The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a financial hit since its first installment, Iron Man, introducing the world to the “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” that is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr). Marvel has come a long way since Phase 1, producing some outstanding MCU box office success over the years.
The MCU’s ability to build out their universe and add lovable characters is part of why it has gone on to become the most successful film franchise of all time, while also building out a television universe on Disney+. Let’s dive in and take a look at the top 10 MCU box office performances in the franchise’s storied history.
10. ‘Captain Marvel’
Worldwide box office: $1,131,416,446
“Space invasion, big car chase… truth be told, I was ready to hang it up. ‘Till I met you today.” – Nick Fury
Brie Larson makes her Marvel debut in Captain Marvel, starring as the titular hero Carol Danvers. There was unbelievable anticipation for many Marvel comics fans to finally see their favourite superhero on the big screen. Captain Marvel was a highly anticipated film in the build up to Avengers: Endgame, as many knew her story and introduction were going to be pivotal to the plot.
Unfortunately, Captain Marvel had an overwhelmingly negative reception due to sexist review bombing and release timing. Many worried it was being released too close to Avengers: Endgame, but Captain Marvels’ box office success proved otherwise. Audiences’ willingness and excitement to see it helped it land in the top 10 MCU box office films.
9. ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’
Worldwide box office: $1,131,927,996
“It’s easy to fool people when they’re already fooling themselves.” – Mysterio
The second installment in Tom Holland‘s Spider-Man trilogy, Spider-Man: Far From Home puts an end to the beloved Infinity Saga and showcases Tom Holland as he deals with his guilt and sadness following Tony’s death in Endgame. Anticipation for this movie in the wake of Avengers: Endgame cannot be understated, as fans were clamoring for any and all Avengers content.
Jake Gyllenhaal makes his MCU debut as Mysterio and delivers a well-rounded performance. Set outside of America and into Europe, Spider-Man: Far From Home was a breath of fresh air, and the last MCU film to hit theaters before the COVID-19 pandemic.
8. ‘Captain America: Civil War’
Worldwide box office: $1,155,046,416
“He’s my friend” – Captain America
“So was I” – Iron Man
Captain America: Civil War lands at number eight in the overall MCU box office rankings and is the highest-grossing film in the Captain America trilogy. With some of the MCU’s most iconic scenes, Captain America: Civil War follows the Avengers as they split after political issues cause controversy among the group.
The tarnashing relationship between Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) hit even harder after watching their friendship develop for years in the MCU, and this alone brought in huge box office numbers. With high reviews from critics and fans across the world, Captain America: Civil War was a must-watch during its theatrical run in 2016.
7. ‘Iron Man 3’
Worldwide box office: $1,215,577,205
“You can take away my house, all my tricks and toys, but one thing you can’t take away? I am Iron Man.” – Tony Stark
Robert Downey Jr. is the face of the MCU, the first Avenger to recieve a feature film, and one who has captured the hearts of millions of fans around the world. Iron Man 3, the final instalment into the Iron Man trilogy became the second MCU film to hit $1 billion at the box office, and for good reason.
Although Iron Man 3 is arguably the weakest of the trilogy due to the underwhelming narrative and sometimes poor visuals, its box office success single-handedly proves Robert Downey Jr.’s impact on Marvel. At that time, there was also a burning desire amongst the general public for any and all superhero films, which was another contributing factor.
6. ‘Black Panther’
Worldwide box office: $1,349,926,083
“Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We can not. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this Earth, should treat each other.” – T’Challa
Black Panther showcases the beauty and culture of Wakanda perfectly. Box office success was no surprise due to the cultural impact as the first Black-led superhero film to ever hit theaters, bringing a refreshing and different side to the comic book movie scene. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordon, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira, Black Panther deserves every bit of praise for its astonishing visuals and representation. Chadwick Boseman will forever be missed.
5. ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’
Worldwide box office: $1,405,018,048
“You get hurt, hurt ’em back. You get killed… walk it off.” – Steve Rogers
The second Avengers installment in the franchise, with the main antagonist Ultron (James Spader), is regarded as the least favourite of the four Avengers movies. Many fans criticized this film due to certain romances that lack any discernible chemistry and its failure to deliver a compelling rendition of Ultron. However Age Of Ultron did exceptionally well at box office, coming in with the 14th highest grossing film of all time due to the new found love and introduction of the beloved Vision (Paul Bettany), Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), and excitement to see The Avengers work together as a team.
4. ‘The Avengers’
Worldwide box office: $1,520,538,536
“Superheroes? In New York? Give me a break!” – Stan Lee
The first MCU film featuring the original six: Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Hulk, and Hawkeye marks the beginning of The Avengers franchise. The Avengers, even years after the fact, is still adored by fans across the world. For many people, this is where their love for the MCU began.
The Avengers debut, following their tease from Nick Fury in Iron Man, did not dissapoint. Filled with some incredible humor, fight scenes, and an introduction to the beloved character Maria Hill, there is no denying the mark The Avengers left in cinema history. Upon its release, The Avengers was the highest grossing Marvel film at the time, and although it has now been surpased, the love for it is never ending.
3. ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’
Worldwide box office: $1,921,847,111
“You have a gift. You have power. And with great power, there must also come great responsibility.” – May Parker
The iconic Spider-Man film includes all three Peter Parkers; Toby Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland. In the months leading up to Spider-Man: No Way Home, there were many theories surrounding the plot and cast, which drove anticipation to new highs for an MCU movie. With the return of fan favorites, the film broke post-pandemic box office records and was incredibly profitable for Marvel Studios. No Way Home‘s success sets up many future films for Tom Holland’s Spider-Man while also opening the door for more multiverse stories.
2. ‘Avengers: Infinity War’
Worldwide box office: $2,052,415,039
“I’m sorry, Earth is closed today. You better pack it up and get out of here.” – Tony Stark
Ending with one of the biggest cliffhangers in movie history, Avengers: Infinity War broke the hearts of millions as the Avengers lose the battle against Thanos for the first time. With half the universe turned to dust, all seemed lost for our beloved heroes heading into the final Avengers film. Infinity War was pure devastation, as fans were forced to watch the characters they’d spent years growing close with fade away.
This highly anticipated action-packed film was the first MCU movie to hit the $2 billion mark at the box office. Infinity War also broke multiple records on its release due to unimaginable praise from fans for the astounding narrative, breathtaking visuals, and character developments, which created incredible word of mouth and box office longevity. Infinity War became only the fourth film to ever hit $2 billion at box office worldwide, marking a huge win for Marvel Studios.
1. ‘Avengers: Endgame’
Worldwide box office: $2,799,439,100
“I said we’d lose. You said, ‘we’ll do that together too.’ Guess what, Cap? We lost, and you weren’t there” – Tony Stark
The number one spot in the MCU box office ranking is Avengers: Endgame, the (true) conclusion of Marvel Studios’ Infinity Saga, and one that everybody was anticipating from the first mention of Thanos (Josh Brolin) in Avengers.
The success of Avengers: Endgame was no surprise following the previous hits with Infinity War and Captain Marvel. Endgame is the culmination of 10+ years of storytelling, the end of the line for so many characters, and the connection many fans had with the franchise. There is no more fitting chapter to conclude the Infinity Saga, and it broke countless records at the box office en route to becoming the second highest-grossing film worldwide of all time, behind only Avatar.
MCU box office has racked up an insane amount of success
With the box office failure of recent MCU projects such as Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, there is uncertainty surrounding upcoming projects in Phase 5. Many fans were relieved with the most recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3 gaining overwhelming praise from fans and critics across the world and reviving hope in audiences.
The upcoming MCU film The Marvels hits theaters November 10, and fans around the world are clamoring to see the three superstars team up and take on a new villain. No Way Home proved high level box office success is still possible in a post-pandemic world, but there will likely never be another phenomenon like Avengers: Endgame and Infinity War.
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