For those of us who grew up in a pre-Millennium world, even the year 2020 looks and sounds futuristic. We’re living in a reality that sci-fi enthusiasts of the past could only dream of, whereas some of the wildest theories from days of yore are becoming increasingly mundane to us and particularly younger generations. Many inventions and ways of life previously only found between the pages of our favourite comics are now being played out in real life without anyone so much as batting an eyelid.

The past decade has seen monumental advancement in all sorts of technologies and forms of entertainment. We’ve seen HBO become a global phenomenon with its on-demand TV streaming service; gaming has moved online with websites like Poker Stars Casino and apps like Candy Crush Saga dominating the market; and both AR and VR technologies are becoming a daily reality. The speed with which technology in the entertainment industries is developing has allowed the comic book world we all know and love to finally be fully realised up on the big screen.

Marvel
Marvel

Perhaps the biggest catalyst in this development has been the enormous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read on for a retrospective of the past decade at Marvel and the Hollywood empire they’ve built.

Early Movies

It all began back in 2008, not with the The First Avenger, Steve Rogers, but with Robert Downey Jnr’s brilliant turn as the indomitable Iron Man. Director Jon Favreau’s action-comedy film received high praise from audiences and critics alike, kickstarting the upcoming franchise in a big way.

Iron Man’s success was quickly followed by a sequel in 2010, as other characters like the Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America began to be introduced to the public. Each major character garnered their own feature film, with other familiar faces such as Loki, Nick Fury and Black Widow appearing alongside them. This allowed Marvel to build an ensemble cast of well-loved characters that could then come together in the first Avengers movie. The Avengers enjoyed immense success at the box office, grossing over $1 billion dollars worldwide and establishing the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a force to be reckoned with.

Progression

More sequels quickly followed, with Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier all continuing to build on the success of earlier titles. New blood arrived in the form of Ant Man, the perfect vehicle for Paul Rudd’s well established form of comedy, and Guardians of the Galaxy, which gained its own particular legion of dedicated fans.

This phase of cinema releases culminated in the second Avengers ensemble film, Avengers: Age of Ultron. By now, the excitement around such a release had built to fever pitch and the movie smashed box office records left, right and centre when it first came out.

Saturation Point

2016 onwards has seen the industry reach saturation point with comic book movies. Marvel still reigns supreme but DC has also stepped up its game by revisiting favourite characters and working with new directors.

There have been enormously successful further sequels for fan favourites Captain America (Civil War), Thor (Ragnarok), and Ant Man (and the Wasp) as well as the introduction of more characters from the Marvel pantheon. Doctor Strange had mixed reviews but was generally well received in 2016, whereas the new Spider-Man reboot, starring Tom Holland, quickly went nuclear and gained legions of new fans in the process.

However, there are two Marvel films in particular that have made a significant and lasting impression on the movie industry as a whole. Black Panther was released to rave reviews in 2018, becoming the highest grossing solo superhero film of all time and the highest grossing film by a black director – ever. It was an unarguable triumph and set the tone moving forwards for inclusivity and representation in mainstream cinema. Another movie that broke boundaries was Captain Marvel, released last year in 2019. As Marvel’s first female-led superhero film, it was a big deal and certainly paid off, satisfying fans the world over and producers as it brought in the big bucks. Hopefully the unmitigated success of these two titles in particular marks a significant change for the better in Hollywood norms.

On the Horizon

Spider Man
Spider Man

Moving forward, Natasha Romanoff and her alter-ego Black Widow finally have their own movie coming out very soon. Much anticipated for many years, it remains to be seen whether this twenty-fourth Marvel movie will live up to expectations. It’s certainly got a good chance with its all-star cast.

There is also more Spider-Man, more Doctor Strange and even more Thor in the works, along with the introduction of new characters The Eternals, and Shang-Chi. The Marvel Cinematic Universe certainly shows no signs of going anywhere soon, and we are very glad about that fact.