Marvel Studios is on a roll. The studio released three films this year, all of which have grossed over $800 million worldwide and also happen to be the three highest grossing superhero movies of the year. With DC Films’ Justice League struggling (relatively) at the box office, there is no challenger left to any of Marvel’s 2017 offerings. That means the studio has produced the world’s highest grossing superhero movie for the eighth consecutive year.
Thor: Ragnarok brought in another $6.3M at the domestic box office this weekend, bringing its global total to $833.2M. It may not reach Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2 ($863.6M) or the year’s current box office champ, Spider-Man: Homecoming ($880.2M), but regardless, Marvel Studios will have produced 2017’s highest grossing superhero film.
Marvel’s impressive streak survived the most competitive year since it began with Iron Man 2 in 2010. There were three other films this year based on Marvel or DC superheroes, including a Wolverine finale for Hugh Jackman in Logan ($616.8M), the first ever Justice League ($613.4M) movie, and the wildly successful Wonder Woman ($821.8M). It was the best year ever for superhero movies and Marvel Studios came out on top, again.
Marvel Studios produced their first two films in 2008, Iron Man ($585.2M) and The Incredible Hulk ($263.4M). Iron Man was a breakout hit that launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it was beaten at the global box office by The Dark Knight, the first superhero film to ever gross over $1 billion. Marvel Studios did not release a film in 2009, so the top spot went to X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($373.1M) from Fox.
Marvel Studios released Iron Man 2 ($623.9M) in 2010, which easily took the top spot over the likes of Kick-Ass ($96.2M) and Jonah Hex ($10.9M). Since then, the crowning of a Marvel Studios movie as the year’s worldwide superhero box office champion has been an annual tradition.
In 2011, Marvel’s Thor ($449.3M) dropped the hammer on the evenly matched Captain America: The First Avenger ($370.6M) from Marvel, Green Lantern ($219.9M) from WB/DC, and X-Men: First Class ($353.6M) from Fox. I say evenly matched because they were all first entries in new superhero franchises except for X-Men: First Class, which was a prequel with only minimal presence from established actors in the franchise.
The first major upset during the streak came in 2012 when The Avengers ($1.52B) set the bar too high for The Dark Knight Rises ($1.08B) to reach. Iron Man 3 ($1.22B) rode that momentum to its own victory in 2013 over WB/DC’s Man of Steel ($668.1M), Fox’s The Wolverine ($414.8M), and Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World ($644.6M).
Marvel Studios scored another upset in 2014. Guardians of the Galaxy ($773.3M), a space opera starring a handful of unknown cosmic heroes with no Avengers to be found, took on and beat a trio of established players. Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714.3M), Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($709M),and Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past ($748.1M) were all safer bets going into that year. In the end, it was writer/director James Gunn and his Guardians who prevailed and kept Marvel Studios’ streak alive.
Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1.41B) cruised to an expected victory in 2015, over Marvel’s Ant-Man ($519.3M) and Fox’s Fantastic Four ($168M). The competition got a little tougher in 2016, but Captain America: Civil War ($1.15B) won by a wide margin over Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ($873.3M), Deadpool ($783.1M), and others.
The path is now fairly clear for Marvel Studios to extend this streak to 10 years. Avengers: Infinity War has to be considered the 2018 global superhero box office favorite over New Mutants, Deadpool 2, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix from Fox, Aquaman from WB/DC, Venom from Sony Pictures, and Marvel Studios’ own Black Panther and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Avengers 4 will be favored in 2019. It should be able to earn more than Marvel Studios’ own Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel, Gambit (and possibly X-Force) from Fox, Wonder Woman II and Shazam from WB/DC, Hellboy from Lionsgate, and whatever else gets added to the superhero calendar.
If Disney really does acquire Fox’s movie studio and picks up the X-Men and Fantastic Four franchises for Marvel Studios, there’s no telling when the streak might be snapped.