This weekend, Captain America: Civil War opens in theaters nationwide. It will be the thirteenth movie released under the Marvel Studios banner and the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Today, though, marks eight years of the MCU with the premiere of Iron Man, which started it all. Take into consideration for a minute that Iron Man, much less Tony Stark, was a B-Lister over at Marvel Comics who wasn't even a blip on the radar of the cultural zeitgeist. Now, thanks to the success of Iron Man, the MCU expanded and explored every nook and cranny of Marvel Comics. From the outer rim of far off galaxies to the dark alleys of Hell's Kitchen, the MCU has brought to life dozens of famous comic characters, and in the process made some not-so well known characters into the spotlight, turning them into pop culture icons (looking at you, Groot).
This was considered one of the riskiest moves in Hollywood history. With Robert Downey, Jr proving that he still had star power after a controversial past and a $140M budget (compared to 2012's Avengers', the culmination of Phase 1, budget of $220M) it opened at $98M and set the stage for things to come. The best part was it only got bigger from there, but fans didn't know just how big this would get. At the time, the thought of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk of sharing the screen were mere fantasy.
Cue The Incredible Hulk.
Opening up a month later, The Incredible Hulk gave us the first taste of this shared universe as Tony Stark had a moment with General Thaddeus Ross about putting a team together. It was something at the time that seemed so simple, but extraordinary you wonder if we possibly take all of this for granted these days.
With Phase Three coming to a close with Avengers: Infinity War, it's anybody's guess at this point what could be featured in the line-up for Phase Four, but today we should celebrate the moment when it all started.
"You think you're the only superhero in the world? Mr. Stark, you've become part of a bigger universe. You just don't know it yet."