It may be just the latest in a long list of box office accomplishments, but GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY hit a new milestone on Sunday for itself and Marvel Studios. At $752.6 million, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is now the highest grossing superhero film of the year worldwide after taking the domestic crown back in August. In doing so, GOTG has now given Marvel the studio’s fifth straight year with the highest grossing superhero film in the world. 

2010 – IRON MAN 2 – $623.9 million

2011 – THOR – $449. 3 million

2012 – THE AVENGERS – $1.5 billion

2013 – IRON MAN 3 – $1.2 billion

2014 – GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – $752.6 million

GOTG will undoubtedly add to its margin of victory just as Marvel is assured a sixth straight global superhero box office win with next year’s AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. The last time Marvel did not produce the genre’s top grossing film was 2009, a year in which the studio did not release any movies. The only year in which Marvel released a film and did not have a global champion was 2008, when THE DARK KNIGHT bested IRON MAN.

Acknowledging the extent of Marvel’s prowess within the genre is hardly newsworthy anymore, but the level of GOTG’s success is a remarkable achievement for the studio. Going into 2014, a fourth place finish behind CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, and X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST would have still been respectable for GOTG. Those films all eclipsed $700 million globally (still an elite mark within the genre) and were based far more established properties, especially X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY really only had to compete against itself and its own budget in order to find success. A brand new franchise based on an obscure property that even many comic book fans had not heard of would have been a massive hit at $400 million worldwide. GOTG has instead gone from underdog to powerhouse, posting the second best global box office figure ever for the first film in a new comic book franchise. Only SPIDER-MAN did it better with $821. 7 million in 2002, but let’s be honest, Spidey had a far greater built-in audience going in.

It’s easy and fair to attribute some of GOTG’s success to Marvel’s unquestionable brand power that continues to be proven year over year. The biggest factor in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY’s success, however, has been the film itself. Director James Gunn tapped into something special and universal in his crazy, comical, and cosmic adventure by giving his film sincere and undeniable heart.

This world champion has earned and will continue to earn every penny from its audience.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is in theaters now and you can own the film on Digital HD starting November 18, and Blu-ray on December 9.

(box office figures courtesy of box office mojo)