Niles-Maine District Library


March Madness: MCU Edition

Spring is my second favorite season, (summer, you’re doing amazing, sweetie!) and with spring coming into bloom, that means the days are slowly getting longer and warmer, the chirping of birds right outside my bedroom window serve as nature’s ultimate alarm clock, baseball season is around the corner, and for 3 glorious weeks there’s college basketball games on nearly every station all day long. Inspired by this spring chaos– March Madness to us sports geeks—and the March 8 release of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s latest release, Captain Marvel starring Brie Larson, I decided to create a March Madness-themed bracket, this one featuring the 20 films that fall under the Marvel Cinematic Universe to determine which film is the best. Easy, right?








In order to get the films to fit nice and neatly into bracket form, I had to determine the Top 12 and the Bottom 8 films. Why a bottom 8? In a standard bracket, there are 4 regions with an even number of teams. With 20 films, that would give us an odd number of films in each region. Even a bottom 4 would leave us with 4 films on the outside looking in. With 12 films, that gave me 3 films in each of the 4 regions, with the #4 seeds being determined by “play-in” games: 4 games with the “winner” going on to be the lowest seed in their respective regions. The easiest (and least biased way) to rank the films, would be by using the latest box office gross figures, in U.S. dollars, with the four highest grossing films comprising our #1 seeds.


Twenty movies meant an odd number of films to fit into a four region bracket. In order to get it work, each film would need to be ranked and given a seed. To do so would require an unbiased assessment, with the best indicator in determining a film’s seeding being each movie’s individual box office figures since, for me, those numbers are akin to a sports team’s win-loss record. I entertained the idea of using Rotten Tomatoes scores but ultimately vetoed that idea.


I combed through the data at Box Office Mojo to gather the information I needed, rounding the totals to the nearest million dollars. Here are the 20 films, listed in order of domestic box office gross, with the year the film was released:


  1. Black Panther (2018) –$700 million
  2. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)–$679 million
  3. Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)–$623 million
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) — $459 million
  5. Iron Man 3 (2013) — $409 million
  6. Captain America: Civil War (2016) — $408 million
  7. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017) — $389 million
  8. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) — $334 million
  9. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) — $333 million
  10. Iron Man (2008) — $318 million
  11. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) — $ 315 million
  12. Iron Man 2 (2010) — $312 million
  13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) — $260 million
  14. Doctor Strange (2016) — $233 million
  15. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) — $217 million
  16. Thor: The Dark World (2013) –$206 million
  17. Thor (2011) — $181 million
  18. Ant-Man (2015) — $180 million
  19. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) — $177 million
  20. The Incredible Hulk (2008) — $135 million


The #1 seeds and their respective regions are:

Black Panther (Black Panther Region)

Avengers: Infinity War (Guardians Region)

Marvel’s The Avengers (Thor Region)

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Avengers Region)


The #2 seeds and their respective regions are:

Iron Man 3 (Black Panther Region)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (Guardians Region)

Captain America: Civil War (Thor Region)

Spider-Man: Homecoming (Avengers Region)


The #3 seeds and their respective regions are:

Guardians of the Galaxy (Black Panther Region)

Iron Man (Guardians Region)

Thor: Ragnarok (Thor Region)

Iron Man 2 (Avengers Region)


The 4 play-in games with the winners going on to face the #1 seeds in their respective regions are:

Black Panther Region—Captain America: The First Avenger versus The Incredible Hulk

Guardians Region—Ant-Man versus Thor

Thor Region—Ant-Man and the Wasp versus Thor: The Dark World

Avengers Region—Captain America: The Winter Soldier versus Doctor Strange



Immediately, I recognized the need to call on my colleagues to assist me in this arduous task! NMDL’s very own Alexa and Elbert were surveyed. The three of us painstakingly went back and forth, hemmed and hawed. After the dust settled (pun intended), this is the bracket we came up with:



Is there a Cinderella in the mix? What films would advance in your bracket? Join us Thursday to see which films advanced to the next round!




















*Figures courtesy of Rounded to the nearest million dollars.



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