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Marvel Changes Movies Part 2: Building an Empire

Marvel Changes Movies Marvel Changes Movies

After over sixty years of ups and downs, Marvel was poised to begin building its film empire right at the start of the new millennium.  Blade had released in 1999 and showed that a Marvel character could be successful on screen for the first time, and Marvel Studios was licensing its characters to production companies after their comic book successes in the 90s.  At that point, no one knew what a huge success Marvel movies would be and few companies were willing to give a Marvel property the budget it needed to be done well.  No one would have believed that in a little over a decade, Marvel would be at the forefront of Hollywood.  Today we’ll look at the movies Marvel released from 2000 on and analyze what it took to build an empire.

 

Movies are changing, and Marvel is at the helm.  Join us for part 2 of a four part special event as we explore where Marvel came from, how they rose to silver screen prominence, how they’ve changed filmmaking, and what we believe the future holds.

Part 1: The Rise of Marvel
Part 2: Building an Empire
Part 3: Marvel’s Effect on the Industry
Part 4: The Future

Budget: How much it cost to make the film.
Worldwide Gross: How much the film earned.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: The percentage of critics who gave the movie a positive review.

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Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified film-related topic. These articles will be notified by the Movielinx banner. Movielinx is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with film. This month, to go along with the summer movie season, we'll be discussing comic books as they relate to film. Feel free to add your own comments or reviews regarding the ever-growing role of comic books in movies.

 


 

X-Men (2000)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $75 Million – Worldwide Gross: $296.3 Million – RT: 82% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2000: 1st out of 1
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 21st out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 9th out of 32

X-Men 2000

Before X-Men hit theaters in July of 2000, every Marvel movie ever made except for Blade had been a financial failure.  If Marvel wanted to get other film projects off the ground, X-Men had to work.  Marvel had been pushing to have it made since 1989, and had been through a whole series of scripts.  Budget issues were also a difficulty with 20th Century Fox being rightly worried about pouring too much into it, and in the end, many characters had to be cut out of the film.  Bryan Singer was brought onto the project in 1996, and he was ultimately the director who finally got X-Men onto theater screens four years later.  The film was Marvel’s first big success and exceeded expectations in the box office.  It proved that Marvel’s lesser known characters could pay off on screen and paved the way for the future of Marvel movies.

X-Men also deserves credit for being the first movie Stan Lee appeared in, as well as introducing Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine.

Lesson Learned: With the right people behind them, Marvel properties can make big money on screen.

Blade II (2002)
New Line Cinema – Budget: $54 Million – Worldwide Gross: $155 Million - RT: 59% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2002: 2nd out of 2
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 27th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 20th out of 32

blade2

After the success of the first Blade, a sequel was immediately discussed, but it took until 2002 for it to finally hit theaters.  While not making nearly as much in the box office as X-Men, Blade 2 was a success and earned more than the original.

Lesson Learned: Comic book sequels can be better than the original.

Spider-Man (2002)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $139 Million – Worldwide Gross: $821.7 Million - RT: 89% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2002: 1st out of 3
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 4th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 5th out of 32

SpiderMan 2002

X-Men may have opened the door for Marvel, but it was Spider-Man that set the bar sky high.  Like many Marvel properties, it had been in development hell for several years, but once X-Men was successful, Spider-Man was able to get a decent budget and truly get rolling.  When it released in May of 2002, it smashed the record for best opening weekend, becoming the first film ever to make it over $100 million in only a few days.  And Spider-Man didn’t stop there.  Praised by critics and viewers alike, Marvel’s flagship character went on to make over $800 million worldwide and seized the spot of 5th highest grossing movie of all-time in the box office.  Superheroes were no longer just fun action movies –Spider-Man proved they could be box office gold.

Lesson Learned: Done right, a superhero movie can be more than just profitable.  Superhero movies can make history.

Daredevil (2003)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $78 Million – Worldwide Gross: $179.2 Million - RT: 45% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2003: 3rd out of 4
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 26th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 23rd out of 32

Daredevil 2003

When Daredevil released, it too hit the #1 spot in the box office in its first week.  Unfortunately, critic reviews were harsh and the public ultimately showed that it agreed.  Daredevil dropped quickly in the box office.  Daredevil still doubled its budget though, and Marvel executive Avi Arad was quoted as saying, “we are five for five with record breaking box office successes.”  Daredevil may not have been anywhere near the resounding success of Spider-Man, but it still proved that heroes could make serious money.

Daredevil was also the first Marvel movie with a post-credit sequence.

Lesson Learned: Having one movie be successful in the box office does not mean it’s strong enough to start a franchise.

X2: X-Men United (2003)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $110 Million – Worldwide Gross: $407.7 Million - RT: 87% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2003: 2nd out of 5
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 16th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 8th out of 32

X2

With a considerably expanded budget, Bryan Singer returned to film a sequel to 2000’s X-Men.  Like its predecessor, X2 released to critical acclaim and this time Marvel claimed the record for the most theaters a movie opened in simultaneously.  Going on to earn more than triple its budget, X2 was another resounding success and earned considerably more than the original.  It proved that Marvel sequels could surpass their initial installments and that character growth over multiple films could be a successful business strategy.

Lesson Learned: People are interested in seeing characters they love continue to grow.

Hulk (2003)
Universal Pictures – Budget: $137 Million – Worldwide Gross: $245.4 Million - RT: 62% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2003: 4th out of 6
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 24th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 19th out of 32

Hulk

Hulk was Marvel’s first major disappointment since they had begun releasing movies more commonly with Blade in 1999.  With the highest budget for a Marvel film yet, a well-known and popular director, and a more mature story, expectations were high for Hulk to achieve great things.  Instead, Hulk opened with only $65 million and then set the record for the fastest box office drop off of any movie that premiered at over $20 million with a drop off rate of 70%.  It also became the largest opener ever not to have achieved $150 million domestically.  Ultimately, it did make back its budget, but it was a major blow to Marvel and the Hulk character.

Lesson Learned: Even with great people behind it, a movie can fail.  Superhero movies have to strike a careful balance to earn their audiences.

The Punisher (2004)
Artisan Entertainment- Budget: $33 Million – Worldwide Gross: $54.7 Million - RT: 29% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2004: 7th out of 7
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 31st out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 26th out of 32

The Punisher

Working with a smaller production company than those who had released Marvel movies previously, The Punisher was produced for a much lower budget than any other Marvel film.  Featuring an incredibly dark storyline, the film was critically panned and few people went to see it.  Still, it earned back its budget, and Marvel wasn’t hurt by the excursion.

Lesson Learned: Small side projects can make okay money, but darker hero movies are not what the general public wants.

Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $200 Million – Worldwide Gross: $783.8 Million - RT: 94% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2004: 2nd out of 8
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 5th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 1st out of 32

Spider Man 2

In 2004, Spider-Man once again proved himself on the big screen.  In six days, the movie earned over $180 million, breaking several box office records along the way.  As if that wasn’t enough, Spider-Man 2 also earned high praise from almost every critic and is still the Marvel film with the highest critical reviews.  It won the academy award for Best Effects, was nominated for two other academy awards, and set a new bar for what superhero movies should be, presenting a story that was both action packed and emotionally engaging.  Unfortunately for Marvel, due to their licensing deal with Sony, it’s believed that Marvel studios only earned about $62 million… from Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 combined.  Their characters were beginning to strike it big, but Marvel would have to re-think the way they approached things if they wanted more control and more income from their projects.

Lesson Learned: Superheroes combined with character growth, great action, and strong direction can create franchises that earn incredible amounts of money.  Be careful how deals are made if you want to see any profit.

Blade: Trinity (2004)
New Line Cinema – Budget: $65 Million – Worldwide Gross: $128.9 Million - RT: 26% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2003: 8th out of 9
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 29th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 29th out of 32

Blade Trinity

Hoping to continue the relative success of the first two Blade movies, Blade: Trinity ended up being a disappointment.  It grossed less than Blade 2 and just barely made over the gross of the original.  After its release, it was also involved in multiple lawsuits between the filmmakers and the actors.  Playing worse to both critics and audiences, Blade: Trinity proved that simply adding more is not necessarily better.  It did, however, include a post-credits sequence which was the first since Daredevil.

Lesson Learned: Two successful movies don’t guarantee a third.

Elektra (2005)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $43 Million – Worldwide Gross: $56.7 Million - RT: 10% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2005: 9th out of 10
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 30th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 32nd out of 32

Elektra

While not one of their most successful films, 20th Century Fox considered Daredevil successful enough to take a low budget risk on the spin-off film, Elektra.  It was the biggest failure of a Marvel film to date, netting less profit than even The Punisher and scoring abysmally with critics.  It was Marvel’s first attempt at creating a film from a side character from another movie and went so badly that no one tried again until Wolverine got his own solo movie in 2009.

Lesson Learned: Be careful with spin offs and don’t base them on movies that struggled in the first place.

Fantastic Four (2005)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $100 Million – Worldwide Gross: $330.6 Million - RT: 27% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2005: 4th out of 11
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 20th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 28th out of 32

Fantastic Four

In June of 2005, Marvel released Fantastic Four and strove for Box office success with another superhero team.  While Fantastic Four achieved box office success, it was critically panned and many fans were disappointed.  The age of special effects-laden action movies was clearly on the rise, but Marvel would have to do better if they truly wanted to build a universe the way they had in the comics or gain any real following for the Fantastic Four.  This year also saw the release of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, and for the first time, Marvel felt the pressure of another big-name superhero franchise.

Lesson Learned: It takes more than box office success to build a franchise and more than a generic story to build something like X-Men.

X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $210 Million – Worldwide Gross: $459.4 Million - RT: 57% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2006: 3rd out of 12
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 13th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 21st out of 32

X-Men The Last Stand

With several conflicts over the script and a change in director, X-Men: The Last Stand received the lowest critic reviews of any of the X-Men movies up to its release.  Still, the X-Men proved extremely financially fruitful and The Last Stand earned double its budget in the box office.

Lesson Learned: Build a big enough success and it can carry an average movie.  Characters can sometimes be more important than the film.

Ghost Rider (2007)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $110 Million – Worldwide Gross: $228.7 Million - RT: 26% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2007: 8th out of 13
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 25th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 30th out of 32

Ghost Rider

Like several of Marvel’s offerings to this point, Ghost Rider was a box office success but failed to garner positive reviews or much positive buzz from fans.

Lesson Learned: Fans expect more than just a witty character and some action.

Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $258 Million – Worldwide Gross: $890.9 Million - RT: 63% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2007: 1st out of 14
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 3rd out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 18th out of 32

Spider-Man 3

With the largest budget of any Marvel film ever, Spider-Man 3 was the culmination of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.  Marvel’s strategy of creating realistic and growing characters in their films had paid off in Spider-Man 2, and it did to an even larger extent in Spider-Man 3.  Public awareness of the movie was at an all-time high for any Marvel film up to this point, and it set the record for most theaters for a movie release even higher.  While it surpassed all expectations and became the highest grossing superhero movie ever (to that point) in the worldwide box office, it wasn’t as critically acclaimed as previous Spider-Man incarnations, and fans complained that it had too many villains and felt too unfocused. 

Lesson Learned: Franchises equal enormous profits, but bigger is not always better.

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $130 Million – Worldwide Gross: $289 Million - RT: 37% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2007: 8th out of 15
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 22nd out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 25th out of 32

Fantastic Four Rise

While achieving slightly better reviews than its predecessor, the second outing for the Fantastic Four helped prove to Marvel and the movie production companies they worked with that just because a movie was successful in the box office doesn’t mean people liked it enough to spend money on the sequel.  While not a box office bomb, Rise of the Silver Surfer didn’t achieve anywhere near the success that Marvel was hoping for.

Lesson Learned: Box office drop off is important to pay attention to when making a sequel.

Iron Man (2008)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $140 Million – Worldwide Gross: $585.2 Million - RT: 93% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2008: 4th out of 16
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 12th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 2nd out of 32

Iron Man

Iron Man marked a major turning point for Marvel.  Instead of licensing their character to another company, for the first time, Marvel financed their own film.  Possibly even more importantly, they had a plan for how they wanted their franchises to expand, and Iron Man would be a kick-off point for a cinematic universe much like what they had with comics.  Taking a lesser known character, Marvel introduced Iron Man to the world on April 14 of 2008 and achieved both box office and critical success.  While not earning as much as the movies in the Spider-Man franchise, Iron Man surpassed the X-Men movies and all other hero movies that came before it.  This time, Marvel received the mass share of the profits, and suddenly their vision of an interconnected universe could become a reality.

Post-credits sequences became very important with Iron Man, and it was the first time they began to hint at what was coming next.

Lesson Learned: Doing it yourself pays off.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $150 Million – Worldwide Gross: $263.4 Million - RT: 67% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2008: 10th out of 17
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 23rd out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 16th out of 32

The Incredible Hulk

Having purchased back the rights after the failure of the 2003 film, Marvel next turned its sights to a reboot of The Hulk.  Once again financing the film themselves, Marvel’s reboot met with far more success and positive reviews than the first attempt, but it still came nowhere close to being the success of films like Iron Man or Spider-Man.  It made its money back, but The Incredible Hulk never reached the popularity achieved by the rest of Marvel’s Phase 1 films.

Lesson Learned: We still don’t know how to connect The Hulk with audiences in a solo film.

Punisher: War Zone (2008)
Lionsgate Entertainment – Budget: $35 Million – Worldwide Gross: $10.1 Million - RT: 27% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2008: 18th out of 18
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 32nd out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 27th out of 32

Punisher War Zone

Due to solid DVD sales of the first Punisher film, Lionsgate and Marvel decided to team up again to put together a sequel.  Even with a slightly larger budget and utilizing Marvel’s new Marvel Knights brand which they intended to use for more adult-oriented films, The Punisher 2 struggled to find a script that worked and ultimately, the original actor dropped out of the film as well as several people who had been heavily involved.  In the end, the film fell to a new director and was released to worse reviews than the original and severe public indifference.  Warzone didn’t even come close to making its money back and the Punisher franchise was effectively ended.

Lesson Learned: Stick to the formula and do it right or don’t do it at all.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $150 Million – Worldwide Gross: $373.1 Million - RT: 38% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2009: 7th out of 19
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 17th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 24th out of 32

X-Men Origins

Over-complicated and underperforming for an X-Men movie, Origins set out to tell the story of Wolverine but ended up feeling more like X-men with a different set of characters and a convoluted plot.  Reviews weren’t good, and while most of the public still went on the momentum built by other hero films and the previous Marvel movies, many critics said that the X-Men franchise was barely limping along.  Coming out after The Dark Knight had set a new bar for hero films, Origins simply didn’t achieve the levels that had come to be expected.

Lesson Learned: When focusing on a single character, that character needs to truly be the focus.

Iron Man 2 (2010)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $200 Million – Worldwide Gross: $623.9 Million - RT: 73% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2010: 4th out of 20
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 11th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 14th out of 32

Iron Man 2

Still working off the principle that if the first movie is successful, the next should come out as soon as possible, Iron Man 2 was another box office success but didn’t achieve the critical acclaim of the original.  Marvel’s phase 1 was effectively underway though, and talk of The Avengers was beginning to spread.

Lesson Learned: There’s a careful balance of fun, action, and character that’s easy to miss by just a little bit.

Thor (2011)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $150 Million – Worldwide Gross: $449.3 Million - RT: 77% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2011: 7th out of 21
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 14th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 12th out of 32

Thor

Thor expanded Marvel’s franchise in important ways by showing that The Incredible Hulk was a fluke and that even without Spider-Man or the X-Men, Marvel still had popular characters in its stable.  Another big success that built toward The Avengers, Thor was the second character after Iron Man that would help Marvel’s empire rise to the forefront of filmmaking.

Lesson Learned: The formula works and can be tweaked to work with any strong character and even magic.

X-Men: First Class (2011)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $160 Million – Worldwide Gross: $353.6 Million - RT: 87% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2011: 10th out of 22
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 19th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 7th out of 32

X-Men First Class

X-Men: First Class was a breath of fresh air for the franchise and introduced many new elements that put the series back on its feet.  While critically successful, box office returns continued to lower for the franchise, but First Class was good enough to start getting people excited for a sequel again.

Lesson Learned: The public responds to new and creative approaches that still stay true to the characters.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $140 Million – Worldwide Gross: $370.6 Million - RT: 79% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2011: 10th out of 23
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 18th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 10th out of 32

Captain America

Another critical and commercial success, Captain America was the fifth film produced by Marvel Studios and finished off their build up to The Avengers.  Having struggled with Captain America films in the past, it must have been exciting for Marvel to see their patriotic hero finally get the movie and the audience he deserved.  By this point, Marvel had a set way of making movies and audiences were beginning to know exactly what to expect from Marvel films.

Lesson Learned: Giving each hero their own unique personality and growth works, even with a hero that has no darker edge.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $57 Million – Worldwide Gross: $132.6 Million - RT: 18% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2012: 20th out of 24
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 28th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 31st out of 32

Ghost Rider Spirit

Though it was a financial success, Spirit of Vengeance received abysmally low reviews and didn’t make nearly as much in the box office as its Marvel brothers and sisters.  Produced on a much lower budget than most Marvel films, Marvel and the production company couldn’t have expected it to do overly well.  With the completion of this film, Marvel regained the rights to Ghost Rider though they have no plans at this time for continuing the Ghost Rider franchise.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $220 Million – Worldwide Gross: $1,518.5 Million - RT: 92% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2012: 1st out of 25
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 1st out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 3rd out of 32

The Avengers

The Avengers hit in May of 2012 and changed everything.  This was the movie Marvel had been building towards, and director Joss Whedon knocked it out of the park.  Setting records for best opening weekend in North America and fastest rise to over $1 billion, The Avengers proved that Marvel’s strategy of building a universe truly worked and that people preferred to see movies that built towards something grand.  Finishing its run at a worldwide gross of $1,518,594,910, The Avengers shattered all expectations and became one of the highest grossing films of all time.  This immense success made other movie studios begin working on building universes and franchises of their own and put Marvel at the forefront of the industry.

Lesson Learned: Build the characters first and the team up movies can be something truly special.

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $230 Million – Worldwide Gross: $757.9 Million - RT: 73% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2012: 5th out of 26
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 6th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 13th out of 32

Amazing Spider Man

With a budget exceeded only by Spider-Man 3, Sony and Columbia pictures decided it was time to reboot the Spider-Man franchise and continue bringing in the immense amounts of income each Spider-Man film always delivered.  Following Marvel’s strategy, they increased their focus on creating characters and an expanding world with an eye towards where the franchise would go in the future.  Once again, a Spider-Man film was a resounding success.  While it didn’t make quite as much as the previous films, it still received many positive reviews and returned a huge profit.

Lesson Learned: Marvel’s Avengers strategy can be used for other franchises.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $200 Million – Worldwide Gross: $1,215.4 Million - RT: 78% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2013: 2nd out of 27
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 2nd out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 11th out of 32

Iron Man 3

With the massive success of The Avengers, Marvel’s characters were bigger than ever.  Expectations were high, and while for many Iron Man 3 wasn’t quite the movie they’d hoped for, it still raked in the dough.  Iron Man 3 doubled the income of any Iron Man film before it and cemented Marvel’s strategy.

Lesson Learned: After a solid team-up, incomes only get better.

The Wolverine (2013)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $120 Million – Worldwide Gross: $414.8 Million - RT: 69% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2013: 11th out of 28
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 15th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 15th out of 32

The Wolverine

Once again trying a solo film for The X-Men’s flagship character, 20th Century Fox rode the superhero wave generated by Marvel’s other films and delivered a strong, though not amazing, Wolverine adventure.  It performed well in the box office and became the second highest grossing X-Men film after The Last Stand

Lesson Learned: There’s interest for all of Marvel’s characters if they’re built right.

Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $170 Million – Worldwide Gross: $644.8 Million - RT: 65% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2013: 7th out of 29
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 10th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 17th out of 32

Thor Dark World

The 8th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor 2 once again proved that Marvel’s characters had gained immensely in popularity since The Avengers.  Audiences were buying in to the growing universe and interested in where Marvel took its properties next.  Considerably outperforming the original Thor, The Dark World didn’t receive amazing reviews, but audiences loved it.

Lesson Learned: The Marvel formula works and is still going strong.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Marvel Studios – Budget: $170 Million – Worldwide Gross: $710.7 Million (and growing) - RT: 89% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2014: 7th out of 30
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 7th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 6th out of 32

Captain America Winter

Praised for being more politically charged and relevant than most superhero films, The Winter Soldier also received great reviews for its more realistic feeling action and excellent sense of pace.  Audiences responded well, and though some critics complained of its predictability, The Winter Soldier became a great success for Marvel and is still earning more in theaters where it’s hanging on.

Lesson Learned: Marvel fans are beginning to look for more mature plotlines and grittier action.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Columbia Pictures – Budget: $255 Million – Worldwide Gross: $702.8 Million (and growing) - RT: 53% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2014: 8th out of 31
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 8th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 22nd out of 32

Amazing Spider Man 2

Continuing with their reboot of Spider-Man, Sony released The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and grossed the usual immense amount of money for any Spider-Man film.  This time around, the film was given mixed reviews by critics and a lukewarm reception by American audiences, but it still sold extremely well overseas.  Happy with the result, Sony is still working to build a cinematic universe around Spider-Man much like Marvel has with The Avengers.

Lesson Learned: Keep the characters strong and even when the rest of the movie is a little overstuffed, it should succeed.

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
20th Century Fox – Budget: $200 Million – Worldwide Gross: $692.8 Million (and growing) - RT: 92% Positive
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank in 2014: 9th out of 32
Marvel Worldwide Gross Rank Now: 9th out of 32
Overall Rotten Tomatoes Rank: 4th out of 32

X-Men Days

Combining the cast of the original X-Men trilogy with the cast from First Class, Days of Future Past seems to have taken all of Marvel’s lessons to heart and expanded on what made the early X-Men films great.  Pleasing crowds and critics alike, Days of Future Past has soared past the other X films and is still going strong in the box office. 

Lesson Learned: Yes.

Marvel Comics Characters

With these 32 films, Marvel grew from a studio film producers were hesitant to take a risk on into a behemoth that’s made more profit than any other film studio in history.  They have films planned out into the 2020s and so far, there’s no indication that they’ll be slowing down.  They’ve learned their lessons and grown with the times, and now they’ve set the model for what a franchise can be.  Join us next week for Marvel Changes Movies Part 3: Marvel’s Effect on the Industry where we’ll discuss just what Marvel’s caused and how the rest of the industry is reacting!

Let us know which Marvel films were game changers for you in the comments below!

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