As if there was ever any doubt, this weekend's colossal "Thor: The Dark World" box office performance lays to rest one thing: the Disney-Marvel machine works.
The $86 million domestic opening -- more than $20 million more than its predecessor's summertime bow -- for "Thor: The Dark World" is a bi-product of the massive popularity of the Marvel brand and its characters; but namely, those featured in "The Avengers," which stands as the industry's third-highest grossing film of all time at $1.5 billion worldwide.
SEE ALSO: Box Office: 'Thor: The Dark World' Strikes Big With $180 Mil Worldwide
The "Avengers"-effect reaches beyond just the hammer-wielding god in "Thor" -- it also has strengthened the mettle of the "Iron Man" franchise.
"Iron Man 3," at $1.215 billion globally, the fifth-largest cume ever (and this year's No. 1 pic), marks a remarkable 95% increase over "Iron Man 2," which grossed $624 million worldwide in 2010. That kind of sequel-to-three-quel improvement is unrivaled so far in the Marvel world: for instance, Sony's "Spider-Man 3" (2007) grew 14% over its 2004 predecessor, while Fox's "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006) saw a comparable 13% increase over "X-2: X-Men United," which was released in 2003.
Aside from being "Avengers" siblings, "Iron Man 3" and "Thor: The Dark World," which had a 31% larger domestic opening than the original, benefit huge growth in the international marketplace.
SEE ALSO: Film Review: 'Thor: The Dark World'
This weekend, "The Dark World" collected $19.6 million in China in three days, surpassing the entire gross of the original "Thor" on the mainland. (A growing Chinese infrastructure also plays a lot into the overperformance.)
"The Marvel guys are so fucking smart," enthused one industry executive Sunday morning. "I don't think anyone is as smart as them in the industry."
The popularity of the Marvel brand has extended beyond fanboys to become an event for families, as well.
Although Tony Stark as Iron Man ultimately has more clout with audiences than Thor does, the success of the post-"Avengers" sequels regardless is very good news for another member of the team -- Captain America.
The original stars n' stripes Avenger pic -- which was the last Marvel film to be distributed by Paramount -- raked in more than $370 million worldwide, which was less than "Thor" (the penultimate Par-distributed Marvel pic) but more than the original "X-Men," at 296 million globally.
Disney launches "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" on April 4; the "Avengers" sequel, "Age of Ultron," bows May 1, 2015.
Post-'Avengers' Effect: How 'Thor: The Dark World' Leveraged Marvel Heritage
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