About the time The Avengers was set to release, I had just moved to Springfield, Missouri. Springfield had quite a few theaters, but they also had an IMAX. I knew that’s where I would be going to see the first showing of the movie I had been hyping up to my friends and co-workers for months. I’ve been to countless Thursday night showings, but they’ll always be something different about May 3rd, 2012. The line for the movie wrapped all the way to the start of the parking lot outside. There were people cosplaying as different characters and walking around taking pictures with people. From the moment the movie started and we got to see Loki take the Tesseract at the S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, I was completely invested and couldn’t keep my eyes off the screen.
Avengers made movie history as it coalesced all the previous standalone stories which all had loose common threads into one narrative. The character moments like Black Widow trying to take in Bruce Banner as well as Iron Man and Captain America going back and forth with each other felt like a universe that had taken time and effort to create. The characters felt as if they were already existing side by side in this universe before this installment in the MCU. Even Agent Coulson’s death, a character made for the MCU and peppered throughout the films, felt meaningful. The writing frame Coulson as a character we had all read and cared about for decades.
Joss Whedon was tasked with orchestrating the biggest movie of our time, and masterfully pulled it off. All of the characters had important story arcs that not only affected this film but would have decisions that would still echo the MCU years later. Whedon knew he had to incorporate payoffs from the past, create something that could stand by itself, and also lay many seeds for the future of the franchise. He did so by having The Avengers be about putting differences aside and protecting people who weren’t gifted as they were. I’ll never forget leaning forward in my seat for the entire battle of New York watching something that until then had only been thoughts from my childhood.
The Avengers smashed every expectation I had of what to expect and is still my favorite movie of all time. Of course, with any Marvel movie it was expected to see a post-credits scene or two at the end, and while the Avengers eating Shawarma is one of my favorite unimportant post-credits scenes to come out of the MCU, the Thanos post-credits scene really brought the house down. Seeing Thanos turn around and smile when hearing the Chitauri say that to go after the Avengers would be to court death is a moment that has echoed through the MCU since and will finally pay off six years later.
Phase One of the MCU was, and still in many ways, is something that the rest of Hollywood hasn’t been able to mimic successfully. It combines singular stories with an overarching narrative that only TV has been able to do well. It dared to take B-list characters from Marvel and use the IP’s that it owned to use as its cornerstones for a universe that was built to be long-term and ever-changing. While Phase One of the MCU was an unbelievable beginning to the start of my favorite piece of pop culture, it was just getting started, and I cannot wait to nerd out over how Phase Two hit an imperfect, but important stride in maintaining Marvel’s status as the new powerhouse of Hollywood.