'Iron Man' Started the Marvel Cinematic Universe 10 Years Ago Today

It's only appropriate that the ten-year anniversary of Iron Man's release in theaters comes at a time when Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominating the box office, and breaking records by the day. What has sprung from those humble beginnings is a one-of-kind brand that has redefined the entertainment industry, and created the new blueprint for its future - and it's been one hell of a ride!

Take a look at the video above, for a sweet taste of some Iron Man nostalgia!

Way back on May 2nd, 2008, I had just begun a career as an entertainment journalist, and Iron Man represented one of the biggest points of curiosity for me and my industry. It was the first film that Marvel had creative control over, but it was a big risk, as well. Director Jon Favreau was one of the last names moviegoers would think of as the director of a major superhero film; star Robert Downey Jr. had fallen from grace as the whiz-kid actor of his generation, and was just barely getting back critical acclaim after Shane Black's 2005 indie hit, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; and Iron Man was ostensibly a B-level (if not C-level) superhero in the eyes of mainstream moviegoers. The film gained hype with an impressive Super Bowl 2008 commercial featuring the Iron Man armor in action, but when it debuted, it did so with only moderate fanfare.

...and then the buzz started building.

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Downey's charisma and charm as Tony Stark carried Iron Man to critical acclaim and mainstream audience crossover success, firmly imprinting the actor's performance onto the character - not just in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but in Marvel Comics, as well. That positive word-of-mouth helped the film hang in theaters for twenty-two weeks, with a domestic haul of $318M, and an additional $266M overseas ($585M total), suggesting even then that the Marvel brand had global potential.

It's funny now to remember how newspapers and online reviews almost had to spoil that first MCU post-credits scene in Iron Man, as audiences had no idea that they existed - or just how important they could be. I knew to stay (having been pre-warned), and when Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury showed up for that first time, name-dropping the Avengers Initiative, I was one of those fans who geeked-out hard in the theater: Iron Man had just launched an entire larger Marvel movie franchise, whether the world was ready for it, or not.

Ten years later, Iron Man still holds up as one of the top-rated MCU films of all time (according to Comicbook.com user rankings), with few signs of losing its high perch. It's fair at this point to call it a classic, and judging by responses to Avengers: infinity War, fans will be forever grateful for what Downey, Favreau, and co. accomplished.

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Happy anniversary Iron Man - and thank you for all you've done for us!

Avengers: Infinity War is now in theaters. Other upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe movies include Ant-Man and the Wasp on July 6th, Captain Marvel on March 8, 2019, the fourth Avengers movie on May 3, 2019, the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 5, 2019, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in 2020.