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Captain Marvel’s $455 million worldwide box office haul should all but ensure a sequel

Trolls brigaded Captain Marvel with a bad-faith boycott. Fans responded with 455 million reasons not to listen to them.

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
Marvel Studios
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 Marvel, like its titular hero, soared to new heights and uncharted territory at the box office in its opening weekend, bringing in a $153 million domestic haul and $455 worldwide.

To put that in perspective, the movie’s worldwide opening weekend is the sixth largest in history, according to Box Office Mojo, and the second largest for a Marvel film aside from 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Domestically, Captain Marvel scored Marvel’s seventh-largest opening weekend; it also scored Marvel’s second-largest domestic opening weekend for a film that isn’t a sequel or an Avengers team-up (behind Black Panther, which earned $202 million domestically when it opened in 2018).

Captain Marvel’s opening weekend is extremely impressive — especially if viewed independently of Black Panther’s record-breaking box office. Captain Marvel’s debut easily eclipsed the domestic opening weekends for Marvel’s other solo superhero debuts like 2016’s Doctor Strange ($85 million) and 2015’s Ant-Man ($57 million). It also beat the ultra-successful team-up sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($146 million).

And it achieved these numbers despite the efforts of trolls who tried to sink the movie’s online audience scores. (Critically, the movie has been met with mostly positive reviews.)

Captain Marvel, not unlike Black Panther and Wonder Woman and movies like Crazy Rich Asians, carries a lot of industry pressure. It’s Marvel Studios’ first female solo superhero movie (in its current cinematic universe) — just like Black Panther was Marvel Studios’ first black superhero film; just like Wonder Woman was Warner Bros.’ first female solo superhero movie; just like Crazy Rich Asians was the first American studio movie since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club to feature an all Asian and Asian-American cast.

Captain Marvel’s big opening weekend will presumably encourage Hollywood’s decision-makers to greenlight more movies featuring women in roles that cinema hasn’t traditionally made available to them, including superheroes.

Conversely, had it flopped, it could have given those same decision-makers an excuse to insist that people won’t go see a female superhero movie. (It’s an unfortunate reality that in the past, poorly received female superhero movies like 2004’s Catwoman and 2005’s Elektra have been cited as reasons not to make more superhero movies centered on female characters.)

Though there hasn’t been an official announcement for a sequel, Captain Marvel’s huge opening weekend makes one all but certain. (Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy opened with a lower domestic box office tally than Captain Marvel but both got sequels, and a Doctor Strange sequel is reportedly in the works.) Meanwhile, for Captain Marvel fans who can’t wait a year or two for another movie, Captain Marvel will return in next month’s Avengers: Endgame.