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The MCU vs. Other Mega Movie Franchises

The MCU vs. Other Mega Movie Franchises

Just how big is the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a movie franchise? Let’s look at some numbers to put this franchises’ accomplishments in perspective against the competition.

 The MCU is now the highest grossing cinematic property ever. Disney’s 10 years of franchise building have yielded some sizable results. The MCU has so far released 19 films, which makes it the second-most prolific film franchise (of the modern era) behind James Bond. The only other film franchise that comes close to it in terms of earnings is also James Bond. There have been other franchises that have earned more per film, and others have had better responses from critics, but the MCU may not have even reached its peak yet.

To put all this into perspective, I did a little research and put together some handy comparisons below. I selected six other mega movie franchises for comparison with the highest total box office proceeds. Some people may consider the Pixar films as a franchise, or all of the previous Batman films, but for the purposes of this investigation, I did not consider them. To me, a franchise has to be based on the same central characters throughout. There can be related spin offs, but the storyline needs to be consistent and share the same characters and vision. In the case of the James Bond franchise, I only considered the Ion Productions films. 

All box office earnings are adjusted for inflation, and account for total international gross. For some older films (Star Wars, James Bond), it is difficult to find accurate international box office proceeds, and so the values listed for those films may not be as accurate as later films. Box office earnings are based on proceeds as of 5/21/2017. Both the MCU and X-Men franchises currently have films in theaters and so their total proceeds are still increasing.


 The Data

First, let's look at what each franchise brings to the table:

Marvel Cinematic Universe Year MCU Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
Iron Man 2008 585.2 79 94
The Incredible Hulk 2008.5 263.4 61 67
Iron Man 2 2010 623.9 57 73
Thor 2011 449.3 57 77
Captain America: The First Avenger 2011 370.6 66 79
Marvel's The Avengers 2012 1519 62 92
Iron Man 3 2013 1215 62 80
Thor: The Dark World 2013 644.6 54 66
Captain America: Winter Soldier 2014 714 70 89
Guardians of the Galaxy 2014 773.3 76 91
Avengers: Age of Ultron 2015 1405 66 75
Ant Man 2015 519.3 64 82
Captain America: Civil War 2016 1132 75 91
Doctor Strange 2016 677.7 72 89
Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 2017 863.8 67 83
Spider-Man: Homecoming 2017 880.2 73 92
Thor: Ragnarok 2017 854 74 92
Black Panther 2018 1185 88 97
Avengers: Infinity War 2018 1686 68 84

MCU TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = $16,361,000,000.00

MCU Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $861,000,000.00

MCU Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 83.84

MCU Average Metacritic Rating = 67.95

Star Wars Year Box Office Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
A New Hope 1977 2570 90 93
The Empire Strikes Back 1980 1390 82 95
Return of the Jedi 1983 2165 58 80
The Phantom Menace 1999 1479 51 55
Attack of the Clones 2002 892 54 66
Revenge of the Sith 2005 1088 68 79
The Clone Wars 2008 79.4 35 18
The Force Awakens 2015 2186 81 93
Rogue One 2016 1102 65 81
The Last Jedi 2017 1361 85 91

Star Wars TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = $14,312,400,000.00

Star Wars Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $1,391,120,000.00

Star Wars Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 75.1

Star Wars Average Metacritic Rating = 66.9

James Bond James Bond Box Office Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
Dr. No 1962 440 78 96
From Russia With Love 1963 576 85 96
Goldfinger 1964 912 87 97
Thunderball 1965 1014 64 86
You Only Live Twice 1967 756 61 73
OHMSS 1969 505 61 82
Diamonds are Forever 1971 648 59 67
Live and Let Die 1973 825 55 66
Man with the Golden Gun 1974 440 43 45
The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 692 55 79
Moonraker 1979 655 66 62
For Your Eyes Only 1981 486 54 74
Octopussy 1983 426 63 42
A View to a Kill; 1985 321 40 36
The Living Daylights 1987 381 60 71
License to Kill 1989 285 58 77
Goldeneye 1995 529 65 78
Tomorrow Never Dies 1997 478 52 57
The World is Not Enough 1999 491 57 51
Die Another Day 2002 543 56 56
Casino Royale 2006 669 80 94
Quantum of Solace 2008 622 58 65
Skyfall 2012 1109 81 92
Spectre 2015 880 60 63

James Bond TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = $14,683,000,000.00

James Bond Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $611,792,000.00 ($823,000,000.00 if you ignore Clone Wars)

James Bond Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 71.0

James Bond Average Metacritic Rating = 62.4

Lord of the Rings Year Box Office Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 871 92 91
The Two Towers 2002 926 87 95
Return of the King 2003 1119 94 93
An Unexpected Journey 2012 1021 58 65
The Desolation of Smaug 2013 958 66 74
Battle of the Five Armies 2014 956 59 59

LoTR TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = 5,851,000,000.00

LoTR Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $975,000,000.00

LoTR Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 79.5

LoTR Average Metacritic Rating = 76

Harry Potter Year Box Office Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
Sorcerer's Stone 2001 974 64 80
Chamber of Secrets 2002 878 63 82
Prisoner of Azkaban 2004 796 82 91
Goblet of Fire 2005 896 81 88
Order of the Phoenix 2007 939 71 78
Half Blood Prince 2009 934 78 84
Deathly Hallows - Part 1 2010 960 65 78
Deathly Hallows - Part 2 2011 1341 87 96
Fantastic Beasts 2016 812 66 74

Harry Potter TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = $8,530,000,000.00

Harry Potter Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $947,800,000.00

Harry Potter Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 83.4

Harry Potter Average Metacritic Rating = 73

X-Men Year Box Office Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
X-Men 2000 296.3 64 81
X2 2003 407 68 85
X-Men: The Last Stand 2006 459 58 58
X-Men: Origins: Wolverine 2009 374 40 38
X-Men: First Class 2011 355 65 86
The Wolverine 2013 416 61 69
X-Men: Days of Future Past 2014 747 75 90
Deadpool 2016 801 65 83
X-Men: Apocalypse 2016 542 52 48
Logan 2017 615 77 93
Deadpool 2 2018 301 66 83

Harry Potter TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = $5,313,300,000.00

Harry Potter Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $483,020,000.00

Harry Potter Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 74

Harry Potter Average Metacritic Rating = 62.8

Fast and Furious Year Box Office Metacritic Rotten Tomatoes
The Fast and the Furious 2001 207 58 53
2 Fast 2 Furious 2003 236 39 36
Tokyo Drift 2006 158 45 37
Fast & Furious 2009 363.2 46 29
Fast Five 2011 626.1 66 77
Fast & Furious 6 2013 788.7 61 69
Furious 7 2015 1516 67 80
The Fate of the Furious 2017 1239 56 66

Fast and Furious TOTAL BOX OFFICE HAUL (adjusted) = $5,134,000,000.00

Fast and Furious Average Box Office Proceeds per Film (adjusted) = $641,750,000.00

Fast and Furious Average Rotten Tomatoes Rating = 55.9

Fast and Furious Average Metacritic Rating = 54.8


The Comparisons

First, here's a chart that shows each franchise's box office earnings by film over time. You can click on any chart to see a larger version in another window:

 chart 5

Now, let's look at how the MCU compares to these other franchises in terms of the criteria listed above:

chart 6

chart 7

chart 3

chart 4