script does line up in fascinating ways.

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