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The Marvel Cinematic Universe
Marvel Studios' unprecedented success has continued with the releases of "Thor 2: The Dark World," which has grossed over $639 million worldwide to date, and "Iron Man 3" which grossed over $1.2 billon worldwide and was the #1 grossing film for 2013 both domestically and internationally. In 2011 Marvel produced the critically acclaimed "Marvel's The Avengers," which set the all-time, domestic three-day weekend box-office record at $207.4 million. The film, which shattered both domestic and international box-office records, is Disney's highest-grossing global and domestic release of all time at $1.6 billion and marks the studio's fifth film to gross more than $1 billion worldwide.

In the summer of 2011, Marvel successfully launched "Thor," starring Chris Hemsworth, and "Captain America: The First Avenger," starring Chris Evans. Both films opened #1 at the box office and have grossed over $800 million worldwide combined. In 2010 "Iron Man 2," starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson and Mickey Rourke, took the #1 spot in its first weekend with a domestic box-office gross of $128.1 million.

In the summer of 2008, Marvel produced the summer blockbuster movies "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk." "Iron Man" garnered the #1 position for two weeks in a row, raking in over $100 million in its opening weekend. "The Incredible Hulk" marked Marvel's second #1 opener of that summer.

President of Marvel Entertainment and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" producer Kevin Feige explains why Marvel has been able to continue its unprecedented box-office success within its beloved universe of characters. "One of the big reasons why our films have continued to be successful is we never underestimate or discount an audience's desire to see justice prevail, or to see a character who is flawed in some way overcome adversity," says Feige. "One of my favorite things about the characters in the Marvel universe is that it is never easy for them to prevail. Even if they have super powers or skills, people like seeing our heroes put through the ringer and still hopefully emerge triumphant. Luckily we have been able to take those elements and transform them into a visual spectacle that is fun to watch and emotionally compelling. It makes it worth leaving your big-screen TV for a theater where you can enjoy watching it with a crowd as a collective experience. We're also very fortunate to have a universe full of so many complex, but entertaining characters that continue to resonate with audiences."

Marvel co-president of production Louis D'Esposito adds that it is also important to note that the storylines in each film are interconnected in some way and they all have an effect on the different film franchises in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "It really raises the stakes when audiences know that whatever happens in 'Iron Man 3' is going to have relevance to the storyline of 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' and 'Thor: The Dark World,'" explains D'Esposito. "And what happens in those films will affect 'Avengers: Age of Ultron.' It's not always easy to do and sometimes it takes a little while to pay things off, but I think audiences really appreciate that when we do."

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