With the release of Ant-Man this past weekend we now have 12 movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is more than enough for me finally look at the top 10 highest grossing films from this series. Plus we can see how Ant-Man compares to the likes of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man or Guardians of the Galaxy.
Ant-Man had a solid debut, $58 million in the US, $114.4 million worldwide, which means it will probably end up somewhere around 10th or 9th on this top 10, $400 to $500 million worldwide. Considering it’s the first film with this hero and all the problems it faced getting here (changing director at the last minute), I think that’s a good start for Ant-Man.
But enough about Ant-Man, today we’ll be looking at the top 10 highest grossing movies from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, worldwide, unadjusted for ticket price inflation.
10. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – $370.6 million
The 5th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: The First Avenger opened to $65.1 million, eventually stopping at $176.7 million in the US. While only The Incredible Hulk made less worldwide, for something called “Captain America”, this did pretty good business internationally, $193.9 million, and you have to remember it’s still a year before The Avengers. I really liked Captain America: The First Avenger, it’s probably among my top 5 MCU films.
9. Thor (2011) – $449.3 million
The 4th MCU film and probably the hardest they had to do up to that point. I mean Thor is a god, introducing that character, grounding him in the world Marvel had created, it was no easy task. Fortunately they figured it out and made this fun thing, which opened to $65.7 million and grossed $181 million in the US. Internationally Thor made a bit more than Cap, $268.3 million.
8. Iron Man (2008) – $585.2 million
If Iron Man wasn’t the fantastic film and big Marvel hit that it was, the MCU as we know it would probably be very different. Some of the stories I heard from the set of Iron Man, it’s a miracle the movie turned out as great as it did. Thanks to awesome trailers, amazing marketing and a very charismatic lead in Robert Downey jr., Iron Man hit the ground running at the box office with a $98.6 million debut, the 9th biggest opening weekend at the time. Finished with $318.4 million domestically, the 18th highest grossing movie at that point. Little did we know that this was barely scratching the surface of what would eventually be possible at the box office for the MCU.
7. Iron Man 2 (2010) – $623.9 million
Definitely a misstep, but not enough to make it a bad movie, more like mediocre at best. Fortunately for Marvel the good will from Iron Man carried over to the sequel, helping it open to $128.1 million. Even so, Iron Man 2 finished just shy of its predecessor’s domestic total, $312.4 million compared to $318.4 million. I remember thinking at the time that this was maybe the ceiling for Marvel, and really for superheroes in general, at least the kind that weren’t Batman or Spider-Man. Wrong again.
6. Thor: The Dark World (2013) – $644.8 million
The 8th MCU film, the 2nd post-Avengers and coming right after Iron Man 3, which made over $1.2 billion worldwide, one could say expectations for Thor: The Dark World were quite high (understatement). Sadly it was more Iron Man 2 and while it did make considerably more than the first Thor, that was mostly thanks to international growth since in the US Thor: The Dark World only collected $25.4 million more than its predecessor ($206.4 million), somewhat disappointing after an $85.7 million start.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – $714.8 million
After Iron Man 2 and Thor: The Dark World, I guess The Winter Soldier broke the trend of disappointing sequels from Marvel. Cap’s second standalone adventure opened with $95 million, grossing $259.8 million in the US. Internationally Captain America: The Winter Soldier actually made more than Thor: The Dark World, $455 million versus $438.4 million. To think that just three years back the opposite was true. As far as the future goes, Captain America: Civil War could very well double the $714.8 million of The Winter Soldier, so I’m very much looking forward to that.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – $774.2 million
Just when I thought The Winter Soldier would be the top Marvel film of 2014, in comes Guardians of the Galaxy blasting songs from the 60’s and 70’s and blowing everyone away. $94.3 million opening weekend, $333.2 million overall in the US, the best multiplier (total divided by debut weekend) of any of the MCU films. It was an instant hit, finishing the year in 2nd domestically. Internationally Guardians of the Galaxy earned $441 million, $14 million less than The Winter Soldier. Understandable since this was the first of a new series. As long as it’s just as good, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 might make $1 billion or more worldwide.
3. Iron Man 3 (2013) – $1.21 billion
I really liked Iron Man 3, I mean it’s not as good as the first one, obviously, but it’s much better than the second. Sold as the final solo Iron Man film and being the first out the door post-Avengers, Iron Man 3 played like a pseudo Avengers 1.5, opening with $174.1 million, the 2nd best debut at the time. $409 million domestically was a lot of money, but internationally is where Iron Man 3 grew the most, coming close to The Avengers, $806.4 million versus $896.2 million.
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – $1.39 billion
I’m sure not everyone was as happy with Age of Ultron as I was, thing is the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. In my opinion The Avengers still has the single best action sequence in the entire MCU, which will be very hard to top (fingers crossed for Civil War). On the other hand Age of Ultron dishes out a whole lot more epic set piece moments, so taken as a whole it’s probably the most action-packed Marvel film yet. It was a lot of stupid fun, sometimes even more, and for me that was enough. $191.3 million opening weekend, very briefly the 2nd biggest start (until Jurassic World pushed it to 3rd), $456 million in the US and $937.5 million internationally, making it the biggest MCU film yet overseas. Avengers: Age of Ultron is still playing in Japan, so that number will continue to grow.
1. The Avengers (2012) – $1.52 billion
Not gonna lie, back in January I wasn’t expecting The Avengers to still hold this spot. I guess that’s how things ended up working and I’m ok with it. Up until a month ago The Avengers had the all-time opening weekend, $207.4 million, now it’s in the hands of Jurassic World ($208.8 million). In the US the superhero team-up nabbed $623.4 million, 3rd biggest ever (soon to be 4th, again because of Jurassic World), while $896.2 million internationally makes it 7th all-time on that chart. But The Avengers wasn’t only insanely popular, it’s also one of the best movies of 2012 and definitely one of the top 5 superhero films of all time. Depending on what day it is, I might even call The Avengers might favorite MCU flick.
The Incredible Hulk (2008) is absent from this top 10, in my opinion the weakest MCU film. The Incredible Hulk made $263.4 million worldwide on a $150 million budget, making this the only the only MCU flick to not double its production budget. That’s just a nicer way to say The Incredible Hulk is the only MCU box office flop. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie, sadly it’s not a very good one either.
Up next in the MCU are Captain America: Civil War (May 6th 2016), Doctor Strange (November 4th 2016), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5th 2017), Spider-Man: The New Avenger (July 28th 2017), Thor: Ragnarok (November 3rd 2017), Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 (May 4th 2018), Black Panther (July 6th 2018), Captain Marvel (November 2nd 2018), Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 (May 3rd 2019) and Inhumans (July 12th 2019). As long as the quality continues to be there, I will continue to watch them.
What is your favorite film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?