New Data Reveals Marvel's Most Successful Movie of 2022

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Doctor Strange, Thor, Black Panther, Marvel Studios

New data revealed which of Marvel Studios' three 2022 films was the most successful and brought home the most money for Disney.

The MCU had a huge year of sequels in 2022, delivering three huge blockbusters in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

This came after a year of box office struggles for Marvel Studios as Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eternals had to face the pandemic hurdle. Those troubles came to an end in December 2021 with the record-breaking Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Which MCU Movie Was Most Profitable in 2022?

Through its multi-article "2022 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament," Deadline shared the profit and loss data for last year's biggest superhero movies, including all three of Marvel Studios' releases - Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

Worldwide Box Office

Looking at the box office figures for the three, Doctor Strange 2 came out on top by a wide margin, falling just short of the $1 billion mark, while Thor 4 came out of the year with the lowest worldwide total after its July release:

  • Doctor Strange 2 - $955.7 million
  • Thor 4 - $760.9 million
  • Black Panther 2 - $859 million

Total Revenue

After the theaters took their cuts of the box office totals and home entertainment, streaming, and television figures were added on, the total revenue taken became far closer between Multiverse of Madness and Wakanda Forever, although Love and Thunder continued to lag behind:

  • Doctor Strange 2 - $780 million
  • Thor 4 - $650 million
  • Black Panther 2 - $750 million

Total Costs

Despite taking home the lowest box office and revenue, Thor 4 surprisingly had the highest budget of the bunch, with Marvel Studios having splashed out more in terms of production costs, marketing, and most other areas. Meanwhile, Doctor Strange 2 and Black Panther 2 floated around a similar level:

  • Doctor Strange 2 - $496 million
  • Thor 4 - $547 million
  • Black Panther 2 - $491 million

Net Profit

Ultimately, movie studios are businesses looking to make money, so determining the MCU's biggest success in 2022 comes down to which took home the highest profit once the total costs were subtracted from the total revenue:

  • Doctor Strange 2 - $284 million
  • Thor 4 - $103 million
  • Black Panther 2 - $259 million

Having taken home the highest profit at $284 million, Multiverse of Madness was the MCU's biggest success of 2022. This comes as no big surprise given the anticipation that surrounded it and all its Multiversal surprises which led to an extremely impressive box office haul.

A full comparison of the profit, expenses, revenue, and box office of the MCU's 2022 movies can be seen below:

2022 Marvel Movies Profit and Loss Comparison Graph
The Direct

Did Marvel Beat DC in 2022?

DC had two major live-action movies to offer in 2022, Black Adam and The Batman, so how did they stack up against the three films from the more firmly established and renowned MCU?

Well, Robert Pattinson's The Batman came out of the March box office with $770.9M, $635M in total revenue, $458M in expenses, and a resultant profit of $177M. This amounts to a similar haul to Marvel's lowest of the year, Thor 4, but with a $74M jump in take-home profits due to its $99M lower budget.

Dwayne Johnson's Black Adam, unfortunately, proved to be far less of a hit for DC, taking home just $390M from the box office and the same in total revenue. As the movie was made on an arguably excessive budget of $195M and had $338M in total costs, the flick took home just $52M in profit.

So, the bottom line is that Marvel undeniably outperformed DC in 2022 - although the profit and loss figures are, unfortunately, not available for Sony's Morbius or DC's League of Super-Pets.

Proof the MCU Was as Successful as Ever in 2022

Marvel Studios, MCU
The Direct

Many have recently been quick to say the MCU is on the decline. But comparing 2022's MCU box office totals to 2017 (the last pre-pandemic year with no Avengers blockbuster), the total box office for both sits around $2.6B, while last year significantly exceeded 2017 in profit with $646M compared to $529M. So, clearly, the numbers indicate the MCU hasn't actually seen any decline in interest.

2017 generally serves as a valid comparison to 2022 to understand how interest in the MCU changed over the years. Both contained a Thor sequel (Ragnarok and Love and Thunder), a sequel to a popular movie (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Black Panther 2), and a film with a familiar face (Spider-Man: Homecoming and Doctor Strange 2).

How Did the MCU's 2022 Sequels Perform Against Their Predecessors?

Black Panther, Thor, Doctor Strange
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Between Thor 4's lower box office and higher costs, the sequel came out with far lower profit than the MCU's other 2022 movies at just $103M. This also comes as a drop from the $174M profit of 2018's Thor: Ragnarok, largely due to Love and Thunder's $78M cost increase from $469M to $547M.

Multiverse of Madness on the other hand managed to more than double the $122M profit of Doctor Strange, shooting up to $284M profit. With an extra $278M at the box office, even the $93M jump in costs wasn't enough to stop the Multiversal event from going above and beyond its solo origin predecessor.

On the other end of the spectrum, as expected, Wakanda Forever took a dive down to $259M from the $476M of Black Panther. Although that's not to say the sequel wasn't a huge hit, just that it wasn't the historic record-breaker that the original was, as that managed to gross an insane $1.35B at the box office.

Only time will tell how 2023 serves as a follow-up to Marvel Studios' successful 2022, although things are off to a rough start with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. The MCU's next move is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 which hits theaters on Friday, May 5 - or slightly earlier for those in select territories.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.