Over the last 15 years, Marvel Studios’ MCU has become a box office juggernaut.
Not only does it tout the title as the biggest comic book movie franchise ever but the series of 30 films also ranks as the biggest movie franchise of all time.
In its decade-and-a-half run thus far, the MCU has raked in nearly $30 billion across its theatrical projects and shows no sign of stopping with the incoming Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania expected to have a hefty payday at the ticket window.
So with Ant-Man 3 on the horizon, here are the 5 Besr MCU ranked by box office returns up to this point.
5.) Avengers: Age of Ultron
Worldwide gross: $1,395,316,979
One of four Avengers films rounding out the top five on this list is Avengers: Age of Ultron. The 2015 Avengers sequel grossed $1.39 billion worldwide, becoming the second-biggest MCU film of all at the time of release (a record that would stand until 2018).
The costumed team-up film made Disney and Marvel a profit of $382 million, with the likes of Paul Bettany’s Vision and Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch making their MCU debuts in the sequel. While Age of Ultron would mark the end of Joss Whedon’s time with Marvel Studios, the director went out with a bang, putting out what was at the time the seventh-biggest movie in history.
4.) The Avengers
Worldwide gross: $1,515,100,211
From a box office perspective, there was the MCU pre-The Avengers and there was the MCU post-The Avengers. Marvel Studios’ first team-up brought together Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for the first time on the big screen, creating a comic book spectacle that was only dreamed of before this movie’s release.
Joss Whedon’s The Avengers made over $1.5 billion at the box office, setting a new high watermark for the series and becoming the third-biggest film of all (it has since been knocked down to 10th). Yes, Marvel had success before Avengers, but the super-powered epic proved that this franchise was officially here to stay.
3.) Spider-Man: No Way Home
Worldwide gross: $1,910,048,245
Few movies have ever gotten into the same stratosphere as Spider-Man: No Way Home, which this blockbuster somehow did in the middle of a global pandemic. The MCU Spidey threequel shook the moviegoing world back in December 2021, grossing $1.91 billion and doing so as COVID-19 cases were surging worldwide.
The film was a feat both on-screen and off, bringing together 20 years of Marvel’s web-slinging hero on the big screen and racking up the box office total it did despite the conditions it was released into. It is hard to know how much COVID-19 ultimately impacted No Way Home’s final box office haul, but it is easy to envision a world where this could have been the biggest movie on this list (and maybe ever).
2.) Avengers: Infinity War
Worldwide gross: $2,048,359,754
Avengers: Infinity War (and its immediate sequel) was a theatrical event. The first part of the Infinity Saga closer was the first MCU film to cross the $2 billion mark, as Josh Brolin’s Thanos came to Earth and snapped away some of the MCU’s most iconic heroes.
After proving themselves with The Winter Soldier and Civil War, the Russo Brothers set a new standard for themselves with Infinity War. Despite the film’s massive $300 million budget, Deadline reported that after accounting for marketing and other expenses “Disney [walked] away with a half-billion in profit” from the film. It was a massive hit, and one that could only be outdone by its successor.
1.) Avengers: Endgame
Worldwide gross: $2,794,731,755
And just like the events of Phases 1-3, all roads lead to Endgame. Avengers: Endgame still holds the record as the biggest MCU movie ever and the second-biggest film of all time.
The unofficial Infinity Saga closer made $2.79 billion worldwide, and, until a late-2018 Avatar re-release from James Cameron, it was the biggest movie of all time. The movie had easily the biggest MCU budget of all time ($400 million), yet netted Marvel Studios and Disney somewhere in the ballpark of $890 million.
Endgame set a new standard, not just for the MCU, but for blockbuster moviemaking as a whole, something that only the likes of Avengers: The Kang Dynasty and Avengers: Secret Wars could even think of dethroning.