At the turn of the century, the idea of Marvel, to that point a perpetual also-ran at the box office, being a force in movies was a bit of a joke. Sure, X-Men was awesome, but this was Marvel. Before the mutants went to Fox, and Time Warner (the owners of DC) salvaged Blade in 1998, the most widely distributed Marvel movie was Howard The Duck. Even if Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man sounded amazing, the idea that Marvel could dominate the world box office was little more than a dream. Fast forward a decade plus, though, and how things have changed.
So far in 2018, Marvel has taken the top three movies at the box office. Avengers: Infinity War has officially racked up $2 billion, only the fourth movie to ever pull that it off. It may, with a little luck, even beat out Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘ record-breaking numbers, although James Cameron’s control of the top two slots with Titanic and Avatar is safe. Black Panther, at $1.34 billion, may be even more of a phenomenon, considering it was a solo outing largely unconnected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, beyond a nod to Captain America: Civil War. And bringing up the rear at third is Deadpool 2, which is currently at $655 million at the box office. The only real competitor for third would be Ready Player One, with $580 million, but Wade Wilson can only widen his lead. Just for a little contrast, Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion back in 2009, and just the raw box office here is $4 billion.
And that’s before Ant-Man And The Wasp arrives in July, although it’s probably not going to do Black Panther money, unless they finally give us the giant nude Paul Rudd we’ve been clamoring for.
The main question, of course, is whether Marvel can keep the top of the box office, since The Incredibles 2 and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom both look to be global box office contenders. But one way or the other, 2018 is decidedly the year of the superhero at the box office. Meanwhile DC’s hopes for a good year rest almost entirely on Aquaman. Hey, it worked on Entourage!