Dir. Joss Whedon ($1.5 billion)
Marvel Studios had this motion picture in mind from the start. They planted a seed in the post-credits scene when Samuel L. Jackson walked into frame and announced himself to be Colonel Nick Fury and with Agent Phil Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. assisting Tony and Pepper in defeating Stane. Fast forward four years and five more heroes (The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) and the seed fully blossomed into the third-highest grossing film of all-time. It’s no wonder Marvel hired the mahatma of nerdy sci-fi experts, Joss Whedon (“Buffy,” “Firefly”), to handle their precious, paramount project. While a few films leading up to assembling of the super hero squad felt forced, The Avengers did not. The heroes assembled out of a creative situation involving characters from all across the MCU. Thor’s brother, Loki, served as the main antagonist with an invading alien army (brilliantly on loan from a character setting up future MCU installments). The covert organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. finally proved its worth when the camera panned around six united super heroes (four stand-alone franchises) standing with their backs to each other, defending New York City.
Creative differences caused Edward Norton to pass on reprising his role as Banner which led to the recasting of Mark Ruffalo. Aside from this, The Avengers had little production issues. Being the first MCU under the Disney-Marvel name, the studio simply couldn’t afford to fail. Many film pundits shared early doubts that so many movie stars and super heroes in one cast meant a bloated plot that headed nowhere. However, Joss Whedon had the brains to simply cite direct comic book canon and the film went off without a hitch. Whedon certainly he showed the world he was Marvel’s ace in the sleeve, making over $1.5 billion worldwide. Marvel Studios then hired Whedon as a “godfather” of sorts to oversee their future installments and team-ups which certainly explains the boost in plot quality for the MCU after he took over. Retaining all the heroes for the sequel could mean a box office bigger than Avatar.