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Lowest Grossing MCU Movies At The Box Office

Highlights

  • Not every MCU movie is a box office juggernaut – some don’t even cover their budget, despite being popular with fans.
  • Superhero fatigue and bad timing can contribute to even well-received MCU movies being among the least profitable.
  • Despite their low box office gross, some MCU movies, like “The Marvels,” still struggle to find their fanbase in the vast MCU universe.

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With a huge fictional movie universe such as the MCU, it would be easy to think that each film turns out to be a hit. That’s not quite the case. Pre-Endgame, no MCU movie failed to cover its budget (and bring in extra money), some of them weren’t nearly as profitable as the audience could assume.

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And this doesn’t happen only with older MCU movies but also the newer ones. Interestingly enough, a movie’s box office gross doesn’t always reflect its overall quality. Sometimes it’s just a question of bad circumstances. Whatever the cause, the least profitable MCU movies are still popular among many fans who like to return to them to this day.

Updated on April 3, 2024, by Jake Fillery: Whilst audiences are in the midst of the superhero fatigue that has hit both Marvel and DC properties, it’s a good time to look back at some of the MCU’s lowest grossing movies. Whilst successful critically or not, these MCU movies have ranked lowest in terms of box office. While audiences await Deadpool & Wolverine to see if the MCU has what it takes to come back from a new box office low, these MCU movies with the worst box office might provide a sensible guideline for the direction of the MCU as of late.

22 The Marvels

Worldwide Gross: $206 Million

The Marvels Test Screening Reactions Reshoots

  • Release Date: November, 2023
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%
  • MCU Release Order: 33rd movie
  • Estimated Budget: $274.8 million

By far the lowest gross of an MCU movie, and the most recent, The Marvels failed to find an audience, and begs the question of whether or not the MCU is on its last legs. Despite the premise of the film featuring Carol Danvers, Mala Khan, and Monica Rambeau teaming up to save the universe with their powers, the movie just didn’t impress at the box office, and definitely did not make back its budget, potentially providing the MCU with its first actual flop.

This could be thanks to superhero fatigue or fans’ lack of interest in this trio of characters. The MCU has been struggling as of late to find its fanbase, as most of their most iconic characters have since been retired or killed after Avengers: Endgame. Considering the MCU’s lowest gross just so happens to be years after their very best with Avengers: Endgame, it might have Marvel Studios worried, as it holds the title of the lowest-grossing Marvel movie.

21 The Incredible Hulk

Worldwide Gross: $264 Million

The Hulk rips a car in half in The Incredible Hulk

  • Release Date: June, 2008
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
  • MCU Release Order: 2nd movie
  • Estimated Budget: $150 million

The Incredible Hulk is the one MCU movie many people forget actually belongs to the cinematic universe. If it wasn’t for the presence of General Ross and a brief cameo from Tony Stark in the post-credit scene, it might have as well been a completely separate movie.

One of the reasons is that Edward Norton played Bruce Banner in the movie and Mark Ruffalo only later took on the role of Hulk for Avengers (2012). The movie cost an estimated $150 million and made only slightly more, which explains why there hasn’t been another Hulk solo movie ever since.

20 Captain America: The First Avenger

Worldwide Gross: $370 Million

Captain-America-The-First-Avenger-Steve-and-Bucky

  • Release Date: July, 2011
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%
  • MCU Release Order: 5th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $149 million

No matter what Marvel fans think about Steve Rogers and his often no-nonsense character, the MCU wouldn’t be what it is without Captain America. Yet, box office considered, Captain America’s first solo adventure also seems to be the weakest one.

Perhaps it’s because it once again has very little connection to the present world as about 99 percent of it takes place during World War Two. It does help to provide the background of Steve Rogers, though, and it costs even less to make than other MCU movies, only $140 million.

19 Black Widow

Worldwide Gross: $379 Million

Black Widow shooting rifle Scarlett Johansson

  • Release Date: July, 2021
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%
  • MCU Release Order: 24th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $288.5 million

Black Widow‘s box office gross is the ultimate proof that sometimes movies come at a bad time. Had it premiered a few years back, before the pandemic and Captain Marvel’s release, it’s likely it would have been much more profitable. However, the movie’s release was badly timed. Some fans also felt that Natasha Romanoff deserved her solo movie much earlier, not after her death in the MCU.

Finally, Black Widow isn’t even technically Natasha’s solo movie as it gives a considerable amount of space to Yelena Belova who replaced Natasha in the MCU. All of these aspects influenced the fact that the movie made only $379 million with a $200 million budget, in part due to its release on Disney Plus and fans’ lack of desire to get back to the movies straight away.

18 Eternals

Worldwide Gross: $402 Million

Eternals Cropped

  • Release Date: November, 2021
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 47%
  • MCU Release Order: 26th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $236.2 million

The Eternals did not break the established MCU records or reach the $1 billion threshold that many previous MCU movies crossed, even if it was one of their boldest movies from Chloe Zhao, and featured a new direction for the franchise since Avengers: Endgame.

Once again, it’s probable the timing of its release negatively influenced the success of the movie. Another reason for Eternals not hitting even the half-a-million mark could be that the general audience doesn’t know the heroes very well, unlike Spider-Man or other well-established characters.

17 Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings

Worldwide Gross: $432 Million

Shang-Chi

  • Release Date: September, 2021
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
  • MCU Release Order: 25th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $150 million

2021 wasn’t a good year for the MCU movies profit-wise. At least until Spider-Man: No Way Home came along and changed things. Shang-Chi got positive reviews from the many people who saw it, but a lot of the viewers were scared to go into cinemas because of the pandemic.

Unlike Spider-Man, Shang-Chi’s lower box office gross can be also explained by the fact that Shang-Chi isn’t as well-known, and he usually plays a supporting part in the comics.

16 Thor

Worldwide Gross: $449 Million

Thor 2011

  • Release Date: April, 2011
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%
  • MCU Release Order: 4th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $150 million

The first Thor solo movie is close to a Shakespearean drama, albeit one set in a fantasy world. It primarily focuses on the conflict between Thor, Loki, and their father Odin as well as Loki’s attempt to get control over Asgard. The movie dipped a toe into the cosmic, and the confusing appearance of bleached eyebrows Chris Hemsworth.

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The movie’s still captivating to this day thanks to the excellent acting performances, but it doesn’t feel as connected to the rest of the MCU universe as it once was. Its $150 million budget earned a solid profit but other Thor movies did better at the box office.

15 Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania

Worldwide Gross: $476 Million

An Image of Ant-Man and his partner

  • Release Date: February, 2023
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 46%
  • MCU Release Order: 31st movie
  • Estimated Budget: $200 million

After the box office results of the two previous Ant-Man (and Wasp) movies, probably nobody expected that the third installment would earn as much as the most profitable MCU movies. But Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania surprised even the most skeptical viewers – and not in a good way. The movie cost 200 million dollars to make and earned just $476 million, still enough to pay itself but not much more.

As for the cause of its lack of financial success, either the fans are getting tired of Ant-Man or the movie’s story failed to captivate them as much as other MCU movies… which, considering the MCU’s overall quality, doesn’t necessarily make Quantumania a bad movie, but the reliance on CGI and a lackluster overarching MCU villain like Kang just wasn’t enough to fill seats.

14 Ant-Man

Worldwide Gross: $519 Million

Ant-Man Falcon fight

  • Release Date: July, 2015
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
  • MCU Release Order: 12th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $130 million

With only a $130 million budget, Ant-Man was profiled from the start as a smaller, more down-to-earth MCU movie. His box office gross fits the description. While the movie managed to entertain the audiences and introduced a very sympathetic hero, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang, the story’s stakes were pretty low in comparison to other movies, yet it still works even for a re-watch.

Then again, not every MCU movie has to focus on saving the entire world or even the universe. Ant-Man would go on to play a more prominent part in the MCU because it was thanks to him that the Avengers were able to travel in time and reverse the snap.

13 Iron Man

Worldwide Gross: $585 Million

iron man 2008

  • Release Date: May, 2008
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%
  • MCU Release Order: 1st movie
  • Estimated Budget: $140 million

Today it’s difficult to imagine the first Iron Man movie not reaching the $1 billion mark or at least coming close to it. However, back in 2008, the beginning of the MCU was a gamble to a certain point as it wasn’t clear how the audiences would respond.

Fortunately for all superhero fans, they loved the movie and the rest is history. So even though Iron Man didn’t make as much money as other MCU movies, it’s still highly significant because, without it, there would be no MCU.

12 Ant-Man And The Wasp

Worldwide Gross: $622 Million

Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly as Ant-Man and Wasp, Ant-Man and the Wasp

  • Release Date: July, 2018
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%
  • MCU Release Order: 20th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $200 million

A box office gross of $622 million is something many movies can only dream of, but it’s an average number when it comes to the MCU movies. Just like its predecessor, Ant-Man and the Wasp is a smaller movie in the context of the MCU, meaning it doesn’t take on a space-level threat.

The civil nature of the movie also reflects its profit, which is still respectable but not record-breaking, unlike other MCU movies. At least it explains the question of where Scott Lang was during the events of the Infinity War and everything that followed. However, considering this movie came after the highly successful Avengers movie, it’s a shock it didn’t do better.

11 Iron Man 2

Worldwide Gross: $623 Million

  • Release Date: April, 2010
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%
  • MCU Release Order: 3rd movie
  • Estimated Budget: $200 million

Making just over a million more than Ant-Man and the Wasp, Iron Man 2 cost $200 million to make and made over three times more, showing the gradual growth of the MCU. It’s nice to see this slow gross, as many other studios expressed disappointment when they didn’t make $1 billion after just one movie and were quick to alter any plans of a live-action shared universe, but not the MCU.

The sequel isn’t remembered as fondly as the first movie, but it still has many strong moments and also introduces a highly important character. Iron Man 2 is the first time fans saw Natasha Romanoff appear on the scene, and it also gave more space to Nick Fury, which speaks in its favor.

10 Thor: The Dark World

Worldwide Gross: $644 Million

thor the dark world Cropped

  • Release Date: November, 2013
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%
  • MCU Release Order: 8th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $170 million

It’s somewhat ironic that the second Thor solo movie Thor: The Dark World earned a larger box office gross than many of its predecessors as well as successors. The reason for this is that it’s universally seen as one of the weakest MCU movies. It offers a forgettable plot and generic action scenes.

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The movie has its strong moments, but it lacks the character depth of the first movie and the comedy timing of the third movie. Still, the fans were happy to see Thor again and brought the movie a decent, albeit not record-breaking box office gross of $644 million.

9 Doctor Strange

Worldwide Gross: $677 Million

Doctor Strange 2016

  • Release Date: October, 2016
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%
  • MCU Release Order: 14th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $165 million

Despite the positive reviews and Benedict Cumberbatch’s strong performance in the leading role, Doctor Strange’s first solo movie wasn’t the most profitable picture of the MCU. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Doctor Strange isn’t as known to the general audience as other Marvel heroes, such as Spider-Man.

MCU origin stories also often don’t earn as much money, as other movies could attest. The movie also holds another not-so-positive record – it took Doctor Strange the longest time yet of all MCU superheroes to get a sequel! Usually, the sequel of their solo adventures followed in 2–3 years but for Doctor Strange, it was 6 years!

8 Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Worldwide Gross: $714 Million

Captain America: The Winter Soldier Poster

  • Release Date: March, 2014
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
  • MCU Release Order: 9th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $170 million

The second Captain America solo movie nearly doubled the first movie’s profit, proving that the fans preferred seeing Captain America’s 21st-century adventure. It helped that the movie managed to build a strong atmosphere and featured another iconic superhero, Black Widow.

It also brought back Bucky Barnes aka the Winter Soldier who would go on to become an important part of the MCU. So even though Captain America: The Winter Soldier didn’t break the one billion dollar threshold, its box office gross was still high enough to warrant a sequel two years later, Captain America: Civil War.

7 Thor: Love And Thunder

Worldwide Gross: $760 Million

Chris Hemsworth muscles in Thor: Love and Thunder

  • Release Date: July, 2022
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
  • MCU Release Order: 29th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $250 million

Despite Thor’s popularity in the MCU and the fact that he’s the only MCU superhero who got four solo movies, defeating the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and Spider-Man, a majority of his adventures didn’t do so well at the box office and could only dream about breaking the coveted one billion dollar threshold.

The newest Thor movie Love and Thunder brought back some familiar faces, most notably Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, as well as the humor of its predecessor Thor: Ragnarok, but the story garnered not-so-great reviews from some of the viewers which could explain why it didn’t reach better box office results. Perhaps the overindulgence of Taika Waititi’s humor and the ‘dumbing down’ of Thor turned audiences away from Thor, and the MCU in general, especially with the literal butchery of Gorr the God Butcher’s iconic story.

6 Guardians Of The Galaxy

Worldwide Gross: $773 Million

Peter Quill flirting with Gamora on a balcony in the first Guardians of the Galaxy

  • Release Date: July, 2014
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%
  • MCU Release Order: 10th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $170 million

Before the movie premiered, it wasn’t clear whether it would be successful since this was MCU’s first space opera. However, even though a lot of people weren’t familiar with the characters before, they enjoyed the fast-paced, action-filled funny story populated with unique heroes and villains alike. The main antagonist of the movie, Ronan the Accuser, wasn’t as fleshed-out as other MCU villains, but Guardians of the Galaxy still scored a solid 773 million dollars at the box office.

That makes it the highest-ranking movie of the MCU movies with the lowest box office gross. The Guardians of the Galaxy were new and fresh faces in the MCU, and thanks to James Gunn, they received a trilogy, and a bolster in comics and video games. Even more impressive, is how James Gunn’s work has now seen him lead DC Comics as the co-chairman of DC Studios for its upcoming DCU reboot, providing the MCU with a true rival.

5 Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 3

Worldwide Gross: $845 Million

The_Guardians_walking_in_spacesuits_in_Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_Vol_3

  • Release Date: May, 2023
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
  • MCU Release Order: 32nd movie
  • Estimated Budget: $250 million

The Guardians are back for one more triumphant romp in the cosmos, and with the confirmation of this being the swan song for both the characters and the director/writer James Gunn, tensions were high regarding MCU fans’ favorite group of misfits and galactic heroes. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 did a great job at the box office, but still didn’t push past the $1 billion mark, an accomplishment that all deserving Guardians of the Galaxy movies deserved, but didn’t get.

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For a team of relatively unknown characters to reach so high in the box office, is an achievement in itself. The success of James Gunn and the cast and crew should be celebrated, and the emotional story of Rocket’s tragic past, paired with Star-Lord’s recent loss of Gamora, adds to further turmoil in the galaxy, upended by the scheming and truly diabolical High Evolutionary.

4 Thor: Ragnarok

Worldwide Gross: $855 Million

thor and loki ragnarok

  • Release Date: October 2017
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%
  • MCU Release Order: 17th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $180 million

Thor has been in a tough spot, and the Asgardian God of Thunder hasn’t exactly had the smoothest ride in the MCU’s solo films. From Shakespearean tales and bleached eyebrows to comedic bellowing in The Avengers, the character and Chris Hemsworth were beloved, but in need of the right movie, which is where Taika Waititi’s breath of fresh air humor came along.

Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t play like the typical MCU film, and it’s permitted to have its own style. With a grand villainous role from Cate Blanchett, and the return of Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, last seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans were expecting a doozy to this prequel to Avengers: Infinity War, and the numerous reinventions of Thor probably aided, as the God of Thunder is sent on a quest to free himself from gladiator imprisonment and take back Asgard from his secret sister, Hela.

3 Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Worldwide Gross: $855 Million

Wakanda Forever Cast

  • Release Date: November 2022
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 82%
  • MCU Release Order: 29th movie
  • Estimated Budget: $200 million

Tragedy mounts with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, as not only was it hit with the COVID pandemic for its release window, but it also features the loss of Chadwick Boseman, the iconic actor who played T’Challa and the Black Panther himself. With his loss, the film took a different turn from what was expected, as a recast was not on the cards.

Instead, the story deals with the loss of T’Challa. The story of loss and grief is deeply rooted in real-life tragedy, and the movie isn’t afraid to get more serious than other MCU movies. Yet, the time for mourning is at a constant tether with the villainous Atlanteans, led by Namor, providing fans with an intense war and a devastating loss.



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