Since Iron Man was released in 2008, the Marvel films have taken on a life of their own. In less than a decade, they’ve become the highest grossing franchise of all-time, beating Star Wars, James Bond, and Harry Potter. The Marvel films have spanned a wide range of genres from political thriller to heist movie all with varying results. Here’s how all 12 Marvel films stack up at the box office.
The Incredible Hulk ($263,427,551)
The Incredible Hulk is probably the most overlooked Marvel film, mainly because Marvel changed actors before The Avengers. The original Hulk, Edward Norton, was actually cast as Bruce Banner based on the recommendation of Lou Ferrigno (who played the original, original Incredible Hulk). According to Ferrigno, Norton reminded him of Bill Bixby, his co-star in The Incredible Hulk TV series. Director Louis Leterrier actually wanted to cast Mark Ruffalo in the role, however Marvel took Ferrigno's advice and cast Norton. Ruffalo would later go on to replace Norton in The Avengers.
Captain America: The First Avenger ($370,569,774)
Captain America's debut film was given the subtitle The First Avenger because Marvel was unsure if they could market the movie overseas with the title Captain America. Today, Chris Evansis Captain America, but the actor was originally reluctant to accept the role. Evans declined the part three times before Robert Downey Jr. convinced him to meet with the film's producers. Evans was afraid of what such a high profile role would do to his career as well as his private life. However after the meeting, Evans signed on to the role.
Originally Tom Hiddleston auditioned for the role of Thor, however director Kenneth Branagh thought he would make a much better Loki. When it came down to casting the God of Thunder, the final choice was between brothers Chris and Liam Hemsworth. Chris claims he was rooting for Liam (which is easy to say after you've got the part) and actually found the whole experience funny, "We both came all the way over here from Australia and ended up battling against each other."
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The movie was initially meant to follow the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas in the film). However, the studio was concern about Pym's less than family-friendly history (which included several incidents of domestic violence) so they decided to use his successor Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as the main character. In order to prepare for his role as Ant-Man, Paul Rudd actually bought an ant farm and studied how they worked together. After the movie wrapped, Rudd had grown to love the ants so much, he actually brought them home with him.
Iron Man ($585,174,222)
In many ways, Robert Downy Jr. is the face that launched a thousand ships. His role as Tony Stark was perfectly cast, kicking off the franchise and resurrecting his career. Director Jon Favreaubelieves it's Downey's troubled past that led him to be perfect for the role, "The best and worst moments of Robert's life have been in the public eye. He had to find an inner balance to overcome obstacles that went far beyond his career. That's Tony Stark. Robert brings a depth that goes beyond a comic book character having trouble in high school, or can't get the girl."
Iron Man 2 ($623,933,331)
After the success of the original Iron Man, director Jon Favreaurealized he needed to create more advanced technology and establish a more futuristic world in the sequel in order to keep up with expectations, "After the first film (Iron Man (2008)), a number of tech companies talked about how uncanny a lot of our depictions of technology had turned out to be, and how many different films and videogames ended up being inspired by the imagery we used. This forced us to go a bit further into the future and try and change the nature of this technology; if we'd just duplicated what happened in the first one we would be behind the curve. So now we're dealing with holograms, the interface within the suit and the suit being upgraded too."
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Thor: The Dark World ($644,602,516)
Originally, Tom Hiddleston's Loki was not meant to appear in the film at all. Instead, the movie was going to focus on Malekith and the Dark Elves. However, after Hiddleston's breakout performance in The Avengers, he was written into the script.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($714,421,503)
To prepare for his role as the Winter Soldier, Sebastian Stan didn't just hit the gym, he hit the books as well. He spent five months performing historical research for the role, "I dove into the whole Cold War history: I looked at the KGB. I looked at all kinds of spy movies, and all kinds of documentaries about that time, and what it was about. I grabbed anything from that time period and anything about brainwashing."
Guardians of the Galaxy ($773,312,399)
Among the cast of misfits, the lovable Groot stood out as the breakout character in a movie full of breakout characters. Vin Diesel reportedly recorded the line "I am Groot" over 1,000 times including Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and French versions of the dialogue. According to Diesel, his role in the movie helped him come to terms with the loss of his friend and Fast and Furious co-star Paul Walker, "It was the first time I came back to dealing with human beings after dealing with death, so playing a character who celebrates life in the way Groot does was very nice."
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Iron Man 3 ($1,215,439,994)
At the time of its release, Iron Man 3 was the first standalone Marvel film to gross over $1 billion and only the second overall, behind The Avengers. The movie was originally given a $140 million budget, however after the success of The Avengers, Marvel increased the total budget to $200 million. That wasn't the only major change though. The first cut of the movie was over 3 hours long, but the final version of the film was trimmed down to less than 2.
Avengers: Age Of Ultron ($1,405,413,868)
One of the trademarks of the Marvel franchise is perfect casting choices. When it came to cast Ultron, Joss Whedon has said that James Spader was his first and only choice because of his "hypnotic voice that can be eerily calm and compelling while also being very human and humorous." However, the actor wasn't exactly perfect. Spader is about 3 feet shorter than Ultron so while filming, he had to wear a pair of antennae on his head so the other actors would have a reference point for his eyes.
The Avengers ($1,519,557,910)
The Avengers was a box office phenomenon. At the time of its release, The Avengers was the third highest grossing film of all-time and the record holder for the largest opening weekend ever. The movie's success is largely due to the chemistry between the actors which comes from their real life friendship. One day on set, Chris Evans sent a group text to his fellow Avengers that simply read "Assemble".