The Marvels’ underperformance at the box office has raised concerns about the future of the MCU and when Marvel Studios will have its next billion-dollar hit. Deadpool 3, featuring iconic X-Men characters, has the potential to revive audience excitement and surpass $1 billion. Spider-Man 4 and Avengers: The Kang Dynasty are highly anticipated movies that could break the $1 billion mark and reignite the franchise’s success.

It has been two years since a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie last raked in $1 billion, which means it’s high time for an upcoming MCU movie release to break that drought. The record-breaking underperformance of The Marvels at the global box office has no doubt left Marvel Studios reeling after what has been a real mixed bag of a year. The solid performance and reception for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been sandwiched between the lukewarm and downright disastrous performances of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania and The Marvels, while Disney+ offered one dud and one mega-hit in short order with Secret Invasion and Loki, respectively.

The fact that The Marvels had a production budget of $275 million, the highest production budget since Avengers: Endgame‘s $400 million, is indicative of how Marvel had hoped the movie would perform. After all, Captain Marvel earned over $1 billion in 2019, a real bumper year for Marvel movies that saw all three releases grossing over $1 billion apiece. Instead, the MCU has suffered its biggest loss ever, reigniting concerns over the MCU’s future and general superhero fatigue. The gargantuan studio needn’t throw in the towel just yet, however, as there is a string of upcoming releases that could steady the course – with one just around the corner.

Release Date

MCU Movie

Worldwide Box Office


Spider-Man: No Way Home



Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness



Thor: Love and Thunder



Black Panther: Wakanda Forever



Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania



Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3



The Marvels


Source: The Numbers


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Deadpool 3 Brings Back Wolverine & More X-Men Characters

Release Date: July 26, 2024

Where The Marvels may have failed to excite audiences over newer characters, Deadpool 3 is heading in the opposite direction by involving a cavalcade of comic book movie legends. With Fox’s X-Men movie franchise done, and Marvel regaining control of the movie rights to its mutants, they can officially join the MCU. While Fox had their fair share of X-Men movie duds, the distance between then and now is such that the nostalgia overpowers any lingering ill will towards the original live-action X-Men lineup. Besides, a yellow spandex-clad Wolverine taking center stage is practically all the MCU needed to spark excitement.

This is, after all, exactly what happened with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Though Marvel was moderately successful in keeping the big reveal that previous iterations of Peter Parker would be making an appearance, it was all but confirmed by the time the release date rolled around. What followed was one of the MCU’s best movies, widespread acclaim, and the last instance in which the studio managed to rake in over $1 billion worldwide. All of this was in spite of the fact that Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 were both death knells for their respective franchises.

Movies featuring multiple established characters also have a proven track record in the MCU. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Captain America: Civil War, and every Avengers movie all broke $1 billion. How heavily the X-Men feature in Deadpool 3 remains to be seen, but with both previous Deadpool movies grossing around $780 billion each, the presence of Fox’s X-Men, his integration into the wider MCU, and the star power of rumored Dazzler actor, Taylor Swift, could be plenty to give Deadpool 3 that little extra push. The only thing working against Deadpool 3 is its exclusionary R rating, but that didn’t stop Joker from breaking $1 billion.

Spider-Man 4 Could Continue The Franchise’s Streak

Release Date: TBC

Not only was Spider-Man: No Way Home the last MCU movie to rake in $1 billion, but Spider-Man: Far From Home was the last one before that. Evidently, Spider-Man is the cash cow that Marvel could now be looking toward to hoist the franchise out of its current slump. The hype surrounding Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which could be the first animated movie in line for the Best Picture Oscar since 2010’s Up, also proves that Spider-fever is still high. Marvel might even double down on the multiverse themes and capitalize on the popularity of team-ups by making Spider-Man 4 the one where the Spider-Verse collides with the MCU.

Regardless, Spider-Man: No Way Home was the highest-grossing MCU movie that wasn’t an Avengers installment (and third-highest overall), which sets its sequel in good stead. While this isn’t a foregone conclusion – Captain Marvel had also grossed over $1 billion before breaking the unfortunate recent box office record – Spider-Man sequels have a proven track record that has only been improving with each installment. With that in mind, Spider-Man 4 could be poised to break the $2 billion mark – let alone $1 billion.


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Avengers: The Kang Dynasty Will Be The First Avengers Movie Since 2019

Release Date: May 1, 2026

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty is currently slated for May 2026, but with several MCU delays caused by the recent WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, this could be pushed back even further. This means that at least seven years will have transpired between the release of Avengers movies, which is more than double the typical three. This could be great for building anticipation for the first Avengers movie since Avengers: Endgame, but that hinges on how invested audiences are in its main players and their cohesiveness as a team, given they haven’t even had a chance to assemble yet.

The poorest performing releases of MCU Phases 4 and 5 all have included and introduced the MCU’s newest roster of heroes. Black Widow, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, and The Marvels have all grossed less than $500 million compared to sequels featuring Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, and Black Panther, which grossed in the region of $800 million. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantummania, however, also grossed under $500 million, which notably featured the first appearance of Kang the Conqueror in earnest – the presumed villain of Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.

This puts Avengers: The Kang Dynasty in a precarious position if it intends to center around the MCU’s newer heroes rather than its veterans. Hope is far from lost, however, as the viewership for Loki helped prove that there is a taste for multiverse shenanigans and, potentially, Kang’s variants. The MCU also isn’t constrained to deploying only newer characters, though the presence of some established fan-favorites is more likely to arise in the Multiverse Saga’s grand finale.

Avengers: Secret Wars Could Be Bigger Than Endgame

Release Date: May 7, 2027

Provided Marvel doesn’t take significant creative liberties when adapting the comic book run of the same name, then Avengers: Secret Wars has the potential to be an amalgamation of everything that worked for the MCU in the past. The Multiverse Saga finale is still a ways off, so details are scarce, but it can be safely assumed it will feature a who’s-who of MCU fan-favorites. Additionally, the hype surrounding the likely involvement of one of Marvel’s most popular villains, Doctor Doom, can’t be overstated.

Marvel will want to replicate the success of its biggest movie yet, Avengers: Endgame, which remains the highest-grossing MCU movie with a $2.8 billion worldwide box office. Should the MCU recreate the events of Secret Wars as faithfully as possible, then Avengers: Secret Wars will certainly fit that bill as it threatens to pit all the most well-known heroes of the Multiverse against one another. The hope for Marvel and audiences alike, however, is that Avengers: Secret Wars will not be the first movie since Spider-Man: No Way Home to break $1 billion as, by that point, the MCU may not be in an adequate financial state to produce it.

Key Release Dates

Deadpool 3

Captain America: Brave New World

Marvel’s Fantastic Four

Marvel’s Thunderbolts

Blade (2025)

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

Avengers: Secret Wars

 Despite the drought, the MCU isn’t done yet.  Read More