The Road to ‘Endgame’ Part 4: Looking Back at When ‘The Avengers’ Raised the Bar for Blockbusters Forever

In the lead-up to the highly anticipated conclusion to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s epic “Infinity Saga”: Avengers: Endgame, we’re taking a look back at the decade-long road it took to get to this point. We’ve talked a lot about “game changing” movies already, but today’s film took it to a whole new level. Yes, it’s time to take a look back at the MCU’s first crossover event,The Avengers.

The lead-up and release of this film has some strong parallels with last year’s Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming Avengers: Endgame. Each has been considered to be the most ambitious undertaking for a crossover event in film history, after all. But there was something so pure, innocent, and almost magical about the 2012 Avengers era that hasn’t been recaptured since and possibly never will. In recent years fans have started getting more demanding with their sky-high expectations and there’s also been more of a sense of fear; nothing severe, of course, but there’s a feeling of uneasiness that our favorite characters may not make it out of the next movie alive. But back in 2012, people were simply disbelief that the movie was even happening, that Marvel Studios had actually taken the time and effort to make five movies to build up to this event.

Watching The Avengers now, seven years after its release, raises some odd feelings. It brings back the memories of seeing it back when it came out and feeling like the was the biggest thing that could and did happen in cinema, but at the same time feels so much simpler, even smaller, than what we’re used to seeing in the more recent MCU installments. We’ve become so used to a large scale – even in most of the solo films – and the ongoing story arc playing a role that makes each of them seem bigger. But when this movie came out, it was the culmination of the overall story arc at the time – that of the team assembling for the first time – a much more basic one than we’ve become accustomed to.

Still, the film does hold up quite well. It doesn’t go as deep into characters or relationships as the later ensemble films, but it’s just so much fun and has some iconic shots, jokes, and scenes that make it a moment in both comic book and movie history that will simply never be recreated. (That 360 degree shot is still amazing!) Everything just felt so fresh and exciting. No other studio had even really attempted to do something this before, but after the success of the film, many have certainly tried to do so since.

What made The Avengers such a special phenomenon was that it seemed as if everyone – regardless of age – was seeing the film through childlike eyes. There was just such a sense of excitement in the air before and during the film. But it was a certain sentiment held by many after the film that was perhaps the most magical and childlike thing at all: the sense that after seeing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes come to life onscreen, anything was possible.

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