Marvel had quite the successful year at the box office of 2016 with its two big hits – Captain America: Civil War and Dr. Strange.
Captain America: Civil War was the final installment in the Captain America series, directed by the same team as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers. Months before the release the internet was chalk full of Civil War memes of all kinds of reasons why this conflict started as much as conflicting tastes in soda, ice cream or other inside jokes. A lot was riding on this film as it pitted two of the most popular heroes of the MCU against each other while introducing The Black Panther played by Chadwick Boseman and finally bringing a new, retconned Spider-Man into the MCU played by Tom Holland. Many other characters returned such as Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Falcon, War Machine and even Paul Rudd’s Ant-man. The film opened in early May in time for summer break for some with a debut of $179 million at the box office. It would go on to hold the #1 spot at the domestic box office for only two consecutive weekends. Nonetheless, in the end the film took home a domestic gross total of over $408 million, tallying at number three on the total domestic chart for 2016. Do not worry it was the number one best opening comic book film of 2016, the number one grossing Captain America film and the number one overall comic book movie of 2016. Internationally it would bring in an extra $745 million, bringing its total worldwide gross to over $1,153 billion and making it the #1 film at the worldwide box office of 2016. It is interesting to note that even though the film broke a billion, that this was a costly film, with a $250 million production budget and for some people out there, this did not bring home as much money as you may think. Indeed, in the end after all the costs of engaging in Civil War, Tony Stark-er I mean the film earned a net profit of $193 million. Which is still a great figure, but do not take the assumption that you simply subtract the budget from the worldwide gross, there’s more to it than just that.
Critically the movie was a huge success, receiving a 90% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. However, some critics and even fans were not entirely happy with it, seeing it as baseless action film to just assemble a set piece and continue another plot thread. Another common critique is how the film felt less of a Captain America film and more of an Avenger film with a good amount of emphasis on Tony Stark rather than Captain America. In addition, Civil War writer Mark Millar wasn’t entirely thrilled with it either, feeling the film lacked “levity” and offered “bleakness”. This is rather odd given his story was not all sunshine and lollipops, in addition the times he used ‘rape scenes’ in his stories, so he is not one to comment I feel.
Captain America: Civil War would go on to the DVD/Blu-Ray market in September debuting at #1 in DVDs and Blu-Rays, selling a total combined of 2.6 million units bringing in over $50.6 million in consumer spending. By the end of the year Captain America: Civil War was the twelfth best-selling DVD by having sold over 1 million copies, resulting in over $18.9 million in consumer spending. Meanwhile, it was the fourth best-selling Blu-Ray title with over 2.7 million units sold and bringing in over $53.6 million in consumer spending. Combined total, the movie sold over 3.8 million units, bringing in over $72.5 million dollar and was the fifth best-selling movie on the home media market.
November saw the debut of Marvel’s Dr. Strange, a creation of the 60’s by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as its main lead. Going in this film had some minor skepticism as some labelled the visuals from the trailers as being similar to Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Casting of Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One was also a controversial move. This was seen as another Hollywood white-washing attempt. In defense, the line of reasoning was to avoid the Tibetan sovereignty debate and most importantly to cast aside the old, 60’s, western racist Fu-Manchu stereotype of Asians. As they felt going the stereotypical Asian route would also receive backlash. Aside from these minor grievances and a few other reviews, the film was a critical success, with a 90% approval from Rotten Tomatoes and A grade from CinemaScore. The film opened to $85 million domestically and only held on to the #1 spot for two weekends. It opened to 33 markets internationally to $87 million and was #1 in all of them save for Finland & Lithuania. Doctor Strange remained the number one film in its third weekend for the third consecutive week in Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore, and number one for the second week in China and Russia. It also became the highest-grossing original MCU release in India, Hong Kong, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. By the end of the year the film had brought in over $230 million from the domestic market and over $427 million from the international box office. In its final total the film was the thirteenth best-selling film in the domestic box office and the eleventh best-selling film at the worldwide box office, bringing home a grand total of over $677 million, bringing in a net profit of $122 million. It is now the second best MCU single character intro film, first place obviously belonging to Iron Man.
With all that said and done it seems Marvel had a hugely impressive and great year in Hollywood both financially and critically. This is not the full story though. With new off-beat comic book movies like Deadpool with its R-Rating and the controversial and dark Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice people are starting to question and challenge the comic book movie. Both critics and even long-time fans are beginning to notice a formulaic trend within the Marvel films. They are deemed as too safe, with little to no stakes, subpar villains and lackluster music. They are simple junk food fun with no train for thought. Do not ask me, ask the fans and people writing up and uploading these critiques. We are not taking sides here but simply want to mention it. Again, though Marvel appears to have a huge victory here, there were still some casualties. However, are these casualties enough to impend on Marvel for the current year and future? One can say only time will tell but for now it seems rather doubtful.
Check back with us and we will finish up our review of Marvel in 2016 with their television shows. Feel free to leave any comments, and we will respond promptly. We would love to hear from you. And thank you for reading The Comic Scene of 2016 in Review Pt. II (Marvel) here at The Chico Comics Page. We appreciate your viewer-ship and invite you to come back soon. We post most everyday.