It's no secret that Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a huge success. That became especially clear when 2012's The Avengers grossed a whopping $1.519 billion. With that film, the MCU took things to the next level. Phase 2 improved upon Phase 1's popularity, which each entry surpassing $500 million at the box office.
Phase 2 officially let the world know that the MCU was an unstoppable juggernaut. Even the films that most people thought would bomb turned out to be smash hits. Below, you'll find all six MCU films from Phase 2, ranked by how much money they grossed at the worldwide box office.
6 Ant-Man - $519.3 Million
The final film in Phase 2, released on July 17, 2015, was also the one that grossed the least. It was still a huge success, taking in $519.3 million on a reported $169.3 million budget. Ant-Man was one of those movies that didn't seem like it would be a hit. The character isn't one of the most popular and his powers can come across as kind of a joke. Then, the production also suffered when director Edgar Wright dropped out due to creative differences.
All signs pointed to the MCU's first bomb. Instead, Ant-Man pleased audiences. Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas formed a formidable trio with a great rapport. We loved watching Scott Lang take over the mantle of Ant-Man as he attempted to thwart the villainous Darren Cross from using the shrinking technology for evil purposes. It was family-friendly, had just enough MCU connections to feel important, and was led by some creative special effects.
5 Thor: The Dark World - $644.6 Million
The majority of MCU fans seem to agree on one thing. Thor: The Dark World is the worst installment of the franchise. That being said, it isn't a bad movie. It still has a certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. It just had a generic plot and a villain, Malekith, who didn't make an impact. Following a scene-stealing performance as the villain in The Avengers, Tom Hiddleston's Loki was given a bigger role in this sequel, which came out on November 8, 2013.
Combine that with the awesome Chris Hemsworth and the popularity of the Thor character and you can see why this did well at the box office. Thor: The Dark World grossed $644.6 million on a $170 million budget. It improved on the intake from the first film but sits behind the next installment, Thor: Ragnarok, which revamped the series completely.
4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $714.3 Million
Captain America: The First Avenger could be considered one of the bigger disappointments of the entire MCU. It made just $370 million, which didn't make it a bomb but was less than expected for such a pivotal member of the Avengers. Things got fixed with 2014's sequel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On a $170 million budget, this one raked in $714.3 million after it arrived on April 4, 2014.
For many, Captain America: The Winter Soldier ranks among the best MCU movies in history. It is both a superhero film and a spy thriller. This introduced Sam Wilson to the MCU, brought Bucky Barnes back into the fold, and strengthen the relationships between characters like Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff. On top of all of that, this changed the entire landscape of the MCU by revealing that Hydra had infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. It was also the first Marvel movie directed by the Russo Brothers, who went on to helm three more.
3 Guardians Of The Galaxy - $773.3 Million
While some people assumed Ant-Man wouldn't be a hit, this was the project that was expected to be a swing and a miss for Marvel. The Guardians of the Galaxy barely registered among even the most diehard comic book fans. A film about a talking tree, genetically modified raccoon, and a ragtag group of outlaws in space didn't sound like it would appeal to the masses.
Everyone was wrong. Unexpectedly, Guardians of the Galaxy, which premiered on August 1, 2014, became an incredible success. On a $170 million budget, it amassed $773.3 million. Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Nebula, and Groot became household names and are now some of the most popular characters in the MCU. This film was also a commercial hit and is beloved by most moviegoers. In addition to those things, this movie gave audiences their first true look at Thanos, who would go on to be the biggest bad guy of them all in this series.
2 Iron Man 3 - $1.215 Billion
Robert Downey Jr. is a rockstar. When he stars in an MCU film as Tony Stark, it makes a ton of movie. Like, more money than the ones that don't feature him. In The Avengers, Tony nearly died making the sacrifice play to keep the world safe from an alien invasion. Iron Man 3 was a direct follow-up that saw Tony deal with the post-traumatic stress disorder from that event.
Released on May 3, 2013, Iron Man 3 featured Tony Stark's most famous nemesis, the Mandarin. However, this film pulled a bait and switch with the character that left a mixed response with a lot of viewers. And there were plenty of viewers, as this $200 million grossed $1.215 billion in theaters. That made it the first standalone MCU movie to cross the billion dollar mark. It proved that the MCU didn't need a massive tandem story filled with multiple superheroes to reach that level.
1 Avengers: Age Of Ultron - $1.405 Billion
Of course, having a bunch of superheroes team-up is still the best way to make a ton of money. Avengers: Age of Ultron took what made 2012's The Avengers a hit and built upon it. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye were joined by new characters like Quicksilver, Vision, and Scarlet Witch. The team joined together to face a highly advanced A.I. with a god complex named Ultron. Voiced impeccably by James Spader, Ultron had dreams of eradicating humans.
While this is widely considered to be the weakest of the four Avengers movies, it did a ton to set up the future of the MCU. The new characters mostly stuck around, Hulk disappeared for several years, Hawkeye retired, and the Infinity Stones were showcased. Avengers: Age of Ultron hit theaters on May 1, 2015 and grossed $1.405 billion on a $250 million budget.