As with all science, there is still much we do not know and what we do know is always changing and adapting to new information, but our picture of the early universe is amazing. In the very beginning, some sort of gigantic expansion that traveled faster than the speed of light created our universe, the Big Bang. What was left was a mass of superheated gas and galactic dust. Once the universe cooled some is when things really start to get going.
One idea is that in the beginning there were super massive structures that formed. These structures would have been light years across, eventually seeding the way for galaxies once these super massive structures exploded. I often wonder if perhaps those same structures were what also created the super massive black holes that can be found at the center of almost every galaxy. It has been thought that super massive black holes are various smaller black holes that combined during the time when stars were much more massive, but not as massive as the super massive structures, and exploding in supernova constantly. This created many smaller black holes that are believed to have combined together to make super massive black holes. Recently, some have thought that super massive black holes may actually be related to those super massive structures.
You can even see the earliest galaxies in the Hubble deep field picture that look like giant structures. I can not help but wonder if perhaps those are actually just massive structures and not galaxies. One lies over 13 billion light years away, at the very beginning of when the universe was cool enough to start creating stars, planets, and the other amazing structures in our universe. Because they are so far away, our current technology can only see them as blobs of light, making it impossible to see more than the most basic form.
I often think that those super massive structures are actually the seeds of the galaxies. Once they burn out, they explode all that matter outward, leaving a super massive black hole at the center, and over time all that exploded gas and dust came together to make stars and planets. That is how I believe the early universe may have looked.