Avengers: Infinity War has become the fast film to reach a billion dollars in box office gross, to celebrate such a monumental achievement I have decided to run through and rank all 33 previous films to reach that landmark. I would love to hear what your favourite billion dollar films are, where does Infinity War rank in the list for you, and what film you think will achieve the film next? Let me know in the comments.
33) Transformers: Age of Extinction – Oh boy, so the fourth Transformers film is where I have to start, with one of my least favourite films ever. Age of Extinction really manages to capture everything wrong with the Transformers franchise. It’s incredibly long, the action sequences are completely incoherent, the product placement is more memorable than any part of the story, and it features a lengthy bit of dialogue about why it’s ok for a character to sleep with his underage girlfriend. REALLY MICHAEL BAY? REALLY? That’s just creepy. This is possibly not just my least favourite billion dollar film, but least favourite film full stop.
32) Alice In Wonderland – Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland is really horrible. It’s not as bad as Burton’s version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the sequel, Alice Through The Looking Glass, but you can see the same problems there. The main problem with Alice In Wonderland is the horrible performances from Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, and several other key cast members. Depp’s performance in particular is nearly unwatchable. It was so successful because it was part of the same wave as Avatar of effects driven film, but unlike Avatar many of the effects really don’t hold up too well. Mia Wasikowska was actually a good choice for Alice, and actors like Alan Rickman or Stephen Fry made many of the minor characters excellent.
31) Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Ok I actually had to look up which Transformers film this was because it completely blues together with the previous instalment Revenge of the Fallen. I cannot remember what happens in either film, except that this was the one without Megan Fox. I do remember that this was one that was over 2 and half hours long, although it felt like well over 3 hours. I quite enjoyed the first Transformers film, but after that they just become one big noisy mess for me.
30) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise really ran out of steam after the third movie, and On Stranger Tide is when the series went from fun to a chore. Johnny Depp’s shtick as Jack Sparrow really began to get tiresome and repetitive in this film, and it even lost Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley from the supporting cast, which really hurt the film. The film also wasted Ian McShane, because the character of Blackbeard is completely unmemorable. Pirates really should have called it a day after the first trilogy.
29) The Fate of the Furious – I’ve had the misfortune of only seeing two of the Fast and Furious film in cinemas, the 6th and this most recent 8th film, The Fate of the Furious, which just happen to be two of my absolute least favourites. The Fate of the Furious was responsible for giving us the Jason Statham and Dwayne Johnson parts of the film, which are the only enjoyable parts, and genuinely give hope for the spin off featuring the two. The Jason Statham action sequence on the plane is probably the best action sequence from the entire franchise, and feels nothing like a Fast and Furious scene. But the majority of the film is dull, idiotic, and nearly unwatchable.
28) Despicable Me 3 – Despicable Me 2 was a step down from the original, but Despicable Me 3 fell even further. The new character, Gru’s brother, Dru wasn’t a great addition either comedically or dramatically, as he just accentuated all of Gru’s more annoying characteristics, and the jealousy storyline wasn’t anything original. In the end we got less of what made the original such a great film, which was the parent/child relationship between Gru and the three kids. It also did even more of what the second Despicable Me was guilty of, which was making the Minions scenes feel like unconnected vignettes rather than actually part of the film.
27) Furious 7 – I am not a fan of the Fast and Furious films generally, but I tend to like the odd numbered ones a lot more. Of those however Furious 7 is certainly my least favourite. I know it was Paul Walker’s farewell to the franchise, but given my lack of connection to these films it didn’t hit me that hard. On the plus side it did give us Jason Statham in the franchise, which led to the best action sequence from any of them in 8, but it also forced this story into Tokyo Drift, which is my favourite of the franchise. That said Furious 7 is significantly better than either of the films either side of it, and it has The Rock literally flex his way out of a cast, so there’s that.
26) Avatar – The highest grossing film of all time, and this is really the line between the ones I enjoyed and the ones I didn’t. What made Avatar so special and captured people was that it was one of the first films to really make great strides with special effects and 3D. And that aspect does actually still hold up. But in terms of story and characters Avatar is actually horribly boring. You can see the effort that went into that side, as opposed to the world that was made when the element that the humans are after is called Unobtainium. Honestly Avatar is a film that shows the growth of effects in the late 2000s and as a representation of that it’s fine, but we don’t need 3 or 4 sequels.
25) Jurassic World – I always felt as though the makers of Jurassic World were not sure what they wanted the film to be, for two thirds of the film it’s a below average, generic, monster movie that wastes the good ideas behind it. However the last third of this movie is just ridiculous and insane fun. I mean this is a film where a Velociraptor rides a T. rex as they fight against the newly created dinosaur the Indominus Rex. I had a huge amount of fun with the finale of Jurassic World and it was definitely what I remembered about my viewing experience.
24) Minions – Full confession, I really didn’t mind the Minions film. Sure it’s aimed squarely at smaller children, and it is loud, silly, and ridiculous, but I actually had some fun in the with it. Like most of the films from Illumination Studios it isn’t really a film for older audiences, although there are a couple of decent jokes. It also has a ridiculous excellent soundtrack featuring The Who, The Kinks, The Beatles and more. It’s not a great film, but I like it more than a good number of Illumination’s oeuvre.
23) Beauty and the Beast – The animated Beauty and the Beast might well be the best animated film ever made, so remaking it was always going to be difficult. Change too much and you’re just making a worse film, stay too close and what’s the point? In the end they stayed far too close, with the weakest points definitely being the added material about the plague killing Belle’s mother. So whilst it looks beautiful, and isn’t a bad film, it just feels unnecessary and unoriginal. Whilst it is a pleasant experience watching I don’t see why you’d choose to watch this over the original.
22) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Rogue One is the only Star Wars film that I have never really felt an urge to rewatch. I’m fairly sure I only saw it once in cinemas, and haven’t ever touched my Blu-ray copy. But I do like that it was its own unique film, with a different tone to the rest of the Star Wars universe. Whilst Jyn Erso was a completely forgettable character, some of the supporting ones like Cassian Andor, Chirrut Îmwe, Bodhi Rook and K=2SO were pretty great. It was generally too packed full fan service, (did we really need the R2 and 3PO appearance, or the cantina guys?) but they nailed the use of Vader, particularly the final action sequence, which was incredible.
21) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – I adore the Harry Potter book series, and haven’t always been as big a fan of the films. Strangely Deathly Hallows is the one book I wasn’t a huge fan of, it just feels too removed from the world the JK Rowling had spent 6 books creating, and that frustrates me. That said Deathly Hallows Part 2 is certainly one of the stronger films. It provided a suitably epic finale to the saga, and gave fitting ends to numerous key characters, particularly to Snape. The Battle of Hogwarts was a great battle and the key characters all got their moments. I do wish the film hadn’t skated over the deaths of some characters, particularly given that they were fan favourites who had been there for years.
20) Titanic – Titanic would be a lot higher on this if only it was significantly shorter. It’s nearly half an hour before we properly get into the story, with the modern day framing taking up far too much time. When we do eventually get into the past and Jack and Rose’s story on the Titanic it’s brilliant. Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are fantastic, with wonderful chemistry. As a class breaching romance it’s wonderful and moving, with a lot to say of class discrimination. As a disaster movie it’s epic, and the actual sinking of the Titanic is spectacular and the scenes of panic are brilliantly captured by Cameron. James Horner’s score for me is the standout aspect of the film, and is one of the really great movie scores. I wish that I could love Titanic as much as many people clearly did at the time it came out, there’s incredible filmmaking talent behind it, as you’d expect from Cameron, but if only it could have been significantly shorter.
19) Finding Dory – The original Finding Nemo is one of my favourite animated films of all time, and whilst it didn’t need a sequel I am certainly in the camp that believes Pixar managed to find an angle that made a sequel worthwhile. I enjoyed the film when I saw it, I loved seeing that characters back, and found it very funny, but what made it even better for me was hearing about how inspiring it was Pixar to focus on characters with varying forms of disability, such as Dory’s short term memory loss, and how her family helped her through that. The new supporting characters aren’t as great as a lot of the original’s, but they are still a lot of fun, particularly Hank the Octopus. I don’t think that Finding Dory manages to reach Pixar’s top tier of incredible work, but it’s certainly a fun ride that hits a lot of the boxes for a good animated film.
18) Star Wars: The Force Awakens – It had been over 30 years since we saw Luke, Leia, and Han in a Star Wars film before The Force Awakens which made it probably the most hyped up event in cinema history at that point, and thankfully JJ Abrams managed to deliver a hugely crowd pleasing, fun, event film. Why is down in 18th though? It just doesn’t have as much rewatchability as The Last Jedi or even the prequels for me. I’ve already seen The Last Jedi as many times as i have The Force Awakens. It’s a very solid entry into the Star Wars canon but as something of a rehash of a lot of A New Hope I would much rather watch the original (my favourite Star Wars film). I love a lot of the work that JJ did though, the new characters like Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo, and BB-8 are fantastic, and I love where they’ve gone since. I also think this is one of Harrison Ford’s best performances in years, as he finally got a chance to say goodbye to the character as he wanted to do so many years ago, and in such a fitting way.
17) The Dark Knight Rises – The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t come close to Batman Begins, let alone the masterpiece that is The Dark Knight but it’s still a solid film despite not making a lick of sense. My favourite part of the film has to be Tom Hardy’s Bane. He’s so imposing and threatening, and a worthwhile final villain. The scene where he breaks the bat, just like the iconic Knightfall comic, is right up there with the Joker interrogation scene for me as a hero and villain confrontation, and made me hugely excited to see what Nolan would do with Bane. It was such a shame that in the end he was revealed to be merely a puppet of Talia Al Ghul as this completely undercut his agency as a strength as a villain. I do like what Anne Hathaway brought to the character of Catwoman, and thought she had great chemistry with Bale. The problem is that there was too much of the film that doesn’t deliver.
16) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest – The first Pirates of the Caribbean is brilliant. It’s a hilarious, fun adventure film. And whilst Dead Man’s Chest doesn’t come close, it’s still a fun ride, particularly thanks to the introduction of Bill Nighy as Davy Jones. I think if the franchise had stopped at a trilogy then Captain Jack’s character would have had just the right amount of before becoming grating, as he starts to do a little in parts of the third film. But in Dead Man’s Chest I certainly still enjoyed Johnny Depp’s performance. And it truly does have some great set pieces, chiefly the three way sword fight at the end between Jack, Will, and Norrington. But the cracks definitely begin to show a little, particularly with Pintel and Ragetti, who just feel tacked onto the film because they were liked in the first film.
15) The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Much like the Star Wars prequels I love The Hobbit films despite all their flaws. I truly adore the entire Tolkien world, and despite The Hobbit having huge tonal inconsistencies, and certainly trying to make too much out of a relatively small book even with the extra material to lead into The Lord of the Rings. But it was wonderful to be back in Middle Earth, and to revisit the likes of Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, and Elijah Wood. But it was the performances of Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman that stood out. I think both got even better in The Desolation of Smaug and The Battle of the Five Armies but they are excellent here as well. The highlight of the film is undoubtedly the riddles in the dark scene, and Bilbo meets Gollum, it is such a rich, well acted scene, and one that was closer to the tone of The Lord of the Rings rather than the more ‘childish’ parts of The Hobbit.
14) Avengers: Age of Ultron – I’ve said it before, but I believe the biggest problem with Age of Ultron was the marketing. Moments like the Hulk taking on the Hulkbuster Iron Man should have been epic, but they’d been spoiled to death by the trailers. However the film excels in many of its quieter moments such as the post party scene and those at Hawkeye’s farm house. These are some beautiful character moments where we get what only the crossover Avengers films can give us, these characters interacting. It does have its weaker moments, mainly those that were forced world building by Marvel, such as the weird moment of Thor in the cave, but for the most part it really worked for me. I still think Ultron is a great Marvel villain, as some kind of twisted version of Tony Stark, with a lot of his mannerisms, and whilst the ending does devolve into a bit of a battle with a mass CGI army, I love James Spader’s unhinged performance. I’d say Age of Ultron is certainly one that’s worth revisiting.
13) Skyfall – The Daniel Craig era of James Bond has been very hit and miss. What I think made Skyfall such a good film in my opinion is the fact that it felt almost nothing like a Bond film. When you look at Spectre you can see the pitfalls of trying to make a traditional Bond film in the modern era. Skyfall on the other hand is fresh, fun, and has a wickedly good villain turn from Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva. It is also a film that really got into Bond’s past, always a potentially risky move revealing so much about a mysterious character’s past, but it actually works very effectively in the case of Skyfall, thanks to director Sam Mendes and the writers; Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan. I don’t think it really stands up as a great BOND film, but as a film in general it’s absolutely fantastic.
12) Star Wars: The Phantom Menace – Now I’m not under any delusions about The Phantom Menace being any good, but I still love it. There might be a lot of bad acting, dialogue, and characters but I still love every second of it. I also stand by the fact that there is a lot of good in all the prequels, with Maul, the duel of the fates, Podracing, and Liam Neeson’s performance, not to mention a lot of the new alien, planet, and culture designs. When we really get down to it, I love The Phantom Menace because it was my first real experience of Star Wars. I’m not sure when I saw the Original Trilogy for the first time, but I remember the experience of seeing The Phantom Menace as a 4/5 year old in the cinema, and it inspiring my love of Star Wars ever since. Despite its flaws this was one the formative films in my life.
11) Toy Story 3 – A brilliant and fitting conclusion to the Toy Story trilogy is what I should be saying, because it was a perfect ending to Woody and Buzz’s stories, except that we now have a fourth instalment coming. Until then though it still remains as a perfect closer to the trilogy. Personally Toy Story 2 still remains the high bar for me in the trilogy, but the story at Sunnyside Daycare is still highly entertaining. The meeting of Ken and Barbie is genius, and Spanish Buzz may well be the funniest moment from the entire franchise. And then when we get to the ending, such as the furnace, and Andy’s goodbye to the toys at Bonnie’s, it becomes such an emotional experience. In fact “so long partner” may well be one of my favourite lines of all time.
10) Zootopia – Zootopia has continued Disney’s winning run of late in their animated classics. This is a buddy cop movie, a story about unlikely friendships, and a powerful (if a little simplistic) allegory for racism, prejudice, and discrimination. Pitching the idea of a world where all the animals live together in a communal city, it created a brilliant world, which is certainly open for more stories, and allowed for some incredibly clever and funny jokes. The central friendship between Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde is where Zootopia goes to another level. It’s a wonderful relationship that develops incredibly naturally over the course of the film, is more complex than the average relation in a Disney film. I do hope that Disney continue to make original films like Zootopia because they are wonderful, thought provoking films for younger viewers.
9) Iron Man 3 – I’m a big fan of most of Iron Man 3, it is a Marvel film that offers something very different from most of the first two phases due to Shane Black’s unique voice as the writer and director. I would put Iron Man 3 around the same level as The Winter Soldier as both are very distinct from any other MCU film, and are amazing right up until the finales, which lets them down a little. In Iron Man 3’s case that means the moment where the film descends into a lot of Iron Man suits flying around fighting people who can shoot fire. The different suits are cool, but it is not a great scene. Before that however the film is great. Robert Downey Jr. is always outstanding in the role, but in this case he’s able to bring an extra dimension to Tony Stark as he suffers from some kind of trauma following the events of The Avengers. I also love the fact that Shane Black took Tony out of the suit for so much of the film, and let him truly stand up as his own character, not just Iron Man. The controversial moment of the film is obviously the Mandarin twist, something that I loved. It was hilarious, shocking, and oh so very Shane Black.
8) Frozen – Frozen is a film that I feel took a little unfair heat because of just how successful it, and particularly the song ‘Let It Go’ became. If you look beyond that it’s actually a Disney film that a heart warming story about the bond of sisterhood, self empowerment, and being who you are. Is it a little cheesy at time? Of course it is, it’s a Disney film, but that’s fine, it’s still a wonderful and enjoyable film. I love the central relationship between Anna and Elsa, it was fantastic to see Disney focus on a familial relationship for a change, and I think it was handled excellently by directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee. Some people aren’t big fans of Josh Gad’s Olaf, but I found him to be a hilarious supporting comedy character. It every song on the soundtrack is an absolute winner, but I don’t think that any are bad, and in songs like ‘Do You Want To Build A Snowman?’ there are some truly great ones.
7) The Avengers – The Avengers is an incredibly odd film in that it is hugely flawed, but because of its place as the first big crossover event like it, it is actually a hugely beloved and still incredibly rewatchable film. It’s easy to forgive the boring 10 minute opening, the whole set piece based around fixing an engine, and the cliché ridden finale (seriously The Avengers has a sky beam, although thankfully no space cloud monster), because to see those characters all interacting on screen really for the first time was so special, that it will always be a huge favourite. The dynamics between Tony, Steve, Thor, and Bruce/Hulk were incredibly realised by Joss Whedon, and the partnerships he managed to form with them informed stuff films later, such as Hulk and Thor’s rivalry informing Thor Ragnarok. I think The Avengers had such huge pressure to deliver, and it captured the fun and dynamics that the MCU need it to, whilst also setting up everything that has built to Infinity War this year.
6) Captain America: Civil War – Civil War might be the best MCU film to date, the film is so well constructed around the Avenger’s character arcs, so that you completely understand every one of their motives for the sides they chose through the film. I love the disintegration of Tony and Steve’s friendship, and the brilliant heartbreaking performance that Robert Downey Jr gives as he learns of Bucky’s involvement in his parent’s death, and Steve’s decision to stand by him. I also think Daniel Brühl’s Zemo was a fantastic character. Someone who’s hatred of the Avengers was understandable given the history of the MCU, and who presented a different kind of challenge, manipulating the Avengers into fighting one another, as he was unable to take them on physically. In the end I through I think the entire pick a side stuff the marketing was pushing turned out to be futile because neither Tony nor Steve’s side was really in the right, and both handle the situation poorly. What really needs to be talked about however is the airport scene. That was just something truly special, and one of the greatest action sequences ever put to film, and makes Civil War worth watching for that alone.
5) Black Panther – The Newest entry into the $1 Billion club is one of the best MCU entries to date. I actually think that Captain America: Civil War is a better film, as there is less I would nitpick about it, but I enjoyed Black Panther a little more, although it is close on that count. Ryan Coogler truly achieved something special, as his film smashed a ton of box office record, and continued Marvel’s strong push with the Phase 3 films. I love the journey T’Challa goes on learning how to be a king, particularly in how to deal with other countries, finding that middle path between shutting them out and controlling them. Michael B Jordan as the villain Killmonger stole every scene he was in. He was a character whose motives were easy to understand and sympathise with, but who methods made him wrong. Jordan brought such intensity to the character that he is easily one of the strongest characters the MCU has produced to date. The supporting cast was all great, and characters like Okoye and Shuri have quickly become fan favourites.
4) Star Wars: The Last Jedi – I’m sure there is absolutely nothing controversial about this pick being so high whatsoever, because no one has strong feeling on this film… In all honesty though I understand that this is a film that has divided the fan base, but for me The Last Jedi stands up as the best Star Wars film since the 1977 original. I love the arcs that all the main characters; Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo, and Luke go through during the film, and where it leaves the Star Wars saga. Rian Johnson’s film maybe one of the most visually beautiful films to look at from the franchise, but it also raises some of the most interesting themes. The film looks at the importance of legacy and legends, what it means to be a great leader, and the fact that war isn’t just a black and white and good vs. evil story, something the franchise has been needing. I also loved the decision around Rey’s parents. What was important about the question of who there were was never actually the answer, but how much finding the answer was driving Rey, and Rian’s choice was the one that would hurt her the most, but also be the most uplifting and empowering to the young people watching. This is what The Last Jedi did that other Star Wars films didn’t, it told you that you didn’t have to be some chosen one to be a hero, and it would be a great shame if Episode IX went back on that message.
3) The Dark Knight – This list is one that has a large number of Superhero films on it, but the daddy of them all is still Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, a film which transcends the ‘superhero film’ tag. For me a lot of the great Joker stories with Batman are about the struggle between their ideologies, and that is what we have in The Dark Knight. The Joker’s master plan is not about taking over or destroying the city, it is about proving that he’s correct about humanity, and proving that all people can become just as twisted as him. Heath Ledger came into that role and delivered something so special, so powerful, and so magnetic that it has rightfully gone down as one of the greatest performances of all time. I also find myself completely disagreeing with people who say The Dark Knight isn’t a Batman movie, because everything the Joker does is focused on Batman, and proving Batman is wrong. Of course the Joker ends up becoming so memorable, that is what you get when an actor gives a performance as memorable as Heath Ledger’s.
2) Jurassic Park – In my opinion Jurassic Park is the perfect mix of a brilliant blockbuster and an intelligent Science-Fiction film. What too many of the sequels have missed is the memorable characters and big ideas behind the first Jurassic Park. Sure it is on the surface a ‘run away from dinosaurs movie’ but in actual fact there are interesting discussion to be had from the film about how far science should go, man’s relationship with nature, and how the hell can velociraptors operate door handles? Ok maybe not the last one. All the characters in the film are brilliant, layered, and memorable with each one getting moments that will make you remember them. The other thing about Jurassic Park is that it is genuinely scary. The animatronic dinosaurs still hold up well against the CGI you see in many modern films, and because they were so expensive to use Spielberg had to hold them back, making them so much more effective when they did appear. A lot of the sequels may have become generic monster movies, but the original Jurassic Park holds up as a work of pure genius and one of the great blockbusters.
1) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – It shouldn’t really be a shock to anyone that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King tops my list of billion dollar films. The Lord of the Rings is my favourite book and series of films, and given that Return of the King is the only entry to have grossed $1 Billion it had to top my list. The film is the epic conclusion to one of the greatest cinematic masterpieces ever created, and in The Battle of the Pelennor Fields manages to match what had previously been achieved with Helms Deep. Return of the King is also the one where Aragorn, as the rightful king of Gondor, and Sam really come into their own as the standout characters of the franchise. Some people complain about all the endings the film has, but with so many key characters’ stories to end there has to be. For me The Lord of the Rings is pure cinematic joy, and no other film could possibly top this list.