Marvel, as an entertainment company, has made a number of stumbles in its almost 80-year history. However, almost all facets of the company has been on a hot streak for the last decade.
Between a drive to diversify their comic lines, a multi-tier system of brand management, and of course the industry-changing Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel has been celebrating success after success. However, its greatest and most lucrative endeavor is the MCU. We've taken the liberty to rank out how each movie in the franchise stands in the company's financial hierarchy.
20. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This film was only tangentially connected to the MCU, and its star, Edward Norton, publicly split with the company soon afterwards. While most of the film was fairly forgettable, it did feature some impressive action sequences, and William Hurt's General 'Thunderbolt' Ross did make a return later in the series. It ended up grossing just over $263 million.
19. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Chris Evans's casting as Captain America has become one of the saving graces of the MCU. 'The First Avenger' not only introduced him to the scene, but brought the Marvel films back to their pulp-era roots, cleaning up with a healthy $370 million globally.
18. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
'Ant-Man and the Wasp' is still in theaters so its box office is still growing, but as of August 6 has made $427 million worldwide. Peyton Reed returned to direct, but this time threw in a heavier splash of drama and visual splendor.
17. Thor (2011)
A staple of the early Marvel films was their penchant for hiring creative and lucrative auteurs to direct their films. Enter acclaimed actor and director Kenneth Branagh, who gave 'Thor' an epic scale and audience-pleasing tone, scooping up an $449 million box office in the process.
16. Ant-Man (2015)
Clearly aiming for a more comedic tone, 'Ant-Man' was significantly hindered by production issues and behind the scenes drama. But the split between Marvel and director Edgar Wright and the swift instillation of his replacement Peyton Reed didn't stop the movie from grossing $519 million.
15. Iron Man (2008)
The film that started it all, 'Iron Man' set itself up to succeed. In a cinematic world where dark and gritty superheroes were starting to get boring, director Jon Favreau chose to make his film a spiritual successor to Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man' films. His entertaining and colorful vision proved that such a style was lucrative with a $585 million box office.
14. Iron Man 2 (2010)
One of the least consequential Marvel films, 'Iron Man 2' came out after Marvel had firmly established itself on the cinematic landscape but before it broke the mold with 'The Avengers,' leaving it in a confused but lucrative limbo, where it was able to make $623 million at the box office.
13. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Often considered one of the lesser Marvel films by fans, 'Thor: The Dark World' was still a huge success and brought over $644 million to the company. Though Branagh was no longer at the helm, the film still pulsed with the operatic weight he instilled in the franchise.
12. Doctor Strange (2016)
One of Marvel's riskier projects, Doctor Strange was such a niche character with such a complicated lore, that there was no real guarantee he would connect with audiences the way the other films had. However, Benedict Cumberbatch led the film to make $677 million in total.
11. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Widely considered the movie that proved to general audiences that the Marvel films were capable of transcending their genre in a meaningful way, 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' was a subtle narrative about the dangers of a police state and federal invasions of privacy. It cleaned up almost $714 million when all was said and done.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Just as the MCU was starting to feel stale, James Gunn came in like a bolt from the blue with his witty, family-oriented space opera about a set of broken people coming together to support one another, and maybe save the universe in the process. It casually walked away with $773 million.
9. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
'Thor: Ragnarok' was the first big-budget film of acclaimed New Zealand director Taika Waititi, whose off-kilter comedic style and masterful use of color and visuals led the film to a $853 million return. Waititi had previously worked with Marvel on a pair of short, comedic films which depicted how Thor lived a simple life during the events of other Marvel films.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
After reinventing the superhero genre with its predecessor, James Gunn did it all over again with the sequel, using the heroes to determine where redemption can come from in a family dynamic. The film was considered the most gut-wrenchingly emotional of the Marvel films, and made $863 million in total.
7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
'Homecoming' was the first of Marvel's experiments in shared intellectual property with Sony, who technically owns the film rights to Spider-Man. While the MCU version of the character had appeared previously, this was the first time he'd taken center stage. Although the film received fairly bland reviews, it still made $880 million.
6. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
It's superheroes fighting superheroes, who doesn't want to see that? The film was the logical and satisfying conclusion to the story started with 'The Avengers' and made $1.15 billion based on that sheer premise. It also debuted two more MCU heroes, Spider-Man and Black Panther.
5. Iron Man 3 (2013)
If 'Iron Man' changed the superhero genre for good and 'Iron Man 2' was one of the first and only Marvel let-downs, then 'Iron Man 3' was left somewhere in the middle. It was a huge character-building arc for Tony Stark himself, but didn't have any real consequences in the larger universe. Still made $1.21 billion though.
4. Black Panther (2018)
While other Marvel films were mostly aimed at a global market, 'Black Panther' was made squarely for American audiences, more specifically African-Americans who had not been properly represented as a headlining superhero in the modern era. Though it made $1.34 billion global, its real accomplishment was the $700 million domestic box office, the highest in Marvel history.
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
It should have been almost impossible to follow on the heels of 'The Avengers,' a film that singlehandedly restructured how Hollywood viewed blockbusters. 'Age of Ultron' was a respectable film that seemed to accept itself for what it was and enjoyed being a continuation of the Avengers's story, an attitude that saw it draw $1.4 billion.
2. The Avengers (2012)
Producers had originally believed that it couldn't be done, that a genre-fusion, shared universe project would never fly with general audiences. Then Joss Whedon slid in the room like Kramer and made them eat their words. 'The Avengers' shattered box office records and ended its run with over $1.51 billion.
1. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
'Infinity War' decided to subvert the entire superhero genre with one simple statement: the bad guy wins. For once, the heroes didn't measure up and suffered huge losses, putting the entire world on notice that anyone was fair game in upcoming features. The self-described 'most ambitious crossover in film history' cleaned house with $2.04 billion.