Not only did Marvel create their cinematic empire within a decade, but they also did it without most of their signature characters.
In case you didn't know, the "X-Men," "Fantastic Four," and original "Spider-Man" movie franchises from the early and mid-2000s were created by different movie studios and do not exist in the MCU, because Marvel sold the rights to those characters in order to build one of their own.
Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor were not the most recognizable names, but somehow Marvel made them box-office attractions through great casting and good storytelling. With the subtle teases at an "Avengers" movie, a small comic book following grew by the numbers as casual movie fans became interested. Culminating in the very first "Avengers" movie in May of 2012 which exploded at the box-office and with that, a pop culture sensation was born. But not only did Marvel delivered on their big superhero crossover, they planted more seeds for an even bigger story that led to "Infinity War" and "Endgame."
This 11 year plan all started with a superhero more known as a Black Sabbath song than a comic book hero, starring an actor who was trying to make a comeback in his career after dealing with plenty of personal issues. Robert Downey Jr. wasn't the box-office draw he became in 2008, and Iron Man wasn't the iconic superhero he became before the movie, but it worked, and it worked gloriously.
Fast forward to 2019 with the incredible finale of "Endgame" and you have one of the greatest achievements in the history of cinema and storytelling for that matter.
The closest movie franchise I can compare what Marvel has accomplished was the "Harry Potter" film franchise that spawned 8 movies based off of seven books in the course of a decade.
What was remarkable about "Harry Potter's" accomplishment was telling a seven-year-long story in ten years and having the main cast of that franchise develop from in-experienced child actors into competent and talented young adults.
What makes Marvel's "Avenger's" initiative arguably more impressive was that there was no definitive playbook in telling their story as compared to Potter's. Potter has his seven books that are treated like "The Bible." Marvel had decades of story-lines and reboots of their characters.
It's also remarkable how DC, Marvel's greatest rival, attempted to pull off the same formula as them with their own cinematic universe and failed miserably, with only "Wonder Woman" displaying any kind of positive success. It goes to show just how difficult and patient Marvel was with their formula.
And who would've thought the highest grossing non-Avenger Marvel movie wouldn't be a solo "Iron Man," "Spider-Man," or "Captain America," but a lesser-known African superhero called the Black Panther. Its release in 2018 was not only one of the biggest superhero movies of all-time, but one of the biggest cinematic events of the 21st century. "Black Panther" was so big that it even broke through the Oscar ceiling and won three Academy Awards along with earning a Best Picture nomination. Who would've imagined a superhero only comic book fans had known would become a worldwide pop culture phenomenon?
Without going into the details, "Endgame" definitely was a finale for this era of the Marvel cinematic universe. More Marvel movies and tv shows will continue and be made, but will have a distinct feel to them compared to the pre-"Endgame" material. Like the comics they're based on, characters can always come back, franchises can be rebooted, and stories can go on and on.
Obviously, Disney and Marvel will continue to make material just for money's sake, but they will all be apart of a new Marvel cinematic saga as the first part has been wrapped up perfectly with "Endgame."
I can't wait to tell my kids and grandkids about how I lived through this incredible decade of great comic book movies and how they executed in creating their rich cinematic universe masterfully, because I think this universe is strong enough to continue for them to enjoy it too. We're going to look back on this first decade of greatness akin to the glory days of Camelot.