When Victoria Alonso left her hometown of La Plata, Argentina, and moved to the United States, she dreamed of becoming a movie actress. Instead, fate led her to the world of visual effects.
After proving her chops in this sector, Alonso, 56, joined Marvel Studios in 2005, where she has served as an executive producer on every Marvel movie since The Avengers in 2012. In 2021, Alonso — recognized this year with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Vision Award, sponsored by AARP — was promoted to president of physical, post production, VFX and animation. Here is a recap of her 10 greatest box office hits.
Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
The third (and latest) installment in the newest Spider-Man franchise dives deep into the multiverse concept, with all three Spider-Men from series history joining up to fight past villains. As if the plot weren’t complicated enough, along comes Dr. Strange, played by the outstanding Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s a far-fetched idea, but the product is sleek, colorful and dazzling. The bottom line? It's the sixth highest-grossing film of all time, at $2 billion.
Spider-Man: Far from Home (2019)
Marvel shifted the narrative framework for Spider-Man with the story of an idealistic teenager who fights the forces of evil and joins up with the Avengers. It’s a lighthearted, fun take on the character, which plays on his life as a high school student. This adventure comedy has him vacationing in Venice with his best friends. The film’s success is driven by the on-screen charisma of actors Tom Holland, Zendaya and Jacob Batalon. The film grossed about $1.1 billion.
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Captain Marvel (2019)
As the Marvel mythology continues to grow, perhaps the best part has been the emergence of superheroes who are not as well-known as the über-famous Thor and Captain America. Captain Marvel and her amazing superpowers, for example, brought a fresh appeal to a scheme involving otherworldly characters. True to form, the special effects are lavish, but none of it would work without the charm that Brie Larson brings to the starring role. This film grossed over $1.1 billion.
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
After 21 films with an increasingly complex and sometimes contradictory narrative, Avengers: Endgame brought the most ambitious saga in history to a conclusion — a lively extravaganza reminiscent of an Italian opera. The time-travel theme doesn’t make much sense, and some of the characters end on a dubious note, but the emotional impact of this extraordinary film is hard to resist. Beyond the special effects, camerawork and solid script, the performances of superstars the likes of Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo transform this ending into something beyond mere entertainment. Not surprisingly, this film has taken in nearly $3 billion worldwide.
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Infinity War, which lays the groundwork for the grand finale in Avengers: Endgame, is not exactly a work of art, but it is a fantastic display of cinematic artistry. In this 19th installment of the Marvel saga, the challenge was to strike a balance between suspense and comedy, as well as clearly mapping out the actions and decisions that bring all these superheroes together in their desperate mission to save the universe. The least-convincing aspect is the villainous character of Thanos, who collects all six Infinity Stones in an attempt to destroy half of all living beings. The battle scenes are a lavish display of adrenaline and motion. This film grossed just over $2 billion.
Black Panther (2018)
Black Panther is the most revolutionary and innovative film in the Marvel canon. In a long-overdue Hollywood first, director and cowriter Ryan Coogler created an African American superhero who is faithful to his roots, yet still universal. He did so by focusing on Afrofuturism, a dynamic fusion of African folklore, elements of science fiction and a soundtrack featuring the most progressive edge of hip-hop. At times it feels like a James Bond film, but it also measures up perfectly to Marvel’s epic standards. Sadly, its lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, passed away in 2020 at age 43. This film grossed an estimated $1.3 billion worldwide.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
With superpowers comes great responsibility, which can sometimes be too much to bear. A weighty moral argument adds complexity to this engrossing conclusion to the Captain America trilogy (these three films, taken together, may be Marvel’s best to date). The plot unfolds in a new reality, rife with paranoia and mixed feelings. The seemingly inevitable intra-superhero civil war ultimately breaks out, and the final showdown between Iron Man and Captain America is violent and unforgettable. This film grossed about $1.1 billion.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
After the high-energy sequence of explosions and special effects in The Avengers, keeping up the excitement in a sequel seemed to be an impossible mission. But writer and director Joss Whedon pulled it off by focusing on a smart concept full of possibilities: the idea of an artificial entity that rebels, takes on bodily form and decides to destroy humanity as the way to save planet Earth. And Ultron plants the seeds for the inner conflict that would provide the basis for a future film in the saga. This film grossed around $1.4 billion.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Much of the beauty in Marvel’s storytelling lies in building upon everything that came earlier. Up until the moment when the writers began to muddle the plotlines with the introduction of infinite multiverses (implying that no event is actually very important), the scaffolding of parallel stories was stunning. Released in 2013, the third installment in the Iron Man series leans heavily on our prior knowledge of the hero, his strengths and weaknesses. Ben Kingsley shines as the Mandarin, a villain who is more than meets the eye. This film took in about $1.2 billion.
The Avengers (2012)
More than an excellent action-adventure flick, The Avengers scored a cinematic feat: It was preceded by five films that invested the time and patience to lay out in detail the individual stories of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Incredible Hulk. When all of these characters come together — along with Black Widow and Hawkeye — to turn back an extraterrestrial threat, the viewer’s empathy is absolute. This film grossed over $1.5 billion; it was the third greatest opening-weekend box office hit of all time, and the highest-grossing film of 2012.
Ernesto Lechner is a contributing writer who covers music, film and culture. A frequent contributor to the Latin Grammy Awards, his work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Rolling Stone and Billboard, among other major publications.