Avengers: Endgame surpassed Avatar’s record as the highest-grossing movie of all time. The film made more money in the box office in its debut weekend than any other movie in history, and its opening day was the highest grossing of all time. Then in 2019, Marvel Studios re-released Endgame in theaters with several extra minutes of footage to boost this effort, bringing the movie’s total to $2.79 billion. James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar has raked in $2.788 billion.
But after the pandemic, it was unclear whether Marvel Studios would ever be able to achieve an Endgame-level box office haul again. Disney’s strategy to release Black Widow simultaneously in theaters and on its streaming service Disney+ may have depressed the gross for that film. (Johansson ultimately sued Disney over the decision; the two parties eventually reached a settlement.)
Disney has since returned to releasing its big blockbusters exclusively in theaters, though the window between the time a movie debuts in cinemas and pops up on streaming services has shrunk. Nonetheless, Spider-Man: No Way Home became the first true box office hit of the pandemic, scoring an astounding $1.89 billion at the global box office. It’s the third-highest grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movie ever, trailing only Avengers: Endgame and Avengers: Infinity War.
Ranked in order of international grosses, from lowest the highest, here’s how much money each Marvel movie in the MCU made in the U.S. and worldwide.
28. The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Total domestic gross: $134,806,913
Total worldwide gross: $264,770,996
The Incredible Hulk is considered by some to be one of the most disappointing Marvel movies, and its box office numbers certainly suggest that fans were not particularly excited to see this film. Starring Edward Norton (rather than Mark Ruffalo, who took over the role in 2012’s The Avengers), the movie didn’t rank in the top 10 for the year, coming in at No. 17 domestically in 2008.
27. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Total domestic gross: $176,654,505
Total worldwide gross: $370,569,774
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) made his MCU debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. At the time, Evans was relatively unknown. His biggest role had been in another superhero franchise: the middling Fantastic Four movies. But Evans eventually grew into his movie star status, and Marvel Studios reaped the benefits: Each subsequent Captain America doubled the previous film’s gross.
26. Black Widow (2021)
Total domestic gross: $183,651,655
Total worldwide gross: $379,751,655
After over a decade playing sidekick to the rest of the Avengers, Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff finally got her own spinoff movie in 2021. Though the movie introduced Florence Pugh as Yelena, likely the new Black Widow, it didn’t perform particularly well at the box office. The film suffered several pandemic-related delays and ultimately the studio decided to release the film simultaneously in theaters on Disney+. Johansson sued Disney over the decision, arguing that the move depressed Black Widow’s box office numbers. (Disney and Johansson eventually settled.)
25. Eternals (2021)
Total domestic gross: $164,870,234
Total worldwide gross: $402,064,899
Chloe Zhao’s Eternals tested the bounds of the MCU formula. Zhao, a director known for realism and casting non-actors in her films, was tasked with helming a CGI-epic filled with movie stars like Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, and Kumail Nanjiani. The movie’s slow and contemplative pace divided fans and earned the MCU’s first and only rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, likely adversely affecting its box office success.
24. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
Total domestic gross: $224,543,292
Total worldwide gross: $432,243,292
Shang-Chi introduced Simu Liu as a martial arts experts who eventually comes to wield ten magical rings that grant him superpowers. Though the movie performed well in many countries, Marvel Studios never got clearance to release the film in China. Given that the film was produced with the Chinese moviegoing audience in mind—much of the dialogue is in Mandarin, and the cast includes some of Asian cinema’s biggest names, like Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung—China’s decision to block the film’s release negatively impacted its box office numbers.
23. Thor (2011)
Total domestic gross: $181,030,624
Total worldwide gross: $449,326,618
The Thor origin story, starring Chris Hemsworth and directed by Kenneth Branagh, dipped in sales faster than Iron Man had, despite mostly positive reviews from critics. The movie may not have performed well compared to future Marvel installments, but it did beat the popular romantic comedy Bridesmaids at the box office when they both released in May 2011.
22. Ant-Man (2015)
Total domestic gross: $180,202,163
Total worldwide gross: $519,311,965
The first Ant-Man movie introduces Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, a thief-turned-superhero. The comedy-caper proved that Marvel could vary its formula a bit, though concerns about director turnover—Peyton Reed replaced Edgar Wright on the film—might have depressed its movie ticket sales. Still, like most Marvel movies, it was No. 1 in the weekly box office after its premiere.
21. Iron Man (2008)
Total domestic gross: $319,034,126
Total worldwide gross: $585,796,247
The original Iron Man—the movie that jumpstarted the Marvel Cinematic Universe—proved that Marvel movies starring even relatively obscure characters could be hits. (At the time, Iron Man did not have nearly as much name recognition as Spider-Man or the X-Men characters that Marvel Studios no longer owned.) Despite its success, it was not the best performing film of 2008: Another superhero masterpiece, The Dark Knight, became the top movie of that year.
20. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Total domestic gross: $216,648,740
Total worldwide gross: $622,674,139
Ant-Man and the Wasp made history as the first movie in the MCU with a female character in its title. The Wasp, Scott Lang’s love interest Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), joins him in an urgent mission to save her mother (Michelle Pfeiffer). Laurence Fishburne and Michael Douglas, who appear in supporting roles, also gave the movie a powerful dose of star power that helped boost its box office sales above those of the original Ant-Man.
19. Iron Man 2 (2010)
Total domestic gross: $312,433,331
Total worldwide gross: $623,933,331
In the second Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark. The movie didn’t perform nearly as well as the original, but it did introduce Scarlett Johansson’s character, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanoff, to the MCU. Both Natasha and Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury play a major role in the film. Together, they begin to build the foundation for what would eventually become the Avengers team that will dominate the box office for the next decade.
18. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Total domestic gross: $206,362,140
Total worldwide gross: $644,783,140
Thor: The Dark World is widely considered one of the lesser Marvel movies. Its one dimensional villains—Dark Elves who want to suck the light out of the entire universe because they are partial to darkness—leave much to be desired. Still, The Dark World managed to outperform the first Thor film.
17. Doctor Strange (2016)
Total domestic gross: $232,641,920
Total worldwide gross: $677,796,076
Origin story films tend to make less money than the larger ensemble flicks, and Doctor Strange is no exception. Considering how little name recognition Doctor Strange had before this film’s release—and the comic book character’s strange, psychedelic origins—the fact that it was a relative hit at the box office is actually quite impressive. Benedict Cumberbatch would come to play a crucial role in the later Avengers films and Infinity Stone saga.
16. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Total domestic gross:$259,766,572
Total worldwide gross: $714,421,503
Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the first Marvel movie directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, the filmmaking team that would eventually helm some of Marvel Studio’s biggest hits: Captain America: Civil War; Avengers: Infinity War; and Avengers: Endgame. They recast the Captain America series as a spy thriller and capitalized on the all-American appeal of the Boy Scout superhero. It was a winning formula that rocketed Evans to the top of many fans’ list of most beloved Marvel stars.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Total domestic gross: $333,718,600
Total worldwide gross: $773,350,147
Guardians of the Galaxy became the top performer at the 2014 box office. That was no guarantee: James Gunn’s comedic adventure film featured a talking raccoon (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and a trisyllabic tree (Vin Diesel) alongside Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord, who at that point was best known for playing a schlubby goof on Park and Recreation.
14. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Total domestic gross: $315,058,289
Total worldwide gross: $853,983,879
Director Taika Waititi ditched the typical faux-Shakespearean Thor formula and capitalized on Hemsworth’s comedic chops instead. It was the first Thor movie to find mass audience appeal, and its success helped propel Disney to become the highest-grossing studio of 2017.
13. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Total domestic gross: $389,813,101
Total worldwide gross: $863,756,051
The second installment of Guardians was released during the worst summer movie season in years, but it still managed to surpass its predecessor at the box office and become one of Marvel Studios’ biggest hits.
12. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Total domestic gross: $334,201,140
Total worldwide gross: $880,166,924
Tom Holland reprises his Civil War role as Peter Parker in his first solo film, Spider-Man: Homecoming. It was the first collaboration between Marvel Studios and Sony (who owned the rights to the Spider-Man character). And while Homecoming actually didn’t perform as well as Sony’s 2002 adaptation of the comic starring Tobey Maguire, Holland would eventually overtake his predecessor at the box office with the smash-hit Spider-Man: No Way Home.
11. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Total domestic gross:$409,965,571
Total worldwide gross: $950,798,407
During the pandemic, Disney+ launched a series of MCU television series that connected to the Marvel films. For a year, it was unclear whether fans of the cinematic universe would need to tune into series like Wandavision and Hawkeye to fully understand what was going on the MCU movies. The answer, it seems, is yes: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was perhaps the first Marvel film to require homework. Anyone who watched the movie without having seen WandaVision would be a little lost. Still, Doctor Strange managed to quickly become one of the highest grossing movies of 2022.
10. Captain Marvel (2019)
Total domestic gross:$426,829,839
Total worldwide gross: $1,128,462,972
Captain Marvel broke boundaries with the first-ever solo female-led MCU film. It became a huge box office hit—one of Marvel’s best performing solo debuts—despite sexist trolls’ attempts to tank its reviews online. In fact, Rotten Tomatoes changed its formula to make sure that bad-faith actors could not preemptively sour the scores of movies starring women and BIPOC actors before the film was even released.
9. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Total domestic gross: $390,532,085
Total worldwide gross: $1,131,927,996
The first post-Avengers: Endgame movie set the stage for what would come next in the MCU. And fans were intrigued to find out what a world without Iron Man or Captain America might look like: The Spider-Man sequel spent its first two weekends in theaters at #1 at the box office.
8. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Total domestic gross: $408,084,349
Total worldwide gross: $1,153,337,496
The U.S. government’s resolution to place limitations on the power of the Avengers splits the team into two factions, one led by Captain America and one led by Iron Man. Captain America: Civil War’s premiere was the fifth-best North American box office opening of all time. The film would go on to massive box office numbers. And yet, by the end of Civil War‘s theatrical run in May of 2016, the movie earned less than the much-maligned Avengers film Age of Ultron in the same number of days.
7. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Total domestic gross: $409,013,994
Total worldwide gross: $1,214,811,252
Iron Man 3 had the second-highest opening in history at the time of its release in May of 2013. The film, directed by Shane Black, has since divided Marvel fans. Some who love Black’s other films, like the Downey, Jr. starrer Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, embraced the grittier Christmas film. Others found the focus on Tony Stark’s psychology a bit dull compared to Iron Man’s usual zippy quips. Either way, the film made a killing at the box office.
6. Black Panther (2018)
Total domestic gross: $700,426,566
Total worldwide gross: $1,347,597,973
It’s no secret that the nominated Black Panther, which tells the story of King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) as he fights to save the sanctity of his technologically-advanced kingdom of Wakanda, was a massive hit. It is the third highest-grossing film domestically of all time. Directed by Ryan Coogler and bolstered by a gorgeous Ludwig Göransson score and Kendrick Lamar-produced soundtrack, the film introduced compelling political and social questions into the MCU.
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Total domestic gross:$459,005,868
Total worldwide gross: $1,402,809,540
Age of Ultron is not the most beloved Marvel movie: In fact, the movie became mired in controversy over a plot line involving Black Widow reflecting on her forced sterilization as a spy in Russia. The backlash was forceful enough that the film’s director Joss Whedon (who was later accused of sexual misconduct) eventually left Twitter around the time of the film’s release. And yet, Ultron proved to be a key turning point in the Avengers franchise: Much of its plot presaged what was to come in Avengers: Endgame.
4. The Avengers (2012)
Total domestic gross: $623,357,910
Total worldwide gross: $1,518,815,515
Also directed by Whedon, the first of the MCU Avengers movies was the highest-grossing film of 2012. The team comes together for the first time to defeat Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) under the guidance of Nick Fury. Compared to the vast number of heroes in Infinity War, the original team of Avengers was quite small, consisting only of Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America, Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.
3. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
Total domestic gross: $804,792,418
Total worldwide gross: $1,901,231,491
Despite a COVID-19 wave right around the time of No Way Home’s release, the third Spider-Man movie delivered a monster box office. Not only was it the biggest movie of the pandemic, it became the third-highest grossing MCU movie ever. Fans flocked to the film in no small part because No Way Home starred not one, but three Spider-Men: Thanks to some multiversal magic, Tom Holland’s Spidey was able to battle villains from the old Sony movies, alongside Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parkers.
2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Total domestic gross: $678,815,482
Total worldwide gross: $2,048,359,754
Infinity War is the second highest-grossing superhero movie of all time. For the first time, all the heroes from the Marvel Cinematic Universe—the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the warriors in Wakanda—were all fighting together to stop one mad alien Thanos, who wanted to destroy half of all life in the universe for environmental reasons. News of the film’s shocking ending quickly spread and drove audiences to the box office early and set high expectations for an epic finale in Avengers: Endgame, which premiered the following year.
1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Total domestic gross: $858,373,000
Total worldwide gross: $2,797,501,328
Marvel slowly and meticulously built toward the Infinity War saga for a decade. The finale to that storyline, Avengers: Endgame, did not disappoint. The film, which decided the fate of many integral characters, began breaking records before it was released: Fandango announced that presales for the film sold five times the number of tickets that Avengers: Infinity War did over the same period in 2018. The Russo brothers’ movie went on to achieve the highest opening-weekend gross worldwide and become the highest grossing movie of all time, earning a mind-boggling $2.8 billion at the box office.
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