To say that Marvel Studios’ outer space adventure Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t a sure bet would be an understatement. The movie stars a group of characters that virtually no one outside of hardcore Marvel comics enthusiasts had heard of, and while Gunn’s past movies like Slither and Super have found a fanbase, they can’t exactly be described as box office hits. Also, the best known actors in the movie play a CGI tree and a CGI raccoon.

Luckily, Guardians of the Galaxy proved to have an irresistible charm and released to a swathe of positive reviews and a strong opening weekend. Marvel was so confident in its potential, in fact, that Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was announced at Comic-Con before the first movie even made it into theaters. Throughout August, Guardians of the Galaxy has been enjoying a steady success, particularly at the domestic box office, and now it has edged its way past Marvel’s other major release of the year.

Box Office Mojo reports that Guardians of the Galaxy has now surpassed Captain America: The Winter Soldier at the domestic box office with a current gross of $262,142,000. Let’s repeat that: Guardians of the Galaxy proved to be more popular in America than Captain America. According to Variety, box office analysts expect Guardians of the Galaxy to tip over $300 million domestically within the next few weeks, becoming the first movie of the year to do so.

Don’t feel too bad for Steve Rogers; Captain America: The Winter Soldier still holds fourth place at the worldwide box office for 2014, taking in over $714 million compared to Guardians of the Galaxy‘s current count of just over $507 million. Since Guardians of the Galaxy‘s theatrical run isn’t over yet, however, the gap between the two will no doubt close even further over the next few weeks.

Between these two hits, it’s been a very good year for Marvel, but in a celebratory post on his Facebook page, Gunn insisted that there’s no ‘formula’ for Guardians of the Galaxy‘s success.

“To quote my favorite little monstrosity, ‘Oh… Yeah.’

“And although io9 may be right, that people like the movie because it’s funny, I like to believe it’s because WE GAVE A S**T. You aren’t numbers to us. You deserve to be given something we the creators believe in and that isn’t just seeking a big opening weekend. I love my characters, I care about the quality of the movie, and Marvel was cool enough to let us take some risks. Hopefully, THAT’S the lesson – that we’ll see more spectacle movies coming out of Hollywood that the filmmakers actually believe in, and that take risks, NOT just a bunch of superhero or space movies trying to be funny.”

The predictions for Guardians of the Galaxy definitely didn’t point towards the movie being a big hit, with io9, WhatCulture, CBM, HitFix and, yes, even Screen Rant questioning whether Gunn’s weird space opera would prove to be Marvel’s first flop after a six-year winning streak. Both the box office numbers and the critical response proved us wrong, and since the two are in such strong agreement, it could be the case that Marvel’s formula for success is just to keep making great movies.

Guardians of the Galaxy is in theaters now.

Source: Box Office Mojo