Death, taxes, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe dominating the box office are three of the very few certainties in life, but a streak that’s stretched on for a decade is poised to come to an end thanks to the one-two punch of Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water.
Every year without fail since 2014, one of the two highest-grossing movies of the year on a global level has hailed from either Kevin Feige’s all-conquering superhero franchise, or fellow Disney-owned behemoth Star Wars. We may not have had a brand new blockbuster set in a galaxy far, far away since The Rise of Skywalker, but the MCU keeps churning them out like never before.
The last time both of the top-earning features existed outside of Marvel and Star Wars came eight years ago when Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction topped the annual rankings, with The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies just behind. James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy was third, but the MCU hasn’t even managed to crack the top three for 2022.
In fact, you’ll need to go all the way back to 2011 to find the last time none of the three biggest box office hits of a calendar year didn’t feature anything from Marvel or Star Wars, which is mind-blowing to think about. Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, and Jurassic World Dominion are the clear victors (and the only trio to make it to a billion), leaving the MCU out in the cold for a change.