Iron Man 3 doesn't open in the U.S. until the end of this week, but it's already kicked off a big following, legally, across the globe — and, very illegally, on the Internet. Welcome to summer movie season a little early, brought to you by Marvel's bullish international market... and pirates. Which begs the early question: Can Tony Stark leverage his team effort last summer in The Avengers to beat it at the box office?

The third Iron Man installation has already proven overseas that the franchise can stand on its own, or at least on the shoulders of giants: Iron Man 3 grossed an estimated $195.3 million internationally for its first five days in 42 territories. According to Deadline it's "the #1 film in every market and is the biggest opening weekend of all time in Asia Pacific and Latin America" — and Iron Man 3 still has yet to open up in Russia, China, and Germany. In The Avengers' first five days in 39 territories it made $185.1 million. Although it's worth noting, as Adam B. Vary at BuzzFeed does, that "Japanese moviegoers had to wait three months before The Avengers opened in their country — Iron Man 3 suffered no such delay." The Avengers went on to become the third highest grossing movie of all time.

According to Keith Simanton, the managing editor of IMDb, which owns the definitive blockbuster business site Box Office Mojo, this earl success proves that "this is not being viewed as an Iron Man sequel as much as an Avengers sequel." Simanton explained that since Iron Man 2 was not that well received, the overseas box office shows that people are connecting Iron Man 3 more with The Avengers, which was obviously an enormous success. Disney also sent Robert Downey Jr. on a world tour to promote his new film, so that isn't hurting. Will this sentiment translate for the rest of Marvel's Phase 2? "It's a good business to be in," Simanton told The Atlantic Wire this afternoon. 

But can Iron Man top The Avengers? Simanton isn't so sure. "It's a dark film," he told the Wire. "I think that's going to prevent it from being in the same $1.5 billion range" as The Avengers. The main Iron Man 3 villain is the Mandarin, a terrorist, Simanton explained. The Avengers fought aliens. But The Avengers' gross, he said, is "just crazy level" and he still thinks that Iron Man 3 will make around $600 million internationally and $400 million domestically.

Iron Man is also having success, of sorts, online. This morning TorrentFreak reported that Iron Man 3 was the third most downloaded on BitTorrent for the week ending April 28, after Jack Reacher and The Last Stand. Those two films came out in December and January, respectively, and according to Eriq Gardner at The Hollywood Reporter, the torrented version of Iron Man 3 appears to be a bootleg recorded on a camcorder, which is "known for being of inferior quality to alternatives in piracy circles." 

We suggest just waiting until Friday when it opens here. Not that Disney needs your money.