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Captain America: Civil War’s box office success has made it the summer blockbuster to beat

Captain America: Civil War.
Captain America: Civil War.
Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Captain America: Civil War, Marvel's grand Avenger versus Avenger melee flick, kicked off the 2016 summer movie season by setting a pretty massive box office standard. The film brought home the fifth-largest opening weekend of all time, according to Box Office Mojo, earning an estimated $181.79 million.

That's huge.

To put that in perspective, the first two Captain America films — 2011's The First Avenger and 2014's The Winter Soldier — opened to $65 million and $95 million, respectively. Civil War's opening weekend was Marvel's biggest debut for a solo superhero movie (although technically it features a boatload of Avengers, as well as the introductions of both Spider-Man and Black Panther to the Marvel Cinematic Universe); and only Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, The Avengers, and Avengers: Age of Ultron have outpaced its opening weekend.

Civil War also beat the other big superhero versus superhero movie of 2016, Batman v Superman ($166 million according to Box Office Mojo), by about $15 million in domestic opening weekend ticket sales. What industry insiders will be looking at is whether Civil War can continue its momentum in the coming weeks and possibly pass the $1 billion mark (the movie reportedly had a $250 million filming budget, which doesn't include the millions spent on marketing and promotion).

For Marvel, Civil War's big weekend offers a jolt of confidence that the company can steadily grow its solo superhero franchises. The total domestic gross for The Winter Soldier, Civil War's predecessor, was $259 million — a figure that Civil War will almost certainly surpass. Furthermore, Civil War's box office success bodes well for Marvel's upcoming films centered on Spider-Man and Black Panther, two characters who were introduced in Civil War and lauded as some of the best parts of the film.

In its second weekend, Civil War will be facing off against the quasi-financial thriller Money Monster, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, and the horror film The Darkness, anchored by Kevin Bacon — both open on Friday.

We've reached peak lens flare. Here's how it started.