Superhero films have become so popular that they now have their own genre, the superhero genre. Most of the superheroes featured in these films have actually been around for decades. Action Comic’s #1 was published in 1938 and featured the first superhero, Superman. The comic books became so successful that they would often be spun off into a film. It wasn’t until the late 90’s and early 2000’s, that superhero films became a common thing. Before that, there were only a few superhero films made every year. Many credit the explosion of the superhero genre with the first X-Men film in 2000. More studios saw the potential in superhero films and would take the risk in producing them. Here is a look at 10 of the Highest Grossing Superhero Films in North America.
10) Tim Burton’s Batman – $251,188,924
Tim Burton’s Batman was released June 23, 1989 and starred Michael Keaton as Batman, with Jack Nicholson as The Joker. At the time, the film was a cultural phenomenon and did extremely well at the box office. The casting of Michael Keaton, who was known for comedies at the time, was met with an enormous amount of controversy, with fans of the comic book, going as far to start a petition. A similar situation has also occurred with the announcement of Ben Affleck playing the role of Batman in the upcoming, Batman Vs Superman film. However, Michael Keaton’s performance was met with positive reviews but critics felt that film focused too much on the Joker. Regardless, it remains one of the most memorable superhero films of all time. A sequel, Batman Returns, was released in 1992.
9) Captain America: Winter Soldier – $258,848,387
Captain America: Winter Solider is a sequel to the 2011 film, Captain America: The First Avenger. It is the ninth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is a shared fictional universe. Much like the Marvel comic books, the characters, plots and other elements crossover into other films. The first phase of films cumulated in the first Avengers movie, which saw Captain America join forces with Iron Man, Thor and The Hulk. Captain America: Winter Solider was released April 4, 2014 and stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/ Captain America. The film did very well at the box office, it was both a critical and commercial success. A third film is currently in the works with directors, Anthony and Joe Russo set to return. Captain America will also appear in the upcoming film, The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron
8) The Incredibles – $261,441,092
The Incredibles is an animated superhero film, released on November 5, 2004. The film is written and directed by Brad Bird. The plot follows a family of superheroes trying to hide their abilities and live a normal life. Mr. Incredible, voiced by Craig T. Nelson, is going through a midlife crisis and draws his family back into the crime fighting world. The film won several awards, including two Academy Awards and was the first animated film to win the Hugo Award.
7) The Amazing Spider-Man – $262,030,663
The Amazing Spider-Man was released on July 3, 2012 and was a reboot of the franchise. The film stars Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-man, and was directed by Marc Webb. The plot follows Spider-man’s origin story, starting when he was a teenager. The film did well at the box office, but did meet some negative reviews from fans who didn’t like the new portrayal of Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released in 2014.
6) Man of Steel – $291,045,518
Man of Steel was released on June 14, 2013 and was a reboot of the Superman Film Series. Richard Donner’s Superman, from 1978, is credited as the first big budget superhero film. Man of Steel was directed by Zack Snyder and starred Henry Cavill as Superman. The film was a box office success but received mixed reviews from some critics. It’s the first film in the shared DC Cinematic Universe, which is similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. A sequel is excepted in 2016, that will see the Man of Steel face off against The Dark Knight in a comic book fans’ dream come true, Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Henry Cavill will return as Superman and Ben Affleck will play Batman. A Justice League film is also in the works. Man of Steal is currently the highest grossing Superman movie ever made.
5) Iron Man/ Iron Man 2 – $318,412,101 /$312,128,345
Iron Man was the first film in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was directed by Jon Favreau and starred Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. It was released May 2, 2008 and was a critical and commercial success. The plot focuses on Iron Man’s origin story.
The sequel, Iron Man 2, also directed by Jon Favreau, was released May 7, 2010. It was a critical and commercial success but some felt it didn’t live up to the first film. It is the third film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
4) Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Series – $403,706,375/ $373,585,825/ $336,530,303
Spider-Man was a financial and critical success that was released on May 3, 2002. The film was universally praised and at the time, was the most successful superhero film. It starred Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker/Spider-man. It brought in $821,708,551 worldwide and is the 41 highest grossing film of all time, worldwide. The plot was faithful to the comic book and focuses on Spider-Man’s origin story.
The success of the first film led the sequel, Spider-Man 2, released on June 30, 2004. The plot followed Peter, as he struggles with juggling his personal life and his secret crime fighting life. The film grossed $783,766,341 worldwide and is the 49th highest grossing film of all time, worldwide.
Spider-Man 3 was the final film in the trilogy. It was released May 4, 2007 and is considered Marvel’s third most successful film. However, it received mixed reviews for its plot and was criticized for having too many characters. Regardless, the film did very well at the box office, bringing in $890,871,626 worldwide and it is the 32nd highest grossing film of all time.
3) Iron Man 3 – $409,013,994
Iron Man 3 was released on May 3, 2013 and did very well at the box office. It was both a critical and commercial success. The film features Tony Stark/Iron Man, recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the events of the first Avengers film, while he investigates a terrorist cell. The film made $1,215,439,994 worldwide and is the 6th highest grossing film of all time, worldwide. It is the third film in the Iron Man series and is the 7th film in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe.
2) The Dark Knight/ The Dark Knight Rises – $534.858,444/ $448,139,009
The Dark Knight is considered by many critics and fans, to be the greatest superhero film ever made. It was released July 18, 2008 and is the second film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. It is the sequel to Batman Begins, released in 2005, which was a reboot of the Batman franchise. It made $1,004,558,444 worldwide and it’s the 18th highest grossing film of all time worldwide. The plot followed Batman, as he battled the psychopath, The Joker. It also introduced the origin story of Harvey Dent/Two Face. The film starred Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as The Joker. Heath Ledger died six months before the film’s release, from a drug overdose. He received an Academy Award posthumously for his critically acclaimed portrayal of The Joker.
The Dark Knight Rises is the final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Series. It brought in $1,084,429, 009 worldwide and is currently the 10th highest grossing film worldwide. It was a critical and commercial success that brought a conclusion to the trilogy. Christian Bale repeated his role as Batman and saw the additions of Bane and Catwomen, played by Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway.
1) The Avengers – $623,357,910
The Avengers is currently the highest grossing superhero film in North America. It is also the highest grossing superhero film worldwide, bringing in $1,518,594 910. It was released May 4, 2012 to universal praise. It is the 6th film in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe and the first to feature several superheroes from other franchises coming together. The film features the superheroes: Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk, played by Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Mark Ruffalo, respectively. They’re recruited by S.H.E.I.L.D to fight against Thor’s brother, Loki. The original script was written by Zak Penn and rewritten by the director, Joss Whedon. The film was also a critical success and it was nominated for an Academy Award for special effects. A sequel is expected in 2015, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron.