Every Phase of the MCU Has Been Better Than the Last

The Marvel Cinematic Universe only continues to improve upon itself, with the numbers proving that each Phase is better than the last. Marvel Studios is in the midst of celebrating 10 years of the MCU, and the box office receipts for Avengers: Infinity War give them plenty of reasons to celebrate. After all of this buildup, their nineteenth movie is the biggest of them all. The box office total of the culmination (or at least Part 1 of it) is one thing, but the shared universe is even improving when it comes to how well their movies are being received; from Phase One to Phase Two and now into Phase Three, the MCU only continues to get better reviews and earn more at the box office as a result.

Phase One consisted of just six films. Starting with Iron Man in 2008, Marvel Studios released The Incredible HulkIron Man 2Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger in the lead up to their big moment. This all culminated in 2012 with The Avengers. Since these films were in the early days of the MCU that featured its stars playing lesser known characters at the time, its no surprise that Phase One stacks up as the "least successful" - even if everything that came after was only made possible by it. The six movies on average have a 80.3% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and come in just slightly below with a 79.2% average from audiences. Metacritic meanwhile averages out to a 64.8 score. The box office for all these movies averages $635.2 million, but they hold a hefty $3.81 billion total, thanks in large part to The Avengers's then record-setting run.

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Phase Two also held six movies, and many were directly affected by following in the footsteps of The Avengers. It began with Iron Man 3 and was followed by Thor: The Dark WorldCaptain America: The Winter SoldierGuardians of the GalaxyAvengers: Age of Ultron, and Ant-Man. Despite this being where Marvel's "dominance" became a cultural discussion, the critical reception didn't receive a massive leap: 80.5% on Rotten Tomatoes and 65.2 on Metacritic. Audiences, though, responded very favorably to what Marvel Studios was doing; the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes went up to 84.7% on average and directly correlates to how well they performed at the theater. These movies averaged a worldwide haul of $878.6M and the grand total for the Phase ballooned up to $5.27B, which was made possible by Marvel scoring two movies that topped the coveted $1B mark.

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To this point, Phase Three has already released seven movies: Captain America: Civil WarDoctor StrangeGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Spider-Man: HomecomingThor: RagnarokBlack Panther, and now Avengers: Infinity War. With production increasing to three movies released a year, everything has accelerated, including the success. Critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes have skyrocketed to 89.6% on average, as did Metacritic's score to 73.9. The audience RT score jumped up to 87% too. Thanks to great reviews and word of mouth, the MCU has never been mightier at the box office than right now; the seven films average $1.05B with a collective gross of $7.38B worldwide - including three $1B films.

The tallies for Phase Three are only going to increase in the coming weeks. Both Black Panther and Infinity War are still making plenty of money on a weekly basis. But, all of the figures will fluctuate more in the coming year as there are still three (or four) films left. The next will be Ant-Man and The Wasp this summer, followed by Captain Marvel next spring, and then Avengers 4 to kick off the summer. There's also the Untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming Sequel that could be part of Phase Three or the start of Phase Four. Barring a major whiff by Marvel, Phase Three should still be their biggest yet when the dust settles.

Whether or not the MCU is constantly improving is in many ways down to the eye of the beholder, but these numbers don't lie. Like it or not, Marvel Studios has their formula to make movies perfected and with these results, its difficult to argue why they should switch things up.

MORE: The MCU's Biggest Course Corrections

Key Release Dates
  • Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018) release date: Jul 06, 2018
  • Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
  • The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019
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