To date, movies based on Marvel Comics characters and titles — some 33 films in all — have grossed nearly $6.18 billion at the U.S. box office, and more than double that worldwide. Marvel Studios, the in-house company set up by the comic book publisher (now a part of Disney) has taken in $2.6 billion alone, courtesy of the nine pictures (The Avengers, as well as the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America films) released under their banner. Meanwhile, studios like Sony and Fox also milk the brand with their respective properties, e.g. Spider-Man and the X-Men — both of which, coincidentally (or not), are gracing theaters with new entries this month.
But Marvel hasn't always been a commercial juggernaut, and for every good choice made regarding a movie based on a Marvel Comic, you can bet that a wrong-headed one was executed as well. Aside from one lone Captain America serial in 1944, the history of Marvel Comics on the big screen encompasses only the last 28 years — and those nearly three decades have had their share of highs, lows, hits and misses. So on the eve of X-Men: Days of Future Past taking over multiplexes around the world, we invite you to follow along as we look back through 40 decisions that shaped the Marvel movies — the very worst, the very best, and all those that could have gone either way. After all, as any Marvel fan will tell you, superheroes aren't perfect. By Don Kaye