Whether you love it, hate it, or couldn’t care less about it, it is safe to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been highly successful and for the most part positively received. Its impact has been felt not only in the comic book community, but all throughout the world. What started as one seemingly standalone movie has spawned a whole universe of movies and characters that is culminating in the upcoming movie, Avengers: Infinity War. While we know that it will continue on after this movie, everything in the previous movies has been leading up to this.
Back in 2008 things were very different when looking at the superhero movie genre. Many characters had been portrayed on the big screen at one point or another. All these films were fairly self-contained and not dependent on other movies outside of sequels. At this point we had had trilogies of Spider-Man and X-Men, all the Superman movies, and of course the nineties Batman movies. Also, in 2008 we would get what many believe to be the best superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight. What we also got that year was the start of a brand-new universe of movies that, as of writing this, sits at eighteen.
The first of these movies was Iron Man, who to non-comic fans was probably not a very well known character. With many of Marvel’s big name character’s rights being held by other movie studios, like the X-Men, Fantastic Four, and Spider-Man, the new Marvel Studio had to look elsewhere to get things up and running. During this time in the comics, Iron Man was not a very popular character with the events of Civil War just happening, in which Tony Stark was depicted in more in the antagonistic role. When looking at all this, it was risky putting all this into an Iron Man movie. If it had flopped, we would more than likely not all be getting ready to head to theaters to watch Infinity War, lucky for us it didn’t, and we got the MCU.
At the time, I don’t know how many knew what would become of this new cinematic universe after Iron Man. The next movie we got was The Incredible Hulk, which even now looking back doesn’t feel at all like it is part of the MCU, except for a cameo at the end from a Mr. Tony Stark, signifying that these two separate movies were connected and in the same universe. It would only grow from there, continuing to add more characters and storylines we thought we would never get to see on the big screen.
When looking back through the history of movies, I don’t think we have seen anything like the MCU. There have been movies with sequels, trilogies, and spinoffs, but never before had there ever been a whole collection of movies chronicling lots of different characters in the same universe and ultimately heading down the same path. The closest that comes to mind is Star Wars, but it is not really the same since they had the original trilogy and then of course the prequels, but was really all just one story continuing on. However, since the rise of the MCU everyone is wanting a piece of the cinematic universe with properties like, the DCEU, Godzilla universe, Star Wars, and several others all trying to make their own versions.
The impact of the MCU has been felt by the general public and the comic book community alike. Looking at Marvel comic books in the past few years the influence is very evident. Things like changing characters looks and backstories to be more like the movies, granted some of that had to do with movie rights (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, although I pretend that didn’t happen). You could argue that the changes could be good or bad, but it is clear that the movies do have an impact on the comics.
For casual fans and general movie goers, it has helped get characters exposer that they might not have otherwise. In my opinion, it has also contributed to making nerds more excepted in the public eye. Being a nerd and liking things like comics or superheroes could sometimes be looked down on by some people. Since the emergence of the MCU and the popularization of the comic book movie, it seems that it has become more exceptable to be a nerd than in the past. At the same time, it has brought about the people who only watch the movies and claim to be experts on everything Marvel, which I know irritates people of the comic book loving community. While there are people like this, it has also inspired new fans to get into the comics because they enjoyed the movies.
Now, I am aware that the MCU has flaws and they have made some choices that I and others aren’t fans of, but the impact it is has had cannot be denied. For the past ten years we have been treated to over fifteen superhero movies, not to mention all the other outside of the MCU. Who would have ever imagined that we would be getting five or six superhero movies a year? As we look back on all that has been accomplished since Iron Man debuted ten years ago, a lot has happened. I never thought that we would see all the Avengers together on the big screen, but it happened, and it was the best movie theater experience that I have ever had. We never thought that we would see Spider-Man fighting along side the Avengers and then it did, and now we might get the Fantastic Four and the X-Men to join as well. Wherever the MCU goes from here and whatever characters join the ever growing roster, it is hard not to see the impact that it has had on cinema, comics, and people alike. The MCU was the first of its kind and the benchmark for all the other studios to compare themselves to. We have had ten years of movies, now we move forward and see where it goes next.