The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is unprecedented. It’s the highest-grossing film franchise of all time with a worldwide gross of over $28 billion. To put that into context, the second-highest-grossing franchise is Star Wars at $10 billion. What’s even more impressive is after 30 movies, zero have flopped at the box office. Several films, like The Incredible Hulk or Eternals, registered disappointing box office returns, but no MCU film has ever made less than its budget.
With superhero films dominating the box office in 2022, Marvel has shown no signs of slowing down, with 10 movies planned from now through 2026. When examining the 13 highest-grossing films of all time, Marvel accounts for five of those spots. Find out which MCU films below.
A few years after the Battle of New York, the Avengers find themselves in Sokovia where they retrieve Loki’s scepter. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) use artificial intelligence within the scepter to create Ultron (voiced by James Spader), a global defense program. However, Ultron believes human extinction is the only way to save humanity, so it attacks the Avengers and creates an army of robot drones.
Age of Ultron introduces a set of new characters that play major roles in the proceeding films. The Maximoff twins, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), side with Ultron because Stark’s weapons killed their parents. Also, Stark and Banner upload J.A.R.V.I.S. into a synthetic body called Vision (Paul Bettany), which holds the Mind Stone in its head. The film ends with an epic battle in Sokovia, and the mid-credits scene teases the villain that will wreak havoc on the MCU for years to come.
There’s an argument to be made that Marvel’s The Avengers is the most important film in the MCU’s history. It proved that the team-up movie works as a format and that audiences will flock to see their favorite characters in one film. The first superheroes to join the MCU’s Avengers were Iron Man, Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Hulk.
These six superheroes were recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to protect and defend the people of Earth. When Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steals the Tesseract, he opens a wormhole in New York City and summons the Chitauri to subjugate Earth. Forced into action, the Avengers fight Loki and his army in a memorable battle that will affect future events in the MCU.
Outside of an Avengers movie, the most financially successful movie in the MCU is Spider-Man: No Way Home. After the events of Far From Home, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is outed as Spider-Man, throwing a wrench in both his private and personal life. Peter asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to conceal his identity as Spider-Man once again with the use of magic. However, a mishap with the spell unlocks the multiverse, bringing a quintet of supervillains from different Spider-Man universes into the fold. Peter enlists the help of other heroes from different universes, which culminates with an iconic meeting between the three Spider-Men.
No Way Home established Holland’s Spider-Man as the hero to lead the MCU post-Tony Stark and Captain America. The fact that No Way Home grossed just under $2 billion during a pandemic is beyond impressive. Hopefully, Holland signs a new deal and brings more Spider-Man movies to the MCU.
After teasing the Mad Titan in mid-credit scenes for years, Thanos (Josh Brolin) finally arrived in Avengers: Infinity War. Thanos is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones and wipe out half of the universe’s population. Thanos quickly collects stone after stone and adds them to his Infinity Gauntlet.
With only the Mind Stone remaining, Thanos’ army descends on Wakanda. Multiple Avengers such as Steve Rogers, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), Black Widow, and Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) team up with Wakanda’s forces to fight Thanos’ army. The epic battle ends in tragedy and features one of the saddest moments in the MCU’s history. It’s OK to cry after the snap.
Avengers, assemble. After over a decade of storytelling, the Infinity Saga arrived at its epic conclusion in Avengers: Endgame. After Thanos’ snap wiped out half the world’s population, the surviving Avengers go their separate ways. Just as all hope is lost, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) escapes the Quantum Realm and theorizes through time travel, the Avengers can retrieve the Infinity Stones and reverse Thanos’ snaps.
The theory proves correct, and the Avengers retrieve all of the Infinity Stones. However, Thanos won’t go down without a fight as his entire army stages an all-out attack on Avengers HQ. In one of the most satisfying moments in Marvel’s history, the Avengers reunite to take on Thanos and save humanity. Endgame stuck the landing and will be regarded as one of the best movies in the MCU.
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