“Iron Man 3” proved this weekend that Marvel superhero films still have legs even when they are not called “The Avengers.” The Tony Stark-centric superhero flick opened with gross receipts of $175 million in its opening weekend, more than than 20 times the box-office take of the weekend’s second most popular movie, “Pain and Gain.”

“Iron Man 3” came close to setting a record for the biggest opening weekend of all time, according to Box Office Mojo. The only film with a bigger gross was another Marvel flick featuring Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man: “The Avengers,” the blockbuster superhero movie released around the same time last year.

It might appear surprising, but the success of “Iron Man 3” makes perfect sense. After “The Avengers” conquered the world last year by bringing together Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and other Marvel superheroes, more people than ever are interested in Tony Stark’s lovably narcissistic escapades.

While “Iron Man 2” showed some definite signs of wear and tear, the new film’s director, Shane Black, proved he knew exactly how to reinvigorate the most innovative superhero franchise in the world. Black, who previously worked with Downey in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,” kept the focus on Tony Stark’s human side while giving Downey a strong mix of action and comedy with which to work. The plot might be a little convoluted, but, ultimately, it’s a movie with heart -- and the box office backed up Black’s approach.

The domestic earnings for “Iron Man 3” certainly sound impressive (and they are), but they are almost nothing compared with the film’s global gross receipts. In its first weekend, “Iron Man 3” made a mind-blowing additional $505 million in foreign markets, giving it a total gross of $680 million.

“Iron Man 3” may not be as popular as “The Avengers” in the U.S., but the movie’s runaway success proves that Marvel can make bucketloads of profit off its superhero adventures for years to come. Marvel has plenty more in production -- including this summer’s “Thor 2” and next summer’s “Captain America 2” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” -- so the ridiculous success of “Iron Man 3” must be seen as a sure sign for studio executives that they’re doing something right.

Besides “Iron Man 3,” the weekend box office was comparatively dull. The second highest-grossing film, Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain,” made only $7.6 million. 

Here are the top 10 box-office results for the weekend, according to Box Office Mojo:

“Iron Man 3,” $175.30 million

“Pain and Gain,” $7.60 million

“42,” $6.21 million

“Oblivion,” $5.80 million

“The Croods,” $4.23 million

“The Big Wedding,” $3.88 million

“Mud,” $2.15 million

“Oz: The Great and Powerful,” $1.82 million

“Scary Movie 5,” $1.44 million

“The Place Beyond the Pines,” $1.30 million