Except for the Winter Soldier. That ended in a draw because the Winter Soldier is an extreme badass of the first order and it’s going to take more than a punchy dude with a shield to bring him under control. (Here’s why the Winter Soldier is the villain Marvel has needed so badly.) But everyone else? Yeah, Captain America smoked his competition.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier opened domestically this weekend—it had already pulled in over a hundred million overseas—and with $96.2 million, it set the new record for the biggest April opening, beating Fast Five by a solid $10 million. Since The Avengers in 2012, the Iron Man franchise saw a 36% rise in business and Thor got a 30% bounce, but Cap got a whopping 48% boost in box office, the biggest post-Avengers surge yet. (You have to wonder if Chris Hemsworth’s lack of enthusiasm is because he’s empirically the least popular Avenger. Chris Evans hates being famous; Chris Hemsworth might not feel famous enough.)
That’s a good sign for Marvel, who wants Captain America to take Iron Man’s place as the keystone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, now that the Iron Man franchise is on hiatus. And it’s a warning shot across the bow of Warner Brothers, who is still has Batman vs. Superman scheduled opposite Captain America 3 on May 6, 2016.
There’s no way the Superhero Apocalypse actually comes to pass—it’s terrible business for both parties and while Marvel is willing to let Cap take a hit just to piss in WB/DC’s Cornflakes, WB/DC can’t actually afford to let that happen (and not for any DC/Marvel bullsh*t reason—their movies just cost way more and they can’t lose the revenue). They won’t announce a scheduling change right away—the reason would be too obvious—but I do think WB/DC will be the ones to blink. Odds are they’ll push Batman vs. Superman back into April, now that Cap has proven that superheroes sell in spring, or jump ahead to July, a month that has traditionally been good to DC heroes.
But for now, Cap is riding high, celebrating huge numbers that somehow still aren’t good enough for the brass. The Winter Soldier fell just short of the $100 million mark, which means no bonuses for the many, many employees who worked incredibly hard till the very last second to finish Marvel’s best movie yet. It’s disappointing when Marvel, who is an industry innovator in so many ways, is just as sh*tty as every other studio. Your people worked hard and made a great movie. Don’t be dickheads about it.