Eight years ago today, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was born with the North American release of the first Iron Man movie. Now, 13 movies and 4 TV shows later (with many more on the way), the MCU is the largest and most successful franchise of all time. Of course, it wasn’t always that way. To celebrate the MCU turning eight years old, we decided to pick out 8 of our favorite moments of MCU history. Whether they happened in the movies themselves or were announcements about the movies, these eight moments make us proud to be fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
1) “You’ve become part of a bigger universe. You just don’t know it yet.”
Our list has to start with the post-credits scene in the very fist MCU movie, Iron Man. After completely surprising audiences with a fantastic movie from a B-list hero, Marvel gave us our very first tease of what was to come. With our introduction to Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury, we got to hear the words “Avenger Initiative” spoken on screen for the very first time. While the casual moviegoer might have been confused, comic book fans knew this post-credits scene meant only one thing: it was about to be a great time to be a nerd.
2)The Avengers Assemble
Way back in the prehistoric age of 2010, The Avengers seemed like a risky property that could either be a smash hit or a colossal mess. Putting superheroes that we’d heard of together on screen was one thing, but to try and put characters like Thor and Captain America together on the same screen? Some thought it was impossible. Still, this announcement from San Diego Comic Con in 2010 showed us that it might not be so impossible after all, with the entire Avengers cast assembling on stage together for the first time, with director Joss Whedon. Despite some confusion over the casting of Mark Ruffalo(thanks to Robert Downey, Jr. accidentally saying he was “reprising” his role as Bruce Banner), this still goes down as a great moment in MCU History
3) Hail Hydra
It can be argued that no single movie changed the course of the MCU more than Captain America: The Winter Soldier. With a surprise reveal that Hydra had thoroughly infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D., The Winter Soldier dismantled an agency that, up to that point, had been responsible for almost every major development in the MCU. From assembling the Avengers to establishing the MCU’s presence on television, S.H.I.E.L.D. was an essential part of the MCU, and its dismantling had repercussions that were felt throughout all aspects of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and made fans wonder who we could trust.
4) Spidey Comes Home
Without a doubt Marvel’s most well-known and beloved character, Spider-Man was a hero that fans have wanted to see join the Avengers since the beginning of the MCU. However, with his rights tied up at Sony, most assumed that it was something that would simply never happen. In early 2015, Marvel and Sony announced an unprecedented deal between the studios that would allow Sony to retain the rights, while still placing Spidey in the MCU. Tom Holland, the actor chosen to play the new Spider-Man, will appear in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War (where he steals the show), produced by Marvel, before appearing in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming with Robert Downey, Jr., produced by Sony.
5) Vision Lifts Mjolnir
While some fans were disappointed in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film embraced its comic book ancestry more fully than many movies that came before it, and gave comic book nerds a few special treats that had us all geeking out in the theater. One of these moments, Vision casually lifting Thor’s hammer, had been set-up early in the film during another great scene where each Avenger takes turns trying to lift Mjolnir at a party. Not even Captain America is worthy enough to budge the hammer more than an inch, but Vision proves that he is on the right side when he lifts it without any effort at all. The Avengers’ stunned silence after Vision picks up the hammer was filled with cheers and screams as fans across the world witnessed this epic moment.
6) The Defenders Announcement
While this announcement didn’t necessarily make big waves at the time, it has since proven to be one of the most important expansions of the MCU. The network television offerings of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have received mixed ratings, but the Netflix Defenders properties have signaled a much darker and realistic corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been met with almost universal praise. The announcement of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist was a turning point for the MCU, as it continued its expansion into new mediums, tones, and visual styles while still remaining a cohesive universe.
7) Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Surprise Opening Weekend
Ah, 2014. We were all so naive and innocent back then. In the video above, you can watch the folks over at the Schmoes Know Movie Show make their predictions about the opening weekend performance for the brand new Marvel property Guardians of the Galaxy. Their doubts about the franchise seems absurd now, but back in 2014 many people were wondering if the space movie starring a talking raccoon and his friend, Vin Diesel the tree, would be Marvel’s first flop. The movie went on to obliterate even the most optimistic expectations, grossing $94 Million during its first weekend. The film’s success proved to fans that the Marvel brand name was strong enough to sell even the most obscure properties, and the MCU could handle a tonally and stylistically diverse range of characters and films.
8) The El Capitan Phase 3 Announcement
In October 2014, Kevin Feige held a special presentation at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles, California. Attendees had no idea what to expect, and were treated to one of the largest, most comprehensive announcements in MCU history. Feige announced the entire Phase 3 slate of the MCU, including new properties such as Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Inhumans and Black Panther, while also confirming sequels for Thor, Captain America, and Guardians of the Galaxy. As if that wasn’t enough, he announced the massive two-part finale to phase three, Avengers: Infinity War parts 1 and 2, which would be the culmination of everything the universe had been building to for the first two phases. And to top everything off, Feige revealed that the third Captain America movie would be Civil War, a movie which comes out in only a few short days and which many critics are calling the best the MCU has offered so far. While the Phase 3 slate has changed since Feige’s announcement, the El Capitan presentation gave us a long-term glimpse at the master plan for the future of the MCU.
Do you agree with our list of the greatest moments in the history of the MCU (so far)? Sound off in the comments below!