Almost Half of the 25 Highest-Grossing Films of the 2010s Were Marvel Movies

Moviegoers’ expectations have been increasing year after year. With ever-changing capabilities because of technology, fans expect more and more out of the special effects.

Films are also having to compete in ways they never have in the past. With streaming platforms popping up left and right and creating their own content, major studios no longer have the luxury of limited competition. Despite the increased competition and demands, entertainment is a major economic force, and film creators that get it right can be rewarded with tremendous paydays. 

Luckily for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, they seem to have found a winning formula. In fact, they’re so good at making hit films that almost half of the highest-grossing films from the last decade came from the franchise. 

The MCU started out of desperation

Kevin Feige
Kevin Feige | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

It’s hard to imagine now, but it wasn’t that long ago that Marvel was struggling. They had just exited bankruptcy and many of their A-list superheroes were tied up with other big-name studios. That’s how an experiment was born.

According to Forbes, Marvel decided to take their B- and C-list characters and create some films hoping to generate enough revenue to make a comeback. Iron Man and Hulk were the first up. Neither film went exactly as expected. The Incredible Hulk was a flop, and if the future of the franchise had been hung on that attempt alone, it likely wouldn’t have happened.

On the other hand, Iron Man was a surprise hit and Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the title character became the center of the new project. 

Marvel made a real gamble, but it wasn’t a blind stab in the dark. They believed in themselves and their vision. As Forbes reports, “Marvel started out with a plan to build a larger cinematic universe of many different heroes who all coexist together in a single shared world.

Before they even started pre-production on their very first movie, the plan was to link the films together and create something that had never been done before.”

MCU films enjoy huge budgets

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These days, the MCU has a track record of success that allows creators to demand incredible budgets

Avengers: Endgame had an astounding $350 million budget, and that doesn’t count its additional $150 million marketing budget. Black Panther, which received rave reviews from critics across the entertainment world, had a $200 million budget. Avengers: Infinity War was another impressive expense that totaled more than $320 million. 

A lot of the budget in the MCU goes to securing talented actors. Robert Downey Jr. was only paid $500,000 for his first appearance as Iron Man, but by the time that Infinity War came around, he had negotiated a deal based on a percentage of sales, which means his paycheck for that film alone was around $75 million.

Other stars across the franchise include Scarlett Johansson (who received $20 million for Endgame) and Chris Hemsworth (who got only $150,000 for the first Thor movie and more than $15 million for Endgame). 

The investment paid off for the MCU

Those huge budgets have been well worth the expense as the MCU has become the most successful film franchise of all time. Since its inception in 2008, the franchise has seen success after success in the box office. In fact, more than half of the highest-grossing films in the 2010’s came from the MCU.

A Reddit thread featuring an infographic cataloging the top 25 highest-grossing films of the decade made the MCU’s success clear. 

Lowest on the list was 2019’s Captain Marvel, which brought in an impressive $1.12 billion and came in 23rd overall. Spider-Man: Far From Home (22nd), Captain America: Civil War (20th), and Iron Man 3 (18th) were all in the bottom of the list as well.

Once the list gets into the top 10, the MCU’s dominance is even more apparent. Coming in at 10th place is Black Panther (with $1.34 billion). Avengers: Age of Ultron (9th), The Avengers (6th), and Avengers: Infinity War (3rd) all had impressive ranks as well. Sitting at the very top, Avengers: Endgame had an absolutely astounding $2.8 billion.