Captain America: Civil War hit an impressive milestone today, reaching $1B worldwide. It’s entered an elite club of films that have done just that, making Civil War the 25th movie ever to reach that milestone. And of the thirteen Marvel Cinematic Universe films to date, it’s only the fourth to top that immense ledge. Civil War has also recently become the highest grossing movie of the year, snatching those reins right out from Zootopia‘s paws. All this in just two weeks is a great sign, not only for the movie itself, but also for the incredible staying power of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Perhaps not as surprising as it is staggering to fully comprehend, the MCU has itself reached a ledge all its own, being the first franchise to reach $10B collectively. Not that it had much competition really. It was also the first to reach $9B. And also $8B. The next highest contender would be the Harry Potter franchise at $7.72B, and then the James Bond films at $7.04B, with the Star Wars franchise coming in 4th place with $6.45B.
Like the films or not, the fact that what Marvel has done – creating an umbrella of franchises that come together in a shared universe – is genius and unprecedented, cannot be denied. Other companies are struggling to reach the momentum that Marvel has earned by springing up their own cinematic universes and rushing to create viable franchises out of thin air, but it’s an upstream battle.
Marvel’s patience, vision and formula have become enigmatic to other film companies, but it really just boils down to making good movies that people will continue to watch. At 2 films a year (soon to be 3 per year) the worldwide gross for the MCU is, as we know it, unbeatable. I expect that by the time Avengers: Infinity War Part II rolls around around in just 3 years time, the MCU will be close to hitting, if it hasn’t already reached, $20B worldwide.
Can the MCU ever be topped in their ascent? Well, unless you’re adjusting the worldwide gross for inflation, it doesn’t seem likely. At least not in the next decade, perhaps even two. So long as these films continue to make good money, the MCU will push onwards and upwards. We know there are plans for films after Phase 3 of Marvel’s lineup comes to a close, but it seems a far off thought to us who don’t know the full picture. Since The Avengers, the films have all been leading towards the major crossover event, Infinity War, but after that is through we have no clue as to what will come next. Have no doubt that Disney and Marvel Studios, led by the guiding hand of Kevin Feige, have plans for long after Phase 3 is finished.
But all good things come to an end, and the MCU will eventually have to close its doors. The superhero genre will likely lose popularity as we begin receiving upwards of 5-6 blockbuster superhero films per year. At that point however, the MCU will have become so far ahead of its competition, it would be unrealistic to assume any franchise could top it.
But then, of course, there’s Star Wars. If adjusted for inflation, the franchise would be very close to the MCU’s $10B. But at its current rate of growth it’s just not possible for Star Wars to overtake it, so long as Marvel puts out 2-3 films per year, and Disney continues to release one Star Wars film per year. Even if the success of The Force Awakens were replicated year after year, reaching over $2B dollars a film, which it won’t, the MCU’s continual growth would still eclipse it.
But if any franchise were to surpass it, it’d definitely be Star Wars. A great article was written by Wired about how we won’t live to see the final Star Wars film, and that’s a testament to the fact that Star Wars is forever.
I expect the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be unsurpassable as the highest grossing franchise for at least 15-20 years, even if it only lasts another 10. No other competitor on the market as we know it now will be able to surpass it, except for Star Wars, if only because it’s a franchise that’s willing to play the long game.