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Captain America: The Winter Soldier Conquers April Record

Much like Steve Rogers himself, the Captain America franchise had a weak beginning. At least it was weak compared to the $98.6 million debut the Iron Man series had back in 2008. The second smallest opening weekend of Phase I (beaten only by The Incredible Hulk's $55.4 million), Captain America: The First Avenger was one of the films that Kevin Feige had to fight the hardest to get made, especially considering it was a 1940's adventure throwback. Well, it looks like Mr. Feige's faith and Joss Whedon's work as Marvel Cinematic Universe overlord have paid off in spades as The Hollywood Reporter is estimating that The Winter Soldier is the latest to reap the benefits of the Avengers bump, with a healthy $93 million weekend.

The latest film leading up to The Avengers: Age of Ultron was estimated to have made $37 million on Friday alone, and with its estimated $93 million well within reach, it will break the record for an April opening. 2011's Fast Five previously held the record for the best April weekend (with $86.2 mil.) as well as the best single day take for the month (with $34.4 mil.) Both records have now been shattered by everyone's favorite American and his Vibranium shield of Justice! CinemaScore also has the film rated at an A rating across all demographics.

For a franchise that seemed like it was going to be an uphill battle to sell, Captain America has come a long way from the total box office of its first installment, a decent $370.6 million. In fact, with International box office totals added in from an advanced release platform, the total gross so far is in the range of $270 - $300 million. A case could be made for this film's crown as "Most Improved Marvel Franchise," even surpassing Thor: The Dark World's opening weekend total of $85.7 million. (For reference, Thor opened with $65.7 million in 2011, putting it slightly ahead of The First Avenger.)

Perhaps the greatest victors of this result are directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who are only on their third film and their first Comic Book/Action film. From what people have seen so far, you can't tell that fact, as this has been hailed as one of the best (if not the best) Marvel movies ever made. Looks like the pressure is on not only for Captain America 3, but also Guardians of the Galaxy, which opens this August. Hopefully Marvel execs remember the lesson of Captain America, and realize that not every film is going to break records the first time around, but if you do that first one right... you'll probably get it the second time at bat.

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.