Marvel Studios has generated some of the highest-earning box office films since it began in 2008. The MCU in many ways rewrote the blockbuster during the 2010s, emphasizing an interconnected universe between each film.
Many studios have tried to copy this formula, from Warner Bros. and DC to Legendary Pictures and the MonsterVerse (Godzilla, Kong, etc).
None have gotten anywhere near the MCU in terms of keeping an audience on the hook for each and every one of its movies. Fans who don't miss a film were the most fulfilled when crossover events like Captain America: Civil War or Avengers: Endgame were released.
Fast-forward to 2022 and audience members are expected to keep up with seasons of Disney+ shows in an even wider universe. While Marvel Studios is no longer just a film studio, its box office potential is still the highest of any other distributor.
At San Diego Comic-Con 2022, Marvel CCO Kevin Feige confirmed six Phase 5 films, each primed for box office success.
Our earnings predictions go as follows:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Release Date: May 5, 2023
Domestic Total: $450 million
International Total: $600 million
Global Total: $1.05 billion
2014's Guardians of the Galaxy was a box office delight. A rag-tag space team of superheroes that most people hadn't heard of earned $333.7 million at the domestic box office.
This sparked a Guardians craze which lead to a successful sequel, appearances in two Avengers films, and a new rollercoaster at Disney World's EPCOT.
Guardians Vol. 3 will put a bow on writer/director James Gunn's trilogy after his trip with DC to produce The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker.
For all intents and purposes, this is the end of the Guardians in the MCU (at least the roster we know and love). It will be marketed as such, pulling on the heartstrings of fans and teasing one or more probable deaths.
Especially after a six-year gap between Vol. 2 and 3, theaters will fill to see how this nearly 10-year journey will come to an end.
Imagine telling someone 10 years ago that a Guardians of the Galaxy movie is going to gross $1 billion at the worldwide box office.
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Domestic Total: $380 million
International Total: $600 million
Global Total: $980 million
Lower, shorter, slower (slightly).
2019's Captain Marvel is one of the more interesting MCU films in terms of critical reviews, compared to box office performance.
Brie Larson's MCU debut isn't viewed as a beloved Marvel film, many fans rank it near the bottom of their evergrowing lists. However, Captain Marvel still grossed $1.1 billion at the box office.
$154 million of that total was from China (a swiftly shrinking box office market for US films), but new data shows the sequel could still be a major success.
According to David Herren of The Quorum, The Marvels has more interest than the likes of Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom, Ant-Man 3, Black Adam, and The Flash.
The July 28 spot in 2023 is wide open, with plenty of opportunities to have legs throughout August.
A new director (Nia DaCosta), a re-vamped cast with Iman Vellani (Ms. Marvel) and Teyonah Parris (Monia Rambeau), and a huge opportunity to expand the Cosmic Branch of the MCU all combine for huge monetary potential.
Captain America: New World Order
Release Date: May 3, 2024
Domestic Total: $390 million
International Total: $535 million
Global Total: $925 million
In case you forgot: Sam Wilson is Captain America.
Anthony Mackie's Cap is set to take over the full reigns of this franchise in its fourth installment.
Captain America: New World Order is slated for Marvel's prime early May slot (typically deemed the first summer blockbuster of the year). Not much else is known about the film besides Mackie starring in the titular role.
However, the Captain America brand has been a winner since 2014's The Winter Solider ($714.4 million globally). The grittier, more grounded section of the MCU is known for hard hits and some political-based storylines.
New World Order won't be the crossover event that Civil War was, but it could resemble Winter Solider's size and scale. The title seems to indicate a struggle for power and possibly where the Avengers fit into the world post-Endgame.
What may be most beneficial to this story is that it could play as a direct sequel to Civil War, Endgame, and The Falcon and The Winter Solider, while also getting audiences ready for the Thunderbolts and 2025's Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
"A few people have just as much power as an insane God or misguided teenager. The question you have to ask yourself is how are you going to use it?"
- Sam Wilson
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania
Release Date: February 17, 2023
Domestic Total: $320 million
International Total: $455 million
Global Total: $775 million
The Kang effect.
Feige and Marvel Studios implemented a smart business decision, tee up the big bad in the next Avengers film in a franchise that hasn't exactly owned the box office.
2015's Ant-Man and 2018's Ant-Man and The Wasp globally grossed $518.8 million and $623.1 million, respectively.
A hit? Sure. Marvel's prized possession? Not even close.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania will see the return of Jonathan Majors' Kang. First appearing in Loki's season finale, He Who Remains/Kang set the table for a wild multiversal ride the MCU has already begun.
Kang is the glue (or lack thereof) holding the Multiverse Saga together. Quantumania will surely accelerate his path to destruction and further the greater MCU storyline leading into 2025's The Kang Dynasty - a far cry from running away from Thomas the Tank Engine.
Rudd's third (and possibly final) Ant-Man film promises to have the most universe-effecting story, thereby could get more audience members interested in its events.
Release Date: July 26, 2024
Domestic Total: $310 million
International Total: $440 million
Global Total: $750 million
This is unquestionably the biggest box office wildcard on Marvel Studios Phase 5 slate.
On the surface, Thunderbolts will be referred to as "Marvel's Suicide Squad," which could be a positive or a negative depending on the person.
A well-developed anti-hero team could be big bucks for Marvel. The slow collection of "heroes" like Wyatt Russell's John Walker, Florence Pugh's Yelena Belova, and Daniel Brühl's Baron Zemo could create an eye-catching ensemble.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus's Val appears to be playing the Nick Fury role for the Thunderbolts, recruiting and motivating villains to fight an (unknown) bigger battle.
The full roster of characters rounding out the Thunderbolts will probably affect how many show up on the opening night. Pugh is a solid headliner, but more star power or well-known MCU characters may be needed to sniff $1 billion.
Release Date: November 3, 2023
Domestic Total: $330 million
International Total: $360 million
Global Total: $690 million
A PG-13 rating is most likely for Mahershala Ali's Blade, but a surprise R rating would shake up its expectations.
The vampire-killing hero will probably be joined by Kit Harington's Black Knight (after being teased in the Eternals post-credit scene).
A timely Fall release fits brilliantly for a vampire-filled flick right after Halloween. However, this is a new character to the MCU and rarely do the first films gross top-end earnings.
The quality will probably hold a major weight on its performance and could retest how interested moviegoing audiences are in vampire stories.
Honorable Mention: Deadpool 3
Release Date (Unofficial): February 16, 2024
Domestic Total: $365 million
International Total: $400 million
Global Total: $765 million
While not officially announced, the missing February 16, 2024 release date is most likely where Ryan Reynold returns as Wade Wilson.
The big debate is whether or not Disney will actually allow Deadpool 3 to be an R-rated feature film under the Marvel Studios banner.
Under 20th Century Fox, Deadpool proved to be a money-making franchise, grossing over $1.5 billion between both films globally.
This prediction may end up being on the low-end, but there are currently too many question marks to predict anything above $800 million globally.