Ten years ago, the very first chapter was launched in what has become one of the biggest stories in the history of cinema. On May 2nd 2008, Iron Man was released to an eagerly waiting world and the Marvel Universe started to take shape. The film was successful, grossing $585.2 million worldwide and taking $98.6 million in its first weekend. But no one could ever have predicted that a decade later it would lead to the release of the most successful superhero film of all time, Avengers: Infinity War.

If the figures for Iron Man were good, they almost defy belief for the latest of the Marvel movies. On its opening weekend in the US it took $257,698,183 and to date it has earned a jaw-dropping $1.7 billion, some way short of the most successful film ever, Avatar, which has earned over $2.8 billion –  but there’s still plenty of time to catch up.

In fact, Avengers: Infinity War may well hold the record for the number of records it’s broken already including the already mentioned opening weekend for a superhero movie, as well as the best Saturday and Sunday figures. Plus, the studio knew it was going to do well but even they underestimated just how well, putting their projected figure at $250 million.

The story so far

The history to date of the movies has been grouped into three key chapters. The very first ran from Iron Man in 2008 through until 2012 with the release of Marvel’s The Avengers. 2013 saw the start of the second chapter with Iron Man 3 and ran through to 2015’s Ant-Man. We’re currently in Phase 3 which is planned to conclude in 2019 with the as-yet-untitled Avengers sequel (although Zoe Saldana, in an unguarded moment, did suggest that the word “Gauntlet” may feature in its name).

The mastermind of the whole operation, Kevin Feige – President of Marvel Studios, has also released certain amounts of information about what may lie ahead in the future while staying characteristically vague on the actual detail. However, there are two more films that are slated for release before we discover what happens in the next phase of The Avengers story after the cliffhanger ending of Infinity War.

Here come Ant-Man and Captain Marvel!

The first is Ant-Man and the Wasp, which comes out in July and starring Paul Rudd who was noticeably absent from the action in the latest Avengers movie. In terms of the chronology of the Marvel Universe, rumour has it that this film is set between Civil War and Infinity War, but don’t quote us on this because secrecy, as usual, is tight. What we do know is that Evangeline Lilly will be donning the Wasp suit and joining the Ant-Man on a new mission for Hank Pym played, once again, by Michael Douglas. What it will entail, we’ll just have to wait and see.

The second film, due for release in March 2019, is the much-awaited Captain Marvel movie. It stars Brie Larson as Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel and also confirms the rumours that Jude Law will have a role playing a mentor with the name Mar-Vell. The action is due to be set firmly in the 1990s and directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck are said to be pulling out all of their 90s action movies references to create yet another blockbuster.

All the noise around Avengers: Infinity War has also done something to overshadow another big sequel released recently, Deadpool 2. With Ryan Reynolds reprising the role, joined by James Brolin and Julian Dennison from Hunt for the Wilderpeople, reviews have been mixed. Many feel that in ramping up the action and bringing in David Leitch to direct it’s been made noisier and more action-packed that its predecessor but not necessarily better.

The Panther returns?

One Marvel film that we’ll almost certainly see return is Black Panther. Widely praised for everything from the captivating plot to the almost exclusively African-American cast, the studio must have very high hopes for the future of this particular franchise.

One final big question that is left hanging after Avengers: Infinity War is whether we’ll be seeing any more of the actors whose contracts ran out with the completion of the film. One key example is Chris Hemsworth who has hinted that we may not have seen the last of him as Thor.

The Marvel games universe

Of course, in what sometimes feels like a drive for world domination, the studio is very active in many other areas too. On TV there’s Marvel’s Agents of Shield and there are frequent rumours the series are in development with online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Naturally, the whole process has also gone full circle with more and more comics being produced whose action is firmly set in the movie universe and which are intended to complement the films.

Another field in which the studio has been very active has been in licensing online slots, this catches the eye of an older audience, and helps to grow the franchise further. The slots feature characters from Iron Man to The Fantastic Four. Slots have been popular for a long time now, no doubt due to the ability of online slot sites to cater for every niche imaginable. Marvel have clearly recognised the demand for slots and embraced the market. And with such a large audience keen to experience the world of Marvel in as many ways as they possibly can, these fun and potentially money-winning games are some of the most popular with fans of the movies.

Video games are another big area for the studio, so it’s no surprise that a major one is due for release in the summer. Rumour has it that it will be an Avengers and Spider-Man crossover but until it’s officially launched we’ll just have to go on speculating.

So it certainly looks like there are many more chapters ahead, in very many fields, for Marvel and the emerging technology of Virtual Reality could herald the next leap forward. So before long we might not just be spectators on the Marvel universe, we could even find that we’re part of it ourselves.