In the last nine years, no other franchise has been as successful as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They created an instant phenomenon in 2008 with the release of Jon Favreau's Iron Man, and while not every single project has been as successful as the last, they all arrived in theaters backed by healthy anticipation and positive buzz. And there is perhaps no better statistic that represents this victory streak than their list of number one hits, as Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok became the MCU's 17th film to top the box office in its opening weekend.
To date, every single Marvel Cinematic Universe title has crushed its competition in its first three days, with the newest Thor sequel being the latest and one of the greatest. According to Box Office Mojo, the new blockbuster managed to pull in an amazing $121 million in its first three days, which is enough to make it their seventh most successful opening yet. Despite coming out in the fall instead of the summer, Thor: Ragnarok still managed to outpace Spider-Man: Homecoming from this past July, and is now far and away the franchise's biggest November release (the other two being Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange and Alan Taylor's Thor: The Dark World).
1. The Avengers (2012) - $207,438,708
2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - $191,271,109
3. Captain America: Civil War (2016) - $179,139,142
4. Iron Man 3 (2013) - $174,144,585
5. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) - $146,510,104
6. Iron Man 2 (2010) - $128,122,480
7. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)- $121,005,000
8. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) - $117,027,503
9. Iron Man (2008) - $98,618,668
10. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) - $95,023,721
11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) - $94,320,883
12. Thor: The Dark World (2013) - $85,737,841
13. Doctor Strange (2016) - $85,058,311
14. Thor (2011) - $65,723,338
15. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) - $65,058,524
16. Ant-Man (2015) - $57,225,526
17. The Incredible Hulk (2008) - $55,414,050
The consistency of success for the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be attributed to many things, from the clear popularity of comic book movies, to the fact that they consistently play and experiment with genre, keeping things fresh. Probably the most significant, however, is the most obvious: quality. Some titles are certainly more loved than others, but every title arrived in theaters riding a wave of positive buzz from professional critics, and fans have consistently walked out of screenings satisfied with their experience. This has allowed Marvel to maintain an attitude of "just wait until you see what's next," and constantly perpetuate their own success.
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It's also worth noting that this streak of number one hits isn't likely to end any time soon -- and not only because all box office competition knows to be wary of the latest Marvel title. The studio has set up a stellar trio of blockbusters to release in 2018 -- including Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, Joe and Anthony Russo's The Avengers: Infinity War, and Peyton Reed's Ant-Man & The Wasp. Set to come out in February, May, and July, respectively, each title carries its own kind of anticipation, again, driven by everything we've seen before. Obviously 20 in a row would be a big deal -- and we're now likely just a few months away from seeing that happen.