In retrospect, it’s easy to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was destined to be a winner from the start. After all, Marvel Studios creating a massive, interconnected universe explored via consistently blockbusting movies look easy. But then you cast your eyes over the multiple failed attempts to emulate it – your Dark Universes, your Andrew Garfield Spider-Man films and, let’s face it, the DCEU – and you remember that investing this much in a series of movies is a big risk, as if you release an outright flop, then you risk tainting every other film you’re putting out.
Now, in the new book Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years, Kevin Feige’s revealed the moment when he knew the MCU gamble would pay off, and it’s later than I thought it would be. It’s not when audiences went crazy for Nick Fury showing up in that first post-credits scene attached to Iron Man, and it’s not when Captain America woke up in present day New York. Nope, it’s four years into the MCU with the release of The Avengers that the producer says is the true turning point.
“I think it was The Avengers. The success of Iron Man was amazing. That gave us the confidence to do another Iron Man film, a Captain America film, and to introduce Thor. The success of The Avengers taught us that the audience really gets what we’re doing, and really enjoys the crosspollination of all of these different film series. And the audience told us unequivocally they were with us. That allowed us to plot out everything that we’ve done since then, and everything specifically building to Infinity War.”
Honestly, I have to agree here. Even after the success of their solo movies, bringing all these heroes together onto the same team could have gone very badly. Each of their solo movies is tonally different – from the techno-comedy of the Iron Man films, to the World War II pulp of Captain America right through to the cod-Shakespearian portentousness of Thor. But The Avengers proved that Marvel Studios was nothing if not an expert cinematic mixologist, combining these different flavors into a superior cocktail. And then they propelled themselves into the stratosphere by doing the same thing times ten in Infinity War.
Though there are rumors that Marvel won’t do any more huge team-up movies after Avengers 4, but I really hope they don’t abandon the concept altogether, as seeing very different characters rubbing shoulders is a pleasure you don’t get in many other movie franchises these days aside from the MCU.