Every type of movie has its milestone moments. For superheroes, there are three that immediately come to mind: Superman: The Movie in 1978, Tim Burton's Batman in 1989, and the one-two punch of The Dark Knight and Iron Man in 2008. And, probably, the biggest deal out of all of them was Iron Man, the success of which launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe and paved the way for a total of 16 films, the latest of which, Spider-Man: Homecoming, will be released on July 7th, will plenty of others on the horizon.
Iron Man, of course, led the way for characters like the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Doctor Strange, Black Panther and on and on. As to why they've been so successful, Marvel's creative guiding force, Kevin Feige, offered to comingsoon.net, "If I traveled back in time and told myself where we were headed, he'd probably spin out and collapse in a heap of anxiety. I think that part of the reason we succeeded is because we have been able to stick to our guns and stick to our vision and not Monday morning quarterback based on what others are doing. Or based on think pieces about the state of the industry. We started out being very excited that we were finally able to be the people creatively responsible for a Marvel film ourselves and do them in the way that our instincts sort of called for us to do them."
MORE: 'Deadpool 2' Director David Leitch Previews A World With No Rules (Exclusive)
And, as to the fact that all of this has resulted in a shared movie universe (becoming the envy of just about every other studio that would love nothing more than to duplicate Marvel's success), as far back as 2008, Feige saw the potential, as he related to Newsarama: "What's fun in having all these characters under one roof for the first time—the Marvel roof—is that just like in the comics, yes, we can suggest that they inhabit the same universe. Which is not to say that they'll just be walking by each other's windows and waving for no reason, but it is to say that while enjoying the solo experience of an Iron Man film, a Hulk film, a Thor film, a Cap film, or whatever, those who want to see a deeper connection or deeper meaning will be able to find that."
That connection can very easily be followed over the past near-decade. Now, FHM presents a behind-the-scenes guide to all 16 of those films, as well as a look at what's to come.
MORE: Want To Know What It's Like To Be Spider-Man? 'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Star Tom Holland Tells Us
MORE: Check Out All Of FHM's Superhero Coverage
Right from the start, once Marvel started producing their own films they got it right. Take a second-tier character (at the time, Iron Man was hardly as well known as Spider-Man or the X-Men's Wolverine), cast a great actor in the role who brings instant credibility and offer up a first class production. Robert Downey, Jr. brought that credibility, aided by Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, Terence Howard and (briefly) Samuel L. Jackson. Great origin story for what continues to be one of Marvel's most popular movie superheroes.
Reflects Downey, "I have always been drawn to Iron Man because he had amazing ingenuity and intelligence. Superheroes are great, but superheroes who manufacture weapons and then build a suit of armor that they wear and can fly around in makes for the ultimate 'nerdgasm.' He's someone who's conflicted for the right reasons, and who doesn't recognize his potential until he starts to live in accordance with a moral code; it's a great time-honored theme."