Every actor from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has come together for a class photo commemorating its 10-year anniversary.
Considering the unprecedented enormity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the ambitious shared universe of films from the Disney-owned Marvel Studios, it’s bizarre to think back to the comparatively quaint movie endeavor with which it launched, 2008’s original Iron Man. Yet, in 2018, rounding the 10-year anniversary of that fateful film launch, the man who starred in the original unlikely hit, Robert Downey Jr., stands proudly in the center of a “class photo,” with a 79-person assemblage of actors who have appeared in the MCU.
Just about every player who has ever been involved in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as its behind-the-scenes visionary in Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige, has assembled for what is being dubbed a Class Photo, marking the 10-year mark of the industry-transforming film continuity’s launch with Iron Man. That movie made its armored, palladium-powered arrival on May 2, 2008; a time in the pop culture parlance when mentioning Apple’s iPhone only referred to its first-generation release, and comic book movies were sporadic entities unto themselves. Yet, Iron Man, dubiously brandishing a then-fallen star in Downey, made an impressive, pathos-packed arrival, boldly calling its shot in a precedence-setting post-credits scene in which Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury debuted with a fateful entreaty for the “Avenger Initiative,” hinting of a larger cinematic world.
Of course, the celebratory atmosphere of the photo shoot is also complemented with the idea of an impending bittersweet moment that starts in May with Avengers: Infinity War, which teams the film continuity’s major players against the perennially teased cosmic threat of the Mad Titan, Thanos. That film, while representing a surreal fan-demanded mega-event, will be the first part of a two-film event (concluding with an untiled fourth Avengers film in 2019,) that will essentially turn a crucial page in the MCU, presumably allowing its veteran headliners – notably Downey – to finally pass the baton to the newer players, notably the present Brie Larson, who, in March 2019, will headline the MCU’s first female-headed hero film, Captain Marvel.
Yet, there’s also potential for grander change afoot, with the recent news of Disney’s impending purchase of 21st Century Fox, a major corporate acquisition. While the deal is likely to become the fixation of the Federal Trade Commission, it could very well yield the fan-friendly occurrence of uniting Marvel Comics’ intellectual-property-separated lineup – notably including Fox-owned properties in the X-Men movies and Fantastic Four – into a grandiose juggernaut of a movie universe under the MCU tentpole. Indeed, as surreal as this 10-year anniversary Class Photo appears, it’s quite possible that a prospective 20-year anniversary photo will require an outdoor shoot, due to sheer volume of personnel.
Avengers: Infinity War will arrive on May 4, showcasing a different kind of reunion in a colossal battle to prevent Thanos from completing his omnipotence-granting hand accessory, the Infinity Gauntlet.