Doug: I read the following article from a link on Twitter last night and I thought I'd bring it over here for discussion over the weekend. All words and graphics are copyright the Washington Post and the authors and creators named within, and no infringement of those rights is intended. Hey, around here we just need a good topic to discuss!
The biggest superhero movie flops and successes of all time
This summer’s “Fantastic Four” could turn out to be one of the biggest superhero movie flops of all time.
But the real embarrassment was the critical reaction. The movie has a 9 percent rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes, the lowest score earned by the dozens of films that have been based on Marvel comics.
Film studios have released a barrage of superhero movies in the past few decades, ranging from flops like the “Fantastic Four” to successes like 2012’s “The Avengers." And as the charts below show, the competition between the two main superhero franchises, Marvel and DC comics, shows no signs of slowing.
Marvel has Spider-Man, Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men, Captain America and the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. DC, on the other hand, gave the world Superman, Batman, Catwoman, the Joker, and Wonder Woman. The two franchises have been battling for eyeballs since the 1930s, but have seen their rivalry strengthen with the growing popularity of the big budget Hollywood superhero movie.
As the graphic below shows, movies based on DC Comics characters outpaced those of Marvel before 2000, including "Superman" in 1978, "Batman" in 1989, and "Batman and Robin" in 1997.
But in the last 16 years, the Marvel franchise caught up fast. According to data from Box Office Mojo, 36 superhero films have been released based on Marvel comics since 2000, including "X-Men" in 2000, "Spider-Man" in 2002, and "Iron Man" in 2008.
In terms of how individual movies have performed at the box office, however, Marvel and DC are more neck-and-neck.
The charts below show how the top five grossing movies based on Marvel and DC comics, with box office revenues adjusted for inflation. Marvel's top five grossing movies (in red) only earned about $139 million more than DC's films (in blue) have.
One interesting thing is how much of a mark DC's classic movies made -- "The Dark Knight" (2008) is its top earner, but the original "Batman" (1989) ranks second, and "Superman" (1978) and "Batman Forever" (1995) also make the list.
The next chart shows the five least successful movies from Marvel and DC in terms of box office revenues. Here, earnings from movies based on Marvel comics outstrip those based on DC comics by about $72 million.
The record among critics, shown in the chart below, is a little more mixed. For whatever reason, Marvel films seem to do better on Rotten Tomatoes, while DC films fare well on Metacritic. Here are the Marvel and DC superhero movies with the best and worst reviews of all time:
Part of the reason for Marvel's success may be the strategy. By creating so movies around individual characters, and then tying their story lines together in a big ensemble movie like "The Avengers," the franchise has connected audiences with unfamiliar characters.
Competitors have taken notice. In March, Warner Brothers is due to release a new superhero movie in which DC's favorite sons, Superman and Batman, face off against one another, "putting mankind in greater danger than it's ever known before." Given that kind of rivalry, expect more superhero battles to come.