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Marvel heroes broke records and changed Hollywood

Marvel founder and comic book titan ...

Posted: Nov. 13, 2018 4:57 AM
Updated: Nov. 13, 2018 4:57 AM

Marvel founder and comic book titan Stan Lee died on Monday, leaving behind one of the most influential and important careers in pop culture history.

Disney's Marvel Studios, which created a cinematic universe based on Lee's creations, has had 20 straight No. 1 openings at the box office. The studio, which Disney acquired for $4 billion in 2009, has made nearly $18 billion over the past decade, making it one of the most successful brands in Hollywood history.

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To give that number some context, that's about double the amount that "Star Wars," another Disney brand, has made at the worldwide box office when not accounting for inflation.

Films under the Marvel banner from Disney, 20th Century Fox, Sony and other studios have made roughly $30 billion globally, according to Comscore.

"The profound impact of Stan Lee's creations and the influence that his singular vision has had on our culture and the world of cinema is almost immeasurable and virtually unparalleled by any other modern day artist," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst at Comscore, told CNN.

Here are five record-breaking franchises inspired by Lee.

"X-Men" (2000) and "Spider-Man" (2002)

Even though films like 1978's "Superman: The Movie" and 1989's "Batman" showed that superheroes could be profitable, "X-Men" in 2000 and 2002's "Spider-Man" taught Hollywood that comic books could make heroic amounts of money.

"X-Men" launched Hugh Jackman to superstar status and raked in nearly $300 million worldwide. "Spider-Man," which starred Tobey Maguire as the web-slinger, had the biggest opening in box office history at the time and went on to make more than $800 million worldwide. Films about Spider-Man, arguably Lee's most popular character, have since made about $5 billion at the box office.

"Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," the latest Spider-Man film, opens in December.

"Iron Man" (2008)

Lee's superheroes would completely transform the film industry in 2008.

"Iron Man," which starred Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, led to Disney's creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the combination of Lee's comic book heroes with interconnecting story lines in film after film.

Lee himself was even part of the universe, showing up in numerous cameos.

"The Avengers" (2010) and "Avengers: Infinity War" (2018)

In 2012, "The Avengers" became the first movie in history to open to more than $200 million domestically in one weekend.

"Avengers: Infinity War," its 2018 sequel that brought together nearly every superhero in the Marvel universe, topped that opening record before bringing in more than $2 billion.

Films that Lee produced make up four of the top ten biggest films in box office history.

"Black Panther" (2018)

Lee's heroes have also had an immense impact on the culture of Hollywood.

For example, this year's "Black Panther," Marvel's first film directed by an African American with a predominantly African-American cast, shattered the misconception that film's starring people of color lack global appeal.

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