It’s hard to believe, but the first movie in Marvel’s Phase One came out seven years ago. For all of those people who just felt old, I apologize, but it’s the truth. Iron Man released in the spring of 2008 and started what can only be described as a cultural revolution. An entire generation grew up with Marvel Movies being a constant in their lives, and it saturates every aspect of modern media.

It’s not an overstatement to say that the franchise changed how the world views movies. Though it feels commonplace now, the concept of an entire universe that jumps across all forms of media is incredibly outlandish, and nearly unprecedented considering the history of movies up to this point. The decision for Disney, or really any company, to undertake it is, to put in vulgar terms, ballsy as hell. The odds of it all falling apart were absurdly high, and yet they still went ahead with it.

So, why did it work? Why did such a risky plan not only succeed, but thrive? Well in this writer’s opinion, there were a few major factors. The first being that they chose the right franchise to do this to. The comic book fans of as far back as the 60’s are now adults and make up a good chunk of the movie-going public. And for these people the Marvel Movies are not just a nostalgic product, it’s their childhood obsessions given form. Marketing to them was as simple as making them know that the movies exist.

Another is, oddly enough, its social aspect. For better or for worse going to watch a movie or television show as a group replaced the old methods of hanging out. People just don’t go bowling or skating anymore really. And because of this among social circles it almost a taboo to not be up to date on the latest stuff. A great example of this outside of Marvel is HBO’s Game of Thrones. Fans are hounded for not seeing the latest episode, and often excluded from conversations to prevent spoilers. I speak of this from personal experience.

Finally, and I can’t overstate this enough, the movies are just excellent. Top quality, well-acted, and well-written stories with snappy dialogue and gorgeous camera work. It doesn’t use its premise as a gimmick, and seeks to deliver a top quality product that has wide appeal. It does all the right things. And in the end I don’t know where it will go from here, but I’m excited to see.