the all time worldwide box office list. It is now behind only Avatar, Titanic, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. I can't see it catching up with the phenomenal grosses obtained by Avatar and Titanic, both over $2 billion, but it now looks like it will move into third place over the next couple of months: in fact, an eventual gross around $1.5 billion appears likely (at least to me).
In inflation-adjusted terms, The Avengers is still be well behind classics like Gone with the Wind and Star Wars. In fact, The Avengers currently ranks "only" 61st on the American domestic market in inflation-adjusted terms - but its success is still enormously impressive, and there's more loot to come. Also impressively, a high proportion of the worldwide loot is coming from markets outside the US - the movie has captured imaginations all across the world.
Whatever criticisms we might have of The Avengers, its commercial success has been phenomenal ... and if you've been reading here over the past month you'll see that this has been a subject of fascination for me as I've watched the huge numbers of dollars accumulate. Here, it's been Avengers month! I'm sure that much of the movie's success lies with one of its great strengths, namely the extent to which it is (able to get away with being) faithful to its source material in the depiction of the characters. The continued use by the franchise of high-quality actors has doubtless helped, and they have delivered strong performances to lend plausibility to the much-larger-than-life figures we see on the screen (but hey, many movies have high-quality actors delivering strong performances!).
I like to think that the relatively woman-friendly aspect of the movie has also helped a bit: the script, the direction, and Scarlett Johansson's performance have all shown that it's possible to portray a female superhero in a manner that appeals to both sexes. There's also a solid performance by Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill. (And in her brief appearances at the bookends of the movie, Gwyneth Paltrow's version of smart, capable Pepper Potts is just fine as a counterpoint to Robert Downey, Jr.'s Iron Man/Tony Stark.) Other directors, writers, etc., might take note of this. Of course, the movie is still a sausage fest, but what portrayals of women we do see show the characters in question as highly competent and by no means out of place in the drama.
While I'm not sure what all this indicates for the future, it seems that superhero genre is far from being a spent force in cinema. The success of The Avengers opens up many questions about future directions for the genre - so, what is needed to maintain the good will of the public for it at this unprecedented level, or to take it even further?