When The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) acquired Marvel in 2009, it would have been difficult to imagine the success that has come out of that deal. Over the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has produced 18 films that have grossed $14.7 billion in worldwide box office, and its characters have become household names.

It's no wonder the superheroes in these films have become an enduring part of pop culture, not only among the original comic book fans that are grownups with kids of their own, but also among the movie-going public at large.

Now the Earth's mightiest heroes are getting a hero's welcome at Disneyland.

Disneyland castle lit up at night during the winter.

Disneyland will be getting some new additions. Image source: Author.

A worldwide expansion

Disney announced that the Avengers would assemble in new themed areas at Disneyland Resort, Disneyland Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

"At Disneyland Resort, the new Super Hero-themed land will begin recruiting guests in 2020, with even more new experiences to follow," the company said in its statement. Disney's California Adventure already houses the Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction, which will be joined by Spider-Man and the Avengers to provide a "completely immersive Super Hero universe." 

Hong Kong Disneyland is already in the throes of superhero fever, with the Iron Man Experience, the first ever Marvel-themed ride at a Disney park. Visitors can become Iron Man at the Stark Expo, and ride the Iron Wing. which allows visitors to take "a thrilling aerial tour of the city to get a unique perspective of the latest and tallest addition to the Hong Kong Skyline -- Hong Kong Stark Tower." The attraction is already the most popular at the resort. Iron Man will be joined by Ant-Man and The Wasp in the coming months

The company has similar plans for Disneyland Paris, part of a multi-year, 2 billion euro expansion Disney announced last month. The park will feature a new Marvel-themed area "where riders will team up with Iron Man and their favorite Avengers on a hyper-kinetic adventure in 2020." Disneyland Paris already has big plans, hosting the Marvel Summer of Super Heroes, an event which will run from June through September, and mark the finale of the parks 25th anniversary celebration.


Disney's heroes

Disney announced the acquisition of Marvel in Aug. 2009, and in less than a decade, the company has had a lasting impact on the House of Mouse.

Of the 33 movies that have achieved more than $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales, Disney produced more than half of those, and the Marvel moniker appears on five. The company's most recent box office smash, Black Panther, has moved up to No. 14 on the all-time global box office list, and should have topped Iron Man 3 to move up another place by the time you read this.

Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Title

Worldwide Box Office

Domestic Ticket Sales

Marvel's The Avengers

$1.52 billion

$623 million

Avengers: Age of Ultron

$1.40 billion

$459 million

Iron Man 3

$1.21 billion

$409 million

Black Panther

$1.20 billion

$610 million

Captain America: Civil War

$1.15 billion

$408 million

Spider-Man: Homecoming*

$880 million

$334 million

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

$864 million

$390 million

Thor: Ragnarok

$854 million

$315 million

Guardians of the Galaxy

$773 million

$333 million

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

$714 million

$260 million

Doctor Strange

$678 million

$233 million

Thor: The Dark World

$645 million

$206 million

Iron Man 2

$624 million

$312 million

Iron Man

$585 million

$318 million


$519 million

$180 million


$449 million

$181 million

Captain America: The First Avenger

$371 million

$177 million

The Incredible Hulk

$263 million

$135 million


$14.7 billion

$5.9 billion

Data source: Box Office Mojo. Chart by Author. *Marvel Studios produced Spider-Man: Homecoming on behalf of Sony, which retains the rights to the character. In exchange for the deal, Spider-Man appeared as a character in MCU movies. 

The next addition to the billion-dollar club will likely be Avengers: Infinity War, which will debut April 27, 2018. Advanced ticket sales have already broken the record set by Black Panther, and will be the culmination of a decade-long story arc.

Looking ahead

If you're a fan of the superhero genre, fear not. Beyond Infinity War, Ant-Man and The Wasp will debut this year, followed by Captain Marvel and an untitled Avengers film in 2019. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said, "we've got another 20 movies on the docket that are completely different from anything that's come before -- intentionally." In the same interview, Disney CEO Bob Iger chimed in saying, "We're looking for worlds that are completely separate -- geographically or in time -- from the worlds that we've already visited."

When asked about the future of the MCU and its characters, Feige recounted a story about none other than Walt Disney. "On opening day, when people asked Mr. Walt Disney if Disneyland was finished, he said, as long as there's imagination in the world, Disney will never be complete."

Looks like Marvel will be adding to Disney's coffers for years to come.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.