Superhero movies are where it's at in Hollywood these days. That statement is represented in the list of the top 10 top-grossing movie franchises that was produced by Forbes in August of 2015. Movies that feature either a single hero taking on a villain or a group of protectors working together to keep the human race safe from dastardly individuals have been massive hits for production companies over the past several decades. That, above anything else, is why superhero flicks continue to be churned out every single year even when it seems as if the last thing that the movie world needs is yet another sequel.
Movie goers have also proven via their wallets and their willingness to make the treks out to theaters that they will spend money and wait in lines for hours to follow different fantasy stories. Two in particular check in on the list of the ten top-grossing movie franchises in history, and odds are that you could predict the names of those brands even if you have never seen any of those movies. Both of those franchises have become recognized names in society because they have been so successful among people who helped turn novels into international movie sensations worth billions – yes, billions – of dollars.
If there is one thing that we have learned over the past several years, it is that familiar characters will continue to be recycled by movie studios even if those tales have been played-out and stale in the eyes of some critics and fans because they are easy money for those companies. You may find that you cannot get enough of certain movies, or you may be in the group of fans who believe that enough is enough as it pertains to those stories. Regardless of what you think of them, fans had better be prepared to see an even great influx of superhero movies in the future, because they are the most profitable flicks going in the business today.
10 Batman: $3.71 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
The evolution of the Batman character in movies over the past three decades has been fascinating to behold even for those who have never before picked up a comic book. Most recently, fans were treated to the Dark Knight trilogy that made a fortune at the box office and that was regarded as one of the best overall superhero stories to be told via a trio of movies. We know that a future encounter featuring Batman taking on Superman will be presented to fans in theaters, and that film will have to be something special to live up to the reputations had by the Dark Knight movies.
9 Pirates of the Caribbean: $3.73 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
What was once an entertaining movie and story that was not, at its birth, a part of society as are characters such as Superman and Batman, has become one of the biggest brands to ever grow from the movie business. Pirates of the Caribbean is a franchise that has spread out to video games, board games, spin-off novels and tales, and even amusement park attractions that draw in fans all because of the Pirates name. The Jack Sparrow character has become beloved well beyond what anybody could have imagined when he first emerged in theaters, and it won't be much of a surprise if/when Sparrow is re-imagined and recreated by some entity.
8 Transformers: $3.78 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
An idea that stemmed from the imaginations of young children who played with tiny vehicles and similar toys has become a franchise worth over $3 billion in movie profits. Products based off of Transformers stories can be found all throughout the entertainment world. Comic books, animated specials, video games, toys, and of course those popular movies based on the Transformers have made multiple companies boatloads of money over the years. It is difficult to imagine a world that does not know about the existence of the Optimus Prime character that has been showcased in movies, shows and other stories.
7 The Fast and the Furious: $3.89 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
Not even the biggest fans of the first The Fast and the Furious movie that was released in a pre-September 11 world could have imagined that the film was going to launch a new movie brand and franchise that would be responsible for seven films that have already been released and an eighth that is reportedly already being produced. It has been rumored that the plan is in place for ten total Fast and Furious movies to be made before all is said and done. Why anybody would even consider putting a halt to these films that now feature Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson when they continue to be such huge hits in theaters is beyond comprehension.
6 Spider-Man: $3.96 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
The sun rising in the east and setting in the west, death, taxes, and a company relaunching a new series of Spider-Man movies once a decade: You can set your watches to all of these. Tom Holland is the next actor who will be tasked to play the superhero, and he will have his work cut out for him if the reactions fans have had to others who have been in the role offer any indication. Spider-Man followers have a special appreciation for Peter Parker, in part because the pre-Spidey Parker is not all that different from everyday individuals. Good luck with this role, Mr. Holland. You are going to need it.
5 Star Wars: $4.54 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
It is perhaps the most controversial of all of the movie franchises that are spotlighted in this piece. Some diehard Star Wars fans would, in their perfect worlds, make it so that the brand would have stopped producing movies after the original three films that made for a historic trilogy and a pop culture phenomenon. Such hot takes have not kept other editions of that film series from being embraced by movie goers. The story is set to continue thanks to The Walt Disney Company, as Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled to be released before the end of 2015. Spoiler alert: That movie is going to make a ton of money.
4 The Lord of the Rings: $5.85 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
Maybe the most interesting part about the ascent of The Lord of the Rings in pop culture and society is that the first instalment of the movie series hit theaters at what was, for the franchise, the perfect time. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released just months after the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001 and when people happily paid money to follow such an adventure and have an escape from all that was occurring in the real world. The franchise grew in popularity from there, but we'll never know what would have been had that first movie been released in the summer and not during the holiday season of 2001.
3 James Bond: $6.19 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
James Bond may very well be the best hero mentioned in this piece because he is not “super” in any way. Bond is not invincible from attacks such as gunfire. He cannot fly without the help of technology. He can't heal any faster than any reader out there, nor can he crush opponents with his hands. Bond nevertheless consistently gets the job done regardless of who is standing as his enemy, and he manages to win the girl while doing so. Young men all over the world have, for decades, imagined themselves as being a version of Bond, a character who seemingly can do nothing wrong. It is no wonder that the franchise has made billions of dollars.
2 Harry Potter: $7.72 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
Just as with the beginning of The Lord of the Rings franchise, the Harry Potter series of movies served as part of the healing process for many following the tragedies of September 11. It is not difficult to understand why the Harry Potter tales would become so beloved following the attacks on New York City and Washington DC. Good triumphed over evil in the stories, and the movies were filled with whimsy and fantasy worlds that activated imaginations and allowed people to forget about all of the horror that was being shown on news broadcasts on a nightly basis.
1 Marvel Cinematic Universe: $8.92 Billion Worldwide Box Office Gross
Iron Man. The Avengers. Captain America. Fantastic Four. Guardians of the Galaxy. Incredible Hulk. The Marvel characters that have been showcased in a plethora of movies have been nothing short of a gold mine in the business. That Marvel is responsible for the top-grossing movie franchise speaks to the reality that fans will flock to theaters for these films even if they all are not well-received by critics and reviewers. It is a matter of when and not if the Marvel cinematic universe will hit the $10-billion mark, and the momentum for these movies continues to grow with every year.