To celebrate the end of the 2010s,

Entertainment Weekly’s Must List is looking back at the best pop culture that changed other pop culture — through movies, TV, music, gaming, and more (catch up on our list so far). Here, we kick things off with the biggest story in film: the creation and culmination of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, all leading up to the inevitable, inimitable climax known simply as… The Snap.

The biggest film franchise of all time started with a box of scraps. Just as Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark cobbled together a supersuit in 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Studios built an empire from a B-list band of characters. When the comics publisher launched its film studio over a decade ago, its starriest heroes — Spider-Man, X-Men, the Fantastic Four — were licensed to other companies. Now the 23-film Marvel Cinematic Universe has grown from underdog to box office behemoth, turning characters like Groot and Thor into household names and shaping Hollywood’s future (while raking in more than $22 billion worldwide). “After the first Avengers movie worked, I realized there was a chance at something that’s never done before,” Captain America, alias Chris Evans, tells EW. “And quite possibly might never be done again.”

In 2008, Marvel Studios’ first goal was simply to get Iron Man off the ground and into theaters — but studio president Kevin Feige had a more ambitious vision: a web of films set in the same universe, with characters moving between movies, and stories intersecting into one massive narrative. “The dream was always that the sky’s the limit,” explains Feige. “We thought, wouldn’t it be amazing to re-create these splash pages from the comics, where you can barely count how many characters there are because the universe is that big and rich, and bring them all together for an event the size of an ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ story line?” Through post-credits scenes (that have since become expected of a blockbuster), the MCU laid the groundwork for these crossovers, teasing movies months or even years down the line.

And then, the Snap happened. In 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War, a purple sociopath named Thanos (himself first introduced in a 2012 Avengers post-credits scene) decimated everything Marvel built, reducing half the franchise to literal dust. It was the biggest cliffhanger since “Who Shot J.R.?” and it showed Marvel wasn’t afraid to blindside audiences or upend expectations about superhero storytelling.

But then again, the MCU has always tried to Hulk-smash conventions. New points of view from directors like Ryan Coogler, Taika Waititi, and James Gunn helped Marvel films to grow beyond the label of “superhero movies” and flourish within other genres, from ’70s-inspired conspiracy thrillers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) to candy-colored buddy comedies (Thor: Ragnarok). “They changed the way I viewed the scope of collaboration,” says Evans. “The amount of creative minds from different mediums all coming together to achieve one goal is truly staggering.”

Superhero films are almost as old as Hollywood itself, but what helps set Marvel’s reign apart is its diverse — and frequently flawed — stable of heroes. A character like Superman has barely changed on screen throughout the decades, but an MCU hero is all about change, and the franchise’s many films have allowed characters like Cap or Black Widow to grow at a pace usually reserved for a multi-season TV show. And although the MCU’s early roster was overwhelmingly white and male, the studio has since course-corrected and led the charge in depicting distinct heroes from different backgrounds. “When a movie works, you find yourself getting wrapped up in the protagonist’s story, whether that protagonist shares your gender or your skin tone,” Feige says.

Feige adds that one of the strengths in building a large, interconnected universe is the ability to learn from mistakes and readjust when needed. One early piece of criticism he says stuck with him was that the MCU’s villains weren’t always as memorable or complicated as their heroic adversaries, especially in earlier films. “I think Loki would always stand apart from that, and that was the high bar,” Feige says. “But certainly some of that criticism led to us saying, ‘Okay, by the time we get to Thanos, he’s got to deliver. He’s got to deliver in the first five minutes and let people who why we’ve been teasing him for so many years.'”

Though many original Avengers hung up their suits after Avengers: Endgame, the MCU is far from finished. “I hope we can continue to do the unexpected and surprise people over the next 10 years,” Feige says. So far, at least nine more films and eight Disney+ TV shows have been announced, focusing on both familiar faces and new heroes… ones who, hopefully, won’t have to deal with any cataclysmic finger snaps this time.

Spider-Man swings again: Marvel, Sony reach deal on next Tom Holland film

Here are all Marvel’s upcoming Phase 4 movies and TV shows (and beyond)

All the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, ranked

12 31 19
Load more comments
  1. xajosir
    xajosir My classmate's ex-wife makes $81 hourly on the laptop. She has been laid off for six months but last month her pay check was $20297 just working on the laptop for a few hours. check out this site,,,,,,
  2. jojarix1968
    jojarix I am making a good pay from home 1900 Buckets/week, that is brilliant, beneath a year agone i used to be unemployed amid a monstrous economy. I pass on God consistently i used to be invested these bearings, and at present, I should pay it forward and impart it to everyone, Here is I started to............
  3. yitabo6003
    yitabo6003 Making money online more than $15k just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info on this page.HeRe—————————→>
  4. shakilahmed00
    Shakil Ahmed anyone all know todays world is practically nothing without social media. you can do everything utilizing this social media. the best social media is fb, twitter, instagram, youtube etc . because of this type of social media you can improve your internet business fully. also you you can use business networking. this will also help you to grow your online business. you can create a facebook business site and make it many many audience along with than they will interest your business plus your business will grow world wide. you additionally use twitter, instagram just similar to same facebook. also you can help make video in youtube for increase your business. you know that youtube is the better platform for grow anything throughout the world.for more information please visit our site:
  5. PeaceIndiaLtd
    Peace India Limited Buy Envelopes online in Peace India

to add a comment...


Press esc to close.
Press esc to close.

Connecting to your webcam.

You may be prompted by your browser for permission.