This weekend, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 made us laugh, cheer, and dance as the sequel to the 2014 smash hit which turned relatively unknown characters into household names became the fifteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). From its introduction in 2008’s Iron Man to now, Marvel has proven its characters are not only super on screen, but also heroic at the box office. Here is the ranking of all of Marvel’s opening weekends at the domestic box office.
1. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) – $207.4M
If you build it, they will come (wrong movie, but you get the idea)! Marvel first teased The Avengers Initiative during the post-credits scene of Iron Man and then laid the foundation of what was to come in The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and Iron Man 2 before putting all the characters together on screen in an epic crossover. The Avengers went on to become the third highest grossing movie of all time (before Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens out grossed it and pushed it to number five).
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - $191.2M
It’s clear… When you have Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor (along with countless other Marvel favorites) on screen together, audiences are going to pack movie theatres. Ultron also introduced us to even more characters that would show up in future Marvel movies, such as Vision and Scarlet Witch. While Age of Ultron did not have as strong of a ‘Hulk Smash!’ at the box office as the first Avengers, it is still one of the highest grossing movies of all time.
3. Captain America: Civil War (2016) - $179.1M
There’s clearly a trend here - the more heroes on screen, the bigger the opening. The third installment of Captain America not only featured Steve Rogers, but paired him against Iron Man loosely following the popular 2006 comic book storyline of the same name. Not only was Civil War a Captain America story at its core, it also felt like an Avengers movie packed with characters (but this time instead of fighting together, they’re fighting against each other!)
4. Iron Man 3 (2013) - $174.1M
This big opening can be attributed to The Avengers Effect, meaning this was the first film to be released after the massive opening of The Avengers the year before. Whereas the previous films set up The Avengers, audiences were excited to see where the next phase of Marvel would go beginning with Iron Man 3.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) - $146.5M
After the first film surprised audiences and became of the highest grossing films of 2014, anticipation was high for its follow up. Vol 2 kicked off this year’s summer movie season with a bang in the tune of $146.5M. After strong critic and audience reviews, a killer soundtrack, and the adorable Baby Groot, this one will most likely be one of the highest grossing films of the year.
6. Iron Man 2 (2010) - $128.1M
Iron Man 2 was the first sequel within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and introduced Don Cheadle as Rhodey (who replaced Terrence Howard Jr.) and Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow. Fans quickly fell in love with the genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist Tony Stark and while this one did not get as strong of critical praise as its predecessor, it still had a huge opening (and gave us The Black Widow!)
7. Iron Man (2008) - $98.6M
The film that started it all. Iron Man introduced the world to Tony Stark and to the Avengers with a post credits scene that had comic book fans buzzing. Iron Man opened to huge numbers and showed a very promising future for Marvel and superhero movies in general.
8. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) - $95M
Not only is The Winter Soldier one of the best reviewed films within the franchise, it introduced many new faces to the MCU, including Cap’s sidekick Falcon (played by Anthony Mackie). The politically charged plot with the downfall of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought an added realism to the MCU and changed the direction for future Marvel movies.
9. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - $94.3M
When development of Guardians of the Galaxy was first announced in 2012, a lot of people asked ‘WHO?’ (similar to the reaction Peter Quill gets when he tells people they may know him by his other name, Star-Lord). Disney’s risk paid off as the group of unconventional heroes were a breath of fresh air that ended up leading the highest grossing movie released in the month of August (before Suicide Squad took that honor in 2016) and ended up with a total domestic box office of over $333M.
10. Thor: The Dark World - $85.7M
The second Thor was the first MCU film to be released outside of the lucrative summer box office season, with a November release date. The Dark World also was the second post-Avengers movie, and while it did not gross nearly as high as Iron Man 3, it still improved upon the first.
11. Doctor Strange (2016) - $85M
After 30 years of trying to make a Doctor Strange film, Stephen Strange finally got his introduction in 2016 with an $85M opening weekend. Led by fan favorite Benedict Cumberbatch, this film was praised for its visuals, which made it even more awesome in IMAX and Dolby Cinema. Next up for this master of the mystic arts? Thor: Ragnarok, which hits AMC Theatres on November 3!
12. Thor (2011) - $65.7M
Chris Hemsworth first picked up the Thor hammer in May, 2011. The film took the MCU beyond Earth and introduced the fictional realm of Asgard. Thor offered plenty of laughs after the hero was banished to Earth and truly was a fish out of water (or in this case a god out of water). This 2011 film also introduced Thor’s sinister brother, Loki, who would later become The Avengers villain.
13. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - $65M
2011 not only introduced us to the god of Asgard, it also brought the first Avenger himself, Captain America (and only a few months apart). This one opened almost exactly the same as Thor with $65M on its opening weekend. The First Avenger told the World War II origins of Steve Rogers 70 years prior to joining The Avengers.
14. Ant-Man (2015) – $57.2M
After creative differences during production led to director Edgar Wright leaving the film, the Marvel fandom wondered whether Ant-Man would be the studio’s first flop. Ant-Man opened to a solid $57.2M opening weekend, which is on the lower end of this list, but still was one of the bigger (no pun intended) hits of 2015. After Ant-Man was one of the fan favorites in Civil War, it’ll be interesting to see if the upcoming sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp gets a significant increase.
15. The Incredible Hulk (2008) – $55.4M
It may be easy to forget this film exists within the MCU because of who played the mean, green, fighting machine. Now, fans identify the Hulk with Mark Ruffalo after replacing Edward Norton in The Avengers and beyond. After this one sits at the bottom of the Marvel list, it will be interesting to see if we see a solo Hulk movie in the future. At least we’ll see him in Thor: Ragnarok!
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is now playing! We sat down with the cast to discuss music, the dynamic women characters and most importantly, their family. Check out our interviews, and then get your tickets.