I still remember the time when the first Iron Man movie came out in 2008, starring Robert Downey Jr. playing a whip-smart, wise cracking Tony Stark. I didn’t know back then that it would spin off an entire universe that would take me on a roller coaster ride for the next 10 years. No, literally. I didn’t know the first thing about MCU. I even missed the post credits scene.
To me, it was just another attempt to make a childhood favourite superhero come alive on the big screens. I was sceptical. Iron Man has been an idol as I grew up reading the comics and watching the old Iron Man animated series. And with much of that fear, I brought home the DVD of the newly released movie. And boy, did I love it! I watched it over and over again. I played the game. Drew sketches of Iron Man all over my school notes.
Later that year, The Incredible Hulk came out starring Edward Norton. I used to love both Norton and Hulk. What could possibly go wrong?
It did. The movie wasn’t much. But to me, watching the Hulk smashing the big screens was more than what I could have asked for. It was at the end of the Incredible Hulk, I saw Tony Stark’s cameo and I began to ask if the two of these movies are connected. No, I wasn’t much into researching on the internet and decided to leave it out and move on.
It was not until Iron Man 2 came out in 2010 and the post credit scene showed Thor’s hammer, that I finally realised that all of these movies were taking place in the same universe. It was the moment of truth for me. I looked it up on the internet. I discovered MCU. I went back and started watching Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2 chronologically as they came out without missing a single detail, a single post credit scene. And I couldn’t wait for Thor to come out in 2011. My journey as a devoted MCU fan began.
As the MCU spun out Captain America: The First Avenger later in 2011, combining two of my most favourite topics, the World War and Captain America, and later in 2012, The Avengers, the culmination of the events taking place in the solo movies so far, it marked the end of phase one for MCU. By this time, I was well hooked into the MCU and keeping tabs on all that was happening, eagerly waiting for the next instalments.
Throughout the phase one, MCU spent 6 movies, slowly introducing its characters to the audience, spanning and expanding the universe, building up the stage and informing me about infinity stones.
And then phase two started with Iron Man 3 coming out in 2013, followed by Thor: The Dark World later that year. Each movie progressing the timeline of the universe a little bit more, giving me enough time to delve into the details, to familiarise the audience with its lesser known characters, form an attachment with MCU.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out in 2014, and it was perhaps the defining moment for MCU. To be absolutely honest, all the movies after Iron Man felt a bit short on appeal to me. They were, well, too light for my taste. I started noticing the disturbing trend in the MCU movies that felt most irritating. Serious moments ruined by misplaced jokes. That changed when Russo brothers gifted me The Winter Soldier. I felt like I watched a well-balanced, well-structed MCU movie after 6 years. The events within the MCU started taking a somewhat serious turn after this movie.
Guardians of the Galaxy came out later that year and I best not say much about this one because I never really like the tone of this movie, and I still don’t. But the details were important to closely follow the ascension of the massive inter-connected storyline MCU was weaving through the movies. Also, the mixtape. The mixtape is very important if you want to experience good music in life. I certainly did.
I loved Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, despite its weak storyline and to my absolute surprise and wonder, I fell head over heels in love with Ant Man when it came out at the end of 2015. Ant Man marked the end of phase two for MCU. By this time, the MCU was like an open book to me, waiting to finish the next chapter. The context was well-set. The big bad Thanos was introduced in detail in Guardians of the Galaxy and I couldn’t wait to see what’d happen next.
Phase three started with Captain America: Civil War coming out in 2016 that set the stage for bigger things to happen as Captain America and Tony Stark faced each other. This was a special movie for Captain America fans like me because this marked the end of the Captain America trilogy and Steve Rogers had finally dropped the shield for good. Doctor Strange came out later in 2016 introducing Hollywood’s beloved Brit Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. It was followed by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Spiderman: Homecoming and Thor: Ragnarok, all of which came out last year in 2017. In Spiderman: Homecoming I got to see an entirely new take on the friendly neighbourhood Spiderman who was more comic accurate that his predecessors.
Black Panther came out in 2018 and made history. It also made sure that MCU, in a long time, had a villain who was not a terrible joke. Needless to say, I enjoyed every moment of Black Panther.
That left the stage for the last and final act of phase three, Avengers: Infinity War which is now running in theatres. All of the movies from Iron Man in 2008 to Black Panther in 2018, had been building a universe, all leading to this one movie, Infinity War. In these 10 years, I saw my favourite characters being introduced, coming together, having shawarma together, fighting each other, breaking apart, living, dying, running away, protecting each other and so much more. The moments that were being built up for 10 years will finally unfold in the events of Infinity War and I don’t know what will happen in the movie, or what to expect. I am waiting for the buzz to die down a little bit so that I can go to the theatre and watch this movie in peace without overhyped kids shouting at every single frame, meanwhile dodging all the spoilers that are out there.
It took Marvel 10 years to build up this moment. 10 long years of an emotional journey filled with ups and downs. A journey of a little boy growing up with his favourite characters around him. This is the not the story of MCU only, this is the story of me as well. The story of how I grew up. The story of how the boy that sat in front of the television one fine day in 2008 to watch Iron Man will in a few days sit in the movies to watch Infinity War. This is the story of Marvel, and me.
Thank you, Marvel.