January 6, 2022

2021: A Marvel of a year

Key insights in this post:

– From Jan. 1 through Dec. 21, 9.9% of the audience that engaged with any movie or TV show in 2021 also engaged with a Marvel title

– Marvel properties released or announced in 2021 captured 17.1% of all engagements around TV and movies during the year

– Daily audience engagement leading up to the premiere of Spider-Man: No Way Home dwarfed that of the other Marvel films and other big box office hits in 2021

Marvel was a big driver of TV and movie engagements in 2021

There’s no doubt that Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe got off to an explosive start in 2021, from the January premiere of WandaVision to the smashing box office success of Spider-Man: No Way Home in December.

But just how popular was Marvel content last year? We dug into the analytics and discovered that, as of Dec. 21, 9.9% of the audience that engaged with any movie or TV show in 2021 also engaged with a Marvel title. And from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 17.1% of all TV and movie engagements were around Marvel properties released or announced in 2021. That’s notable, considering just how vast the entertainment landscape has become given the steady flow of new content from streaming services, traditional networks and theatrical releases.  


Much has been written about the positive audience reception of WandaVision and other MCU live-action series of 2021, but another way to measure success is by looking at breakout hits — titles that had limited pre-launch engagement but then saw a dramatic increase in conversation following the premiere. We analyzed all streaming releases from Jan. 1 to Dec. 21, 2021 and found that Marvel’s What If…? made the top ten list of breakout hits, alongside the likes of Young Royals, Squid Game and Mare of Easttown. This animated anthology show had 130 post-premiere engagements for every 1 pre-premiere engagement.  

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ was a clear winner for audience engagement

Marvel closed out the year with a bang: Spider-Man: No Way Home racked up an astounding $260 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend, putting it squarely in second place for the biggest North American movie debut ever, behind Avengers: Endgame ($357 million). Not only that, over Christmas No Way Home crossed the $1 billion milestone to become the biggest pandemic-era film worldwide.

Looking at daily audience engagements, No Way Home dwarfs the other three Marvel films that were released this year, as well as other big box office hits including Venom: Let There Be Carnage and F9: The Fast Saga.


As 2021 fades into the rearview mirror, there’s still a bright horizon ahead for Marvel: Three movies have planned 2022 releases, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and multiple miniseries are scheduled for premieres as well. Here at Diesel, we’re looking forward to following the trajectory of these much-anticipated titles and discovering which ones capture audience attention at a remarkable scale.