Of course, this is just an incomplete picture. We don't know for sure how or where the studio made the real money—merchandising. As being said, the success of a movie at the box office can still provide an indication of the popularity of the movie and also the cultural impact.
Here Are the Highest-Grossing Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies:
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $86,180,188
- Lifetime Domestic: $134,806,913
Lifetime Worldwide: $263,427,551
The Incredible Hulk is known as a failed MCU movie. Maybe that's because the Hulk character in this movie is not really connecting with the audience, which is a superhero who hates being the thing that the audience wants to see.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $67,974,151
- Lifetime Domestic: $176,654,505
Lifetime Worldwide: $370,569,774
Even though Captain America: The First Avenger or Thor are not as good as the first Iron Man, they had a higher order based on the concept and selling a new character. They showed that Marvel Studios had reached the audience even though the movie wasn't a phenomenon.
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $71,459,311
- Lifetime Domestic: $181,030,624
Lifetime Worldwide: $449,326,618
This might not be a smash hit movie, but it's good enough to make Marvel studios know that there are still many people who want to see the character in The Avengers.
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $113,625,526
- Lifetime Domestic: $180,202,163
Lifetime Worldwide: $519,311,965
The Marvel brand is a bit shaky here with movies that were drastically less just a few months after the Age of Ultron came out, but for the debut of a new character (since Captain America back in 2011), by getting more than half a billion worldwide is a solid return.
Iron Man (2008)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $197,674,140
- Lifetime Domestic: $318,412,101
Lifetime Worldwide: $585,174,222
When a character that was previously unknown to many people ends up grossing more than $300 million domestically and over half a billion worldwide, that's the recipe for success. If the Iron Man movie had failed, the MCU would look very different now or may not even exist.
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $161,703,719
- Lifetime Domestic: $216,648,740
Lifetime Worldwide: $622,674,139
Ant-Man and Wasp had the lowest opening weekend in a certain period of time for Marvel, but it still managed to make almost $100 million more than the original.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $220,766,270
- Lifetime Domestic: $312,433,331
Lifetime Worldwide: $623,933,331
While the plot has many problems, Iron Man 2 can still perform at the box office. The movie out-grossed the original movie on the opening weekend and worldwide.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $195,137,841
- Lifetime Domestic: $206,362,140
Lifetime Worldwide: $644,571,402
Thor: The Dark World is better than its predecessor both domestically and worldwide.
Doctor Strange (2016)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $172,803,710
- Lifetime Domestic: $232,641,920
Lifetime Worldwide: $677,718,395
The success of Doctor Strange's movie shows that it should not have problems in future movies. If the studio has been guaranteed to earn more than half a billion worldwide in each new character, then their model for success shows no signs of slowing down.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $170,223,721
- Lifetime Domestic: $259,766,572
Lifetime Worldwide: $714,264,267
This movie grossed almost double of what the first movie made worldwide. It shows that the audience has triggered not only for the character, but also to the Russo Brothers to take over the movie.
Captain Marvel (2019): As of March 16, 2019
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $456,718,598
- Lifetime Domestic: $266,213,933
Lifetime Worldwide: $762,083,380
Captain Marvel has become the biggest opening weekend of all time for a female-led movie both worldwide and domestically. It also placed Captain Marvel in the second largest opening weekend of a comic book adaptation movie behind Avengers: Infinity War.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $160,720,883
- Lifetime Domestic: $333,176,600
Lifetime Worldwide: $773,328,629
The movie is very different from other Marvel movies, but the power of Marvel’s brand got people to come out on the opening weekend and they really liked James Gunn's vision so much that is why it grossed nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $231,831,205
- Lifetime Domestic: $315,058,289
Lifetime Worldwide: $853,977,126
Thor: Ragnarok exploded past the opening weekend of the previous two Thor films, which was a good sign for Marvel. It shows that audiences are connected with the character and they also liked Taika Waititi's unique take.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $252,522,752
- Lifetime Domestic: $389,813,101
Lifetime Worldwide: $863,756,051
This movie grossed more than what the original made at the box office. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" proves that once audiences have invested in the characters, they will always look forward to the next sequel.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $256,535,853
- Lifetime Domestic: $334,201,140
Lifetime Worldwide: $880,166,924
The character and movie are distributed by Sony Pictures, which owns the Spider-Man. But the movie is firmly in the MCU and grossed higher than The Amazing Spider-Man at the box office.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $379,539,142
- Lifetime Domestic: $408,084,349
Lifetime Worldwide: $1,153,304,495
Marvel Studios packed the third Captain America movie with superheroes and succeeds at the box office. This movie earned more than one billion worldwide.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $372,544,585
- Lifetime Domestic: $409,013,994
Lifetime Worldwide: $1,214,811,252
Some people argue that the box office that inflated this movie was due to how well the Avengers did. Iron Man 3 may be drastically different from every Marvel movie, but audiences went for it. Besides that, the movie won't get more than a billion dollars unless the audience likes it.
Black Panther (2018)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $371,367,531
- Lifetime Domestic: $700,059,566
Lifetime Worldwide: $1,346,913,161
Black Panther has made more than one billion dollars worldwide and also got the best review (97%) on Rotten Tomatoes.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $392,471,109
- Lifetime Domestic: $459,005,868
Lifetime Worldwide: $1,405,403,694
While Avengers 2 made slightly less than the first movie, it wasn't a drastic drop, and basically this tends to happen in the sequel. Even if the movie made less than a billion, it’s not like Marvel Studios would stop making the next Avengers movie.
The Avengers (2012)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $392,538,708
- Lifetime Domestic: $623,357,910
Lifetime Worldwide: $1,518,812,988
This is what it was all leading up to, that is the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and their biggest bets are paid off. At that time, it was the highest grossing opening weekend of all time and it currently the fifth highest grossing movie of all time.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
- Opening Wknd Worldwide: $640,521,291
- Lifetime Domestic: $678,815,482
Lifetime Worldwide: $2,048,359,754
Avengers: Infinity War took the record as the biggest opening weekend of all time, both domestic and worldwide. It also became Marvel's highest grossing film of all time.
Opening Weekends Worldwide, Ranked:
- #1 Avengers: Infinity War: $640,521,291
- #2 Captain Marvel: $456,718,598
- #3 Marvel's The Avengers: $392,538,708
- #4 Avengers: Age of Ultron: $392,471,109
- #5 Captain America: Civil War: $379,539,142
- #6 Iron Man 3: $372,544,585
- #7 Black Panther: $371,367,531
- #8 Spider-Man: Homecoming: $256,535,853
- #9 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: $252,522,752
- #10 Thor: Ragnarok: $231,831,205
- #11 Iron Man 2: $220,766,270
- #12 Iron Man: $197,674,140
- #13 Thor: The Dark World: $195,137,841
- #14 Doctor Strange: $172,803,710
- #15 Captain America: The Winter Soldier: $170,223,721
- #16 Ant-Man and the Wasp: $161,703,719
- #17 Guardians of the Galaxy: $160,720,883
- #18 Ant-Man: $113,625,526
- #19 The Incredible Hulk: $86,180,188
- #20 Thor: $71,459,311
- #21 Captain America: The First Avenger: $67,974,151
Domestic Totals, Ranked:
- #1 Black Panther: $700,059,566
- #2 Avengers: Infinity War: $678,815,482
- #3 Marvel's The Avengers: $623,357,910
- #4 Avengers: Age of Ultron: $459,005,868
- #5 Iron Man 3: $409,013,994
- #6 Captain America: Civil War: $408,084,349
- #7 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: $389,813,101
- #8 Spider-Man: Homecoming: $334,201,140
- #9 Guardians of the Galaxy: $333,176,600
- #10 Iron Man: $318,412,101
- #11 Thor: Ragnarok: $315,058,289
- #12 Iron Man 2: $312,433,331
- #13 Captain Marvel: $266,213,933
- #14 Captain America: The Winter Soldier: $259,766,572
- #15 Doctor Strange: $232,641,920
- #16 Ant-Man and the Wasp: $216,648,740
- #17 Thor: The Dark World: $206,362,140
- #18 Thor: $181,030,624
- #19 Ant-Man: $180,202,163
- #20 Captain America: The First Avenger : $176,654,505
- #21 The Incredible Hulk: $134,806,913