SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War. If you have not yet seen the film, please bookmark this page, and save the read until after your screening!
Unlike the vast majority of superhero blockbusters, Avengers: Infinity War doesn't end with good triumphing over evil. Instead, the teaming of Earth's Mightiest Heroes and the Guardians of the Galaxy prove no match for Thanos and the power of the Infinity Stones, and the film concludes with half of life in existence being eliminated. This conclusion is partially earned because the Mad Titan had a smart plan and executed it well, but not to be ignored is the fact that there is some blame to go around among the heroes.
Specifically, there are five good guys in Avengers: Infinity War that made crucial moves/mistakes that inevitably led to Thanos completing his lifelong goal -- and it's those characters we're here to discuss today. Find our picks and explanations below and across the next few pages, and hit the comments section with your own thoughts on the matter.
Admittedly this one kind of hurts, given that the death of Gamora is one of the most emotionally effecting in all of Avengers: Infinity War (and that's really saying a lot). At the same time, though, she does have to take some of the blame in this whole mess. Yes, she did a whole lot to try and prevent Thanos from acquiring all six of the Infinity Stones, but she also happened to provide him the path towards the only one that he couldn't locate in years of searching.
Right off the bat there's the fact that Gamora once served Thanos by discovering the locations of the Infinity Stones, but her biggest mistakes all specifically involved the Soul Stone. First there is the fact that she went as far as to learn the real whereabouts of the ingot on Vormir (she could have just half-assed the job), but she also made the mistake of telling Nebula about it. Sure, she didn't specifically name the planet in conversation, but she also really shouldn't have been talking about it at all with someone who her stores memories on a hard drive. In short, Gamora is blameless for a lot of things, but there is also no denying that she made some mistakes.
Captain America has a strong moral code. Nobody could or should fault him for that. The problem is that it can sometimes be translated as stubborn. A perfect example of this is his unwillingness to sign the Sokovia Accords, but it is very much a part of Avengers: Infinity War as well. Specifically, it's his philosophy regarding trading lives, and his unwillingness to sacrifice Vision for the sake of half of the lives in the universe.
As the leader of the Avengers, Cap is presented a classic trolley problem, and instead of being the conductor choosing whether to run over one person or five, he decides that his best course of action is to jump out of the cab and stop the trolley. And much like a normal person trying to stop a locomotive in this fashion, this is a bad choice. He refuses to make the hard choice regarding Vision and the Mind Stone, and the result is devastating for reality. Oh, and that whole not trading lives thing? Where was that thinking when he crashed the plane during World War II and became a Capsicle?
It should be recognized up front that we are not blaming Bruce Banner here. He not only did an important thing warning humanity about the coming of Thanos, but he also put up one hell of a fight against the Outriders and the Black Order during the Battle in Wakanda. Instead, we're here to point the finger at the Hulk, who truly fails to step up when he is desperately needed in Avengers: Infinity War.
Hulk's ego may be bruised from his Thanos whupping, and he may be sick of "saving Banner's ass" as Joe Russo puts it, but those are poor excuses. If he were present and at full strength during the Battle In Wakanda he could have helped out significantly more than the Hulkbuster armor, but instead he decided to go the petulant route, and it helped doom half of the universe. He'll surely have a chance for redemption in Avengers 4 as the relationship between Bruce and the monster evolves, but for right now it's hard not to argue that he's partially to blame for Thanos' victory.
All of the heroes mentioned so far have at least somewhat rational explanations for their behavior during the events of Avengers: Infinity War, but there is no denying that Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord makes the most irrational, terrible mistake in the whole film. I am, of course, referring to his outburst during the off-world battle with Thanos. Thanks to the efforts of Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Mantis, Drax and Spider-Man, the Mad Titan is subdued and the team nearly gets his Gauntlet off... but then Star-Lord learns about what happened to Gamora. He is unable to control his rage, punches Thanos in the face, and ultimately destroys any chance the heroes have at stopping the alien from collecting all six Infinity Stones.
In Star-Lord's defense, he and Gamora were in a very close relationship for four years leading up to the events of Avengers: Infinity War, and it's clear that he just couldn't contain his emotion knowing that Thanos took her away from him. At the same time, however, had he held on for just a minute his teammates could have removed the Gauntlet and stopped the purple alien's ascent to god-hood. And we'd say it will be interesting to see how he'll deal with the guilt in Avengers 4, but he'll be dead at the start of that story.
At the end of the day, we believe that Doctor Strange is the hero most to blame for what happened at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, but more than any of the characters mentioned his situation is immensely complicated. He certainly makes the most controversial move in the movie, trading the Time Stone for the life of Tony Stark, which is also what directly leads Thanos down the path towards completing the Infinity Gauntlet. Of course, the popular defense for this chess move is the argument that he had to do it in order to ensure victory later down the road.
There is a scene in the second act of Avengers: Infinity War where Doctor Strange mentions that he has glimpsed 14,000,605 possible futures, and found that only one among them resulted in the good guys winning. As such, we have to believe that all of the actions he takes are to ensure that reality travels down that particular timeline. So while the brilliant surgeon and master of the mystic arts may be most to blame for the elimination of half the universe, he presumably did it for all the right reasons.