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The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with Iron Man in May 2008. What followed were origin stories for the characters of Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. These films were loosely woven together with end-credit scenes and references to the other character (namely, Nick Fury and SHIELD). But then came The Avengers on May 4, 2012.

This movie brought together the aforementioned four heroes, along with two others, Hawkeye (who had an uncredited cameo in Thor) and Black Widow, the latter of whom had a supporting role in 2010’s Iron Man 2. It was a superhero team-up the likes of which had never been previously attempted. And it defied all odds.

It was the first Marvel movie to break $1 billion

In The Avengers, the characters, all of whom are used to working by themselves, come together in order to take down an intergalactic enemy (and Loki). It is the first time Fury’s Avenger Initiative is truly put into play, and though there are casualties, the six heroes succeed in their mission.

The film was a “make-or-break” venture for Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios. A lot of money was at stake, and they got the actors to sign very large contracts for numerous appearances in order to make it worth their while and establish an ongoing universe. Obviously, it paid off, and when The Avengers crossed that $1 billion mark, the studio was all in.

‘Avengers: Endgame’ paid tribute to ‘The Avengers’

Thus began the phases and the launch of what is now known as the Infinity Saga. What was once just a handful of movies is now a 22-film empire. Much of what came before was wrapped up with Avengers: Endgame. A year out from what is currently the highest-grossing film of all time, the directors, the Russo Brothers, mark the impact of The Avengers.

“Rebuilding a set from a pre-existing movie is pretty d*mn cool. Also getting to hang out with the same, amazing cast year after year is also pretty d*mn cool,” they wrote on their shared Twitter account. While the events of a few past films were noted in Endgame, the most time seems to have gone into the recreation of the Battle of New York from The Avengers.

Fans reminisce, say it ‘laid the groundwork’ for team-up films

In honor of its eighth anniversary, Marvel fans took to social media to share what made the film so important to them. While some noted the many iconic scenes from The Avengers that went on to impact the MCU and others lamented particular costumes or scenes they feel don’t hold up, one Twitter user summed it up perfectly.

“Without the success of that movie, we wouldn’t have been where we are now. [It] laid the groundwork of how to make ensemble movies work giving each character considerable screentime & reason to stay relevant to the overall plot,” wrote Shubhajit. “Everyone matters in ensemble movies, everyone.”

The Original 6 Avengers reunited

Endgame marked the end of the journey for (most of) the six original heroes, played by Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner. So it was appropriate that they were the ones honored ahead of The Avengers anniversary.

At the 2020 Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards, which was held virtually, these actors accepted the award for Favorite Movie for Endgame. In their joint speech, they pushed the message that we are all “stronger together” and will get through this difficult time. After all, isn’t that the message of the Avengers films?