For as long as there have been superheroes, there have been arguments about which ones would win in a fight. And ever since there have been superhero movies, that same immature “My dad can whip your dad” impulse has applied to box office success as well as supernatural might. Reddit user BradGroux has posted a handy pie chart that makes these schoolyard arguments a lot easier, breaking down the domestic U.S. grosses of the 13 most successful comic book franchises, complete with the simple iconography and bold primary colors that have made superheroes the preferred genre of small children and movie studio executives for decades.
Unsurprising, given the character’s ongoing popularity and the number of movies he’s starred in, Batman takes up the largest part of the chart, with almost $2 billion in domestic earnings. His future Batman Vs. Superman co-star Superman comes in at a distant fourth with only $809 million to his name. And that’s pretty much it for DC Comics, as its other recent attempts to get into the superhero movie game (Green Lantern, Jonah Hex, Catwoman) failed to crack the list, trailing behind Marvel’s first surprising movie franchise success story, the vampires-dancing-in-rave-clubs-with-showers-of-blood-and-then-Wesley-Snipes-kills-them-with-wrestling-moves trilogy of Blade movies.
Indeed, with the exception of Mirage Studios’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the rest of the list belongs to Marvel. That includes both those movies produced by Marvel Studios as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with The Avengers taking up a sizable chunk of the chart all by itself) and those produced by other studios, like Columbia’s Spider-Man films and Fox’s X-Men franchise. While the chart isn't definitive by any means, it does make clear the difficulties DC has had in leveraging its beloved characters on the big screen, especially in comparison to Marvel’s success.
A few caveats, though: The chart’s data doesn't include box office receipts from this weekend, when The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier racked up another $92,000,000 and $7,762,000 for their respective characters. It also doesn't adjust for inflation, meaning that movies like 1989’s Batman and the original Superman film, whose $134 million 1978 domestic gross would be worth roughly $436 million today, are underrepresented.
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