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Avengers: Endgame finally beats Avatar to become the biggest movie of all time

Avengers: Endgame squeaks by Avatar’s top box office record with $2.79 billion.

Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers: Endgame.
Chris Evans in Avengers: Endgame.

Avengers: Endgame’s mantra is “whatever it takes” — primarily in the context to defeat the mad Titan known as Thanos. But over the past few weeks, that mantra has also been quite appropriate to describe Marvel’s efforts to push Endgame past 2009’s Avatar as the movie with the biggest worldwide box office in history (unadjusted for inflation). And this past weekend, Endgame finally surpassed the reigning champ.

It took 13 weeks at the box office, a post-credits trailer from the then-upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home movie, and a final rerelease in theaters late last month with new post-credits material.

Endgame made an estimated $1.19 million at the domestic box office this weekend to push its total worldwide tally to $2.79 billion. Avatar’s haul stands at $2.789 billion. The record is the newest jewel in Marvel’s crown — or Infinity Stone in its gauntlet, if we want to stay on theme with the Marvel cinematic mythology. When the movie came out in April, it set the record ($1.2 billion) for the biggest worldwide opening weekend in history and the biggest domestic opening weekend in history; it also holds the fastest-to-$1 billion title (it only took five days).

But perhaps the film’s biggest achievement is how Endgame’s world-toppling piles of money affirm Marvel’s moviemaking strategy. Twenty-three years ago, in 1996, Marvel had filed for bankruptcy and sold off the film rights to some of its characters just to stay afloat. Left with second-tier characters like Thor and Captain America (Spider-Man and the X-Men were the most popular characters then), the comic book company began to introduce the Marvel Cinematic Universe with 2008’s Iron Man, and slowly built out a tapestry of interconnected films, each one vying to be more successful than the last.

And now, 11 years of Marvel movie magic later, Marvel Studios has the biggest movie of all time. The record-breaking news coincides with this weekend’s announcement of 10 new projects — movies and television shows — that symbolize “Phase 4” of its grand design. It would be quite a feat if any of those movies turn out to be as big as Endgame, but remember, it took 11 years of storytelling to get to Endgame. Give Marvel 11 more years and anything’s possible.