Despite being panned by critics and fans alike, director Ang Lee’s telling of comic book anti-hero The Hulk pulled in over $62 million it’s opening weekend in June 2003. Starring Eric Bana as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, the film went on to earn $132,177,234 domestically and an additional $113,183,246 internationally, bringing it’s worldwide box office tally over $245 million.
With the original film considered a “flop” due to its bad reviews and muddled storyline, Marvel took five years of planning to reboot the franchise with a new star (Edward Norton) and director (Louis Leterrier). The end product saw slightly better results ($263 million worldwide) and reviews.
The true tent pole of The Avengers franchise is the original Iron Man film, starring Robert Downey, Jr. as billionaire playboy Tony Starks/Iron Man. The film provided a resurgence of Downey’s career and fans’ hope for a superhero super-movie on the horizon. Also starring Terrence Howard, Iron Man made a whopping $318,412,101 domestically and an additional $266,762,121 internationally, bringing the film’s total haul to over $585 million.
Proving it was no fluke, Iron Man 2 opened with an impressive $128,122,480 its opening weekend in May 2010. When the dust settled, Downey and director Jon Favreau eclipsed their previous work, pulling in a worldwide box office draw of over $623 million.
While Iron man was living up to his name at the box office, The Avengers needed more than one star to be a success. Chris Hemsworth filled in nicely as the god of thunder Thor. The Kenneth Branagh-directed film opened strong with $65,723,338 its first weekend and went on to $181,030,624 domestically and an additional $268,295,994 in international ticket sales. The worldwide box office draw wound up at almost $450 million.
Rounding up the prequel films was director Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Starring Chris Evans as the WWII super soldier who gets suspended in time, the film grossed $176,654,505 domestically and an additional $191,953,858 internationally, bringing the worldwide box office number to over $368 million.