The 20 Most Successful Superhero Movies of All Time

The superhero genre is one of the most successful in the movie industry’s history. It has been dominated by a small number of franchises, which include Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, Ironman and Superman. As measured by total U.S box office receipts of the top 20 superhero movies, 14 are based on one or more of these characters.

The list of the top 20 superhero movies, according to Box Office Mojo:

Rank                                                                       Studio          Lifetime Gross          Year of Releases
1 Marvel’s The Avengers                                     BV                 $623,357,910            2012
2 The Dark Knight                                               WB               $534,858,444            2008
3 Avengers: Age of Ultron                                  BV                 $459,005,868           2015
4 The Dark Knight Rises                                    WB                $448,139,099            2012
5 Iron Man 3                                                         BV                 $409,013,994            2013
6 Captain America: Civil War                            BV                 $408,084,349           2016
7 Spider-Man                                                        Sony              $403,706,375            2002
8 Spider-Man 2                                                    Sony              $373,585,825             2004
9 Deadpool                                                            Fox                $363,070,709            2016
10 Spider-Man 3                                                   Sony             $336,530,303            2007
11 Guardians of the Galaxy                                 BV                 $333,176,600            2014
12 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice        WB               $330,360,194            2016
13 Suicide Squad                                                   WB               $325,100,054            2016
14 Iron Man                                                            Par.              $318,412,101             2008
15 Iron Man 2                                                         Par.              $312,433,331            2010
16 Man of Steel                                                      WB               $291,045,518            2013
17 The Amazing Spider-Man                              Sony             $262,030,663          2012
18 The Incredibles                                                 BV                $261,441,092           2004
19 Captain America: The Winter Soldier          BV                $259,766,572           2014
20 Batman                                                              WB                $251,188,924          1989

Batman and Spider-Man in particular show how long-lived movies based one character can be. The first Batman movie in the list was released in 1989 and the most recent in 2016. The first Spider-Man movie on the list was released in 2012.

One other notable fact is that movies that involve the same set of superheros also dominate the list of the top 50 superheros. Eight of the films in the genre are in the numbers 21 to 50 positions based on U.S. gross.

Buena Vista is part of Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and shows the genius of the Disney purchase of Marvel Entertainment in 2009. Buena Vista films represent seven of the top 20 movies. And, DC Comics has been part of Time Warner Inc.’s (NYSE: TWX) Warner Bros. studio since 1968. The value of the purchase shows up on the top 20 list as well. Six of the films on the list were produced by Warner Bros., and all but two are part of the Batman franchise.

In a sign of how much studios can milk these franchises, a new Batman movie is due in 2018. Spider-Man: Homecoming is due out in 2019.

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