The Movie Star Worth $30 Billion Is Not Who Anyone Expects

By Jason Collins | Updated

One would assume that the highest-grossing movies, such as Avatar, Avengers: Endgame, or Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would feature some of the highest-grossing actors in the movie industry. If you made such assumptions, you wouldn’t be wrong. Scarlett Johansson truly is the highest-grossing actress—if we were to account for lead roles alone. However, if we’re to include cameos and voice acting, the number one movie star that’s worth $30 billion is none other than Stan Lee.

Stan Lee

stan lee

The father of Marvel Comics posthumously became the highest box-office-grossing actor of all time, earning a staggering worldwide total of $30 billion across 50 different movies. Stan Lee, best known for his legion of superheroes, made a number of cameo appearances in Marvel movies over the years, which has propelled him to the top of the list of highest-grossing actors (the one which also includes cameos), allowing him to surpass some of the most iconic and enduring names in Hollywood, including Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson.

Stan Lee’s Highest Grossing Film

This is truly a remarkable feat, especially considering the nature of Lee’s contributions to the movies alone—his appearances were limited to cameos alone, so he didn’t headline any single title in the MCU. However, the nature of his contributions also doesn’t reflect on credited and headline roles alone, considering that he conceived many modern superheroes we enjoy reading and watching. Avengers: Endgame, the crown jewel that signals Stan Lee’s enduring love for superhero narratives, managed to rake in eyewatering $2.8 billion alone, standing as Lee’s highest-grossing film of all time.

A Legacy

Stan Lee’s posthumous accomplishment underlines the massive impact he had on the movie industry and popular culture, and while he wasn’t an actor in an official capacity, Lee’s cameo appearances also have a symbolic meaning. Many consider his short and often humorous appearances to be the passing of the torch from the creators to the very creation he helped bring into the world. However, we also want to add that the $30 billion isn’t adjusted for inflation, so adjusting the total could be significantly more impressive.

Earned Around $40 Billion In Movie Roles

Despite our love for math, statistics, and data, we won’t adjust those numbers for the purpose of this particular report. However, we’ll reference worldwide box office earnings of 2008’s Iron Man, which initially sat at $585.4 million, or between $828.47 and $868.98 million adjusted for inflation—the latter figure is an estimated average for 2024, using the average annual inflation rate of 2.5%. And that’s for Ironman alone. So, accounting for the remaining 49 movies, it’s easy to imagine the total gross going as high as $40 billion.

A Title Well Earned

Even after his passing, Stan Lee remains one of the most beloved creatives in history and a mastermind behind many of the characters portrayed by other highest-grossing actors, such as Scarlett Johansson, Chris Pratt, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and even Bradley Cooper. Ultimately, Lee’s contributions to the MCU cement his place in box office history and in the hearts of countless fans who cherish the fictional world he helped create.