Building a successful film franchise is not easy and many Hollywood movie studios steer clear of attempting to jump on the bandwagon.
However, with the right subject matter and talented people working behind the scenes, it is entirely feasible to create a lucrative movie series.
A recent study by Betway Insider claimed the Marvel movie franchise is already one of the most successful of all-time, topping the rankings in several of the categories they assessed.
Marvel has turned over $27.4 billion in profit from its box office takings and has a racked up a whopping 555 awards at the major ceremonies.
With the series also scoring well on review site IMDb, we take a closer look at which films have wowed global audiences the most.
1. Avengers: Endgame (2019)
You will need a cushion for your backside to watch this three-hour masterpiece in its entirety, but it is undoubtedly worth the suffering.
With an estimated budget of $356–400 million the film is one of the most expensive ever made, but gross worldwide takings of almost $2.8 billion justified the outlay.
Although it feels a little self-indulgent in places, Avengers: Endgame proves that Marvel have not run out of ideas with the franchise just yet.
2. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
The sequel to Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) proves that not all follow-up films flop if you get the casting right.
Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, Jeff Goldblum and Anthony Hopkins are amongst a star-studded line-up the make this movie sparkle.
One of the funniest films in the entire series, Thor Ragnarok rightly received plenty of positive reviews from respected film critics.
3. Iron Man (2008)
Robert Downey Jr’s flawed off-screen personality made him the ideal fit for Iron Man – the first film in the Marvel franchise and unquestionably one of the best.
The movie elevated Iron Man from one of Marvel’s forgotten superheroes into one of their standout names, largely thanks to Downey’s superb portrayal of him.
Underpinned by a sense of fun that runs through several other movies in the franchise, Iron Man laid the foundations for the series to become a global phenomenon.
4. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
The tenth film in the series was a landmark moment for Marvel Studios and they ensured that audiences were not left disappointed.
It features a fantastic cast including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper as the Guardians, all of whom effortlessly bounce off each other.
Guardians of the Galaxy was the third-highest-grossing film of 2014 and received numerous accolades at the top awards ceremonies.
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, Captain America: The Winter Soldier serves up a politically-charged dose of superheroes in another Marvel classic.
A cast led by Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson gets a sprinkling of movie icons with Jenny Agutter, Robert Redford and Samuel L. Jackson also in the line-up.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects, but was beaten to the prize by Interstellar.
6. Doctor Strange (2016)
Marvel got groovy in 2016 with the psychedelic Doctor Strange – a movie described by film critic Todd McCarthy as ‘an engaging, smartly cast and sporadically eye-popping addition’ to the franchise.
Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent in the lead role of Dr Stephen Strange and deservedly received several nominations at film award ceremonies worldwide.
Cumberbatch has subsequently reprised the role in several more Marvel movies, most recently in the Multiverse of Madness released during 2023.
7. Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Captain America (Evans) and Iron Man (Downey Jr) go head-to-head in a war over goals and tactics that inevitably divided Marvel fans across the world.
The film, which depicts the violent end of a friendship and the ethical questions attached to free will, was unsurprisingly a massive hit at the box office.
Whereas other superhero films have descended into cartoon plots when tackling similar subject matter, Captain America: Civil War expertly stays on the right side of the line.
8. Spider-Man: No Way Home (2023)
Already a successful film franchise in its own right, Spider-Man has also contributed massively to the Marvel series over the past few years.
Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, Willem Dafoe and Alfred Molina are amongst an excellent cast who contribute to another Marvel classic.
Spider-Man: No Way Home was the highest-grossing film of 2023, the sixth-highest-grossing film of all-time and set numerous other box office records.
9. The Avengers (2012)
Downey Jr, Evans, Hemsworth and Johansson are amongst the returnees in a film that was the highest-grossing film of 2012 and the first Marvel production to generate $1bn in ticket sales.
The script focuses on the superheroes’ humanity, bringing together several characters from the Marvel universe and making the gel in an unlikely mash-up.
Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Dr Bruce Banner/The Hulk helped to elevate the film to another level, with director Joss Whedon expertly tapping into his conflicted personality.
10. Black Widow (2023)
Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), the film sees Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) on the run and forced to confront her past as a spy.
Johansson is once again excellent in the role, while Florence Pugh delivers a sparkling performance alongside here as Yelena Belova.
With a stellar supporting cast backing up the lead duo, Black Widow is a timely reminder that women can make independent and active choices for themselves.
Marvel film franchise – the final word
Picking our favourite Marvel movie is no easy task, particularly when eye-catching films such as Black Panther have not even made this list.
However, in terms of the impact it made on the superhero genre, and the fact it brought Downey Jr back into the spotlight, we have to plump for Iron Man.