It’s hard to imagine, but seven years ago Marvel Studios’ cinematic universe was far from a sure bet. Iron Man was a gamble, but hoping that characters connected to the outlandish concepts of Thor or the flag-wearing Captain America was one step further into the unknown. Connecting all these stories in one blockbuster, The Avengers, seemed like a gargantuan and foolhardy task, even with the ensemble-wrangling Joss Whedon at the helm.
Not only did it pull it off in a satisfying way, breaking box office records and emboldening the studio to extend their experiment into a dozen more productions, but it managed to pull off the impossible and give each character a reason to be involved. Part of this comes from the intuitive decision to centre a movie of disparate franchises coming together about disparate people struggling to come together. But not everything survived intact.