The Marvel Cinematic Universe Has Passed $10 Billion Worldwide – Will It Ever Be Topped?


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.

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24 thoughts on “The Marvel Cinematic Universe Has Passed $10 Billion Worldwide – Will It Ever Be Topped?

  1. Great post. I think that the MCU is definitely here to stay as it is such a great cash cow for the film. What annoys me slightly is when the sub-par Marvel films still do phenomenal business, where as really great films like Sing Street which I just reviewed can’t find an audience as they have no chance of competing with the blockbusters. Everyone should try and see Sing Street🙂


  2. Depends on how you define success…one could argue that Harry Potter is still the successful franchise of all time, because it reached its crazy high numbers with only 8 movies, while the MCU needed a few more. I don’t think that this is really that important. The important part is that the MCU works, and that Marvel has managed to do a run of good movies (in the sense that there is no truly bad entry in it, only a few weaker ones) which by now surpasses Pixar’s already impressive run.

    What fascinates me even more is Disney’s current haul overall. Despite its famous name, Disney is actually one of the smaller studios out there, Warner and Universal are the big players and town, Disney used to be only strong in animation. And now they are suddenly able to pull number similar to Universal with the handful of releases they do. They already crushed it with Civil War, Zootopia and Jungle Book, and I think it is kind of a given that Finding Dory and Rogue One will follow, while Doctor Strange and Moana should at the very least pull decent numbers. The only big question marks are the BFG (which might do well due to Spielberg being attached to it), Alice through the looking glass (which will most likely be a terrible movie, but the first one somehow found their audience) and Pete’s Dragon (which is the one movie I am ready to bet will flop. People who like the original movie liked it because they liked the dragon. Changing the design that drastically was a big mistake, imho).

    Either way, it will be interesting to see how the year will develop…one thing for sure Civil War will pass the billion mark this weekend (if it didn’t do it already yesterday), and Marvel has the audience for Black Panther and Spider-man Homecoming already locked in after this introduction.


  3. The MCU looks unstoppable at this moment but there will be an inevitable flop. At this point, though when that happens the MCU can bear the loss unlike poor DC which cannot get its act right with their own cinematic universe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All good things must come to an end and all records are meant to be broken. Had anyone ever thought Titanic’s gross would be broken, and that too within 13 years?
    That said, the MCU is the definitive benchmark for critical and commercial hits presently and it’s all the better for us fans. Regardless of where other shared universes reach, I think we’d all be happier if they made good films, more The Dark Knight than BvS.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I see the MCU changing significantly after Infinity War. My guess is that they’ll stop having one large storyline that spans all the movies and instead have three or four storylines going at once. The Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor, maybe Nova movies would follow a sci-fi galaxy wide story against Galactus or Magus, then Spider-man and Black Panther start the Maximum Carnage storyline, all while Agents of SHIELD, Ant-man, the Defenders, and the Inhumans deal with the Secret Invasion.

    Breaking it up this way would still allow epic crossovers, but would make continuity easier to deal with. It would also give the writers and directors a little more flexibility on each movie.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think they should keep on doing what they’re doing. The nice thing about the Marvel movies is they take the criticism and try and improve on the last film for the next film. Sometimes it works CA:WS and sometimes it doesn’t AoU (although I like AoU but get the complaints). So long as they keep working on trying to improve themselves they should be remaining at the top. It’s when they stop listening to feedback that will be the sign of their downfall.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Let’s be honest about it… eventually the tide will turn. The same company making good decisions with its movies has not made as good decisions with its comics… which means, eventually they will stumble in the theaters. Also, eventually some of the actors are going to age-out or just lose interest or perhaps ask for too much money… and when that happens, will they keep going with new actors? OR will they start over and have new origin movies again? I hope the ride lasts a long time… but as they say, all good things must come to an end… some day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I forget where I read this, but they said they’d take a James Bond approach to that, just switching out the actors. But yes, eventually they’ll have to make a flop. But critically and financially, it’s 13-0 so far.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That would be the ideal way to treat it… I hate the trilogy-reboot-new-origin cycle we kept being in with super-hero movies… What are you counting, though, in your 13-0? Frankly, I’m good with all the movies… but honestly, I remember very little of either Thor movie, they just did not impress… and I seem to remember Iron Man 2 and 3 being more poorly reviewed than the first Iron Man even though I liked them just fine myself. All of them have made money, though to be fair a lot of that money has been International and not USA-domestic… some of the films would have been borderline probably without the huge International box office take which didn’t used to be a big part of the market. I could envision a near-future where the USA market is almost a blip compared to International box office, and in that scenario, the movies might fail critically (because of mostly US-biased reviews) but still succeed Internationally.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, what I mean by 13-0 is that they’ve been commercially and critically successful. All have done far more than break even at the box office, domestically and internationally. Critically none has been a flop, at least not by Rotten Tomatoes standards. I personally loved the first Thor movie. Take a literal God, remove his powers, place him in a small town within New Mexico. Genius. Hilarious. In my top five personal favorites, though if I were to rank them by merits it’d be closer to 7.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a really good blog, I’m going to confess I know the Star Wars world better than Marvel so in my head at the beginning of this article I was thinking well Star Wars could but your argument was very well thought out. And marvel does have us conditioned to sit through the credits in anticipation of their next movie, even someone like me has started to need to see that tease. MCU is the powerhouse right now.

    Liked by 2 people

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