76 superhero movies have been mentioned one way or another over the course of our ‘Superheroes at the box office’ feature. The conclusion is here, with the last 8 superhero flicks that have been released on the big screen in the last 33 years. To get an idea just how much this sub-genre has grown over the years, just in 2011 we’ve had no less then six entries. Masked (or not) crusaders, vigilantes fighting for a cause, be it good or bad, for one last time, after the break.
We start with Iron Man 2, the sequel to the 2008 hit with the same name (minus the 2) and part of The Avengers. People expected something at least as good as the original so disappointment was high on its toes, lurking right around the corner. Unfortunately, while a fun movie, Iron Man 2 failed to match the sheer awesomeness of the first one. Despite less favorable critical and fan reception, Iron Man 2 manage to gross a mighty $312.4 million in North America, just shy of the $318.4 million made by Iron Man. Worldwide things were looking better with $623.9 million for the sequel versus $585.1 million for the original. Right now Iron Man 3 is expected to open in May 2013, but with Shane Black directing instead of Jon Favreau.
Continuing 2010, Megamind follows in November. You know how there are always trends in Hollywood, like one year we might get a bunch of penguin movies or maybe animated fish movies, you know what I mean. Well 2010 was the year of villains with a kind heart, misunderstood if you will. First it was Despicable Me, a story where one villain fights to regain the title of best super-villain in the world. The reason I’ve not included Despicable Me here is simple, there are no superheroes in that movie and Gru isn’t fighting to save the world or a city, he just wants the respect of his mother. Now Megamind, the titular character in the movie with the same name, is much more then just a villain or super-villain. Now I’m not going to spoil anything for you guys but let me just say that this movie has at least one superhero in it. Megamind grossed $148.4 million in North America and $321.8 million worldwide. Having cost $130 million to make, DreamWorks more then likely didn’t lose money on it but don’t expect a sequel out of this one.
And we are finally in 2011 and The Green Hornet is our starting point. This 75 year old hero sure took his time trying to get to the big screen. Starring Seth Rogen, Cameron Diaz and Jay Chou (playing Kato, a role Bruce Lee had in the original 1966 TV series). The Green Hornet almost made $100 million in North America and $227.8 million worldwide. Unfortunately for this fun yet flawed movie, that gross probably won’t be enough for Sony to green light a sequel since it cost $120 million to make..
A movie probably not many heard about is Super and yes, it came out this year, specifically on April 1st, a fitting release date some could say. Now this is a hard R, very independent superhero movie that I would only recommend to the most hardcore, probably those that liked Kick-Ass but also thought that it didn’t go as far as it could have. Let me just say this, Super is insane, if you don’t believe me just watch it and you’ll agree with me afterwards. Again, be warned, it makes Kick-Ass look like a PG-13 movie (so keep the kiddies away). Obviously, this is as far away from commercial as you can get and it only got a limited release in theaters. With that in mind, the $0.3 million it made in North America is not as surprising.
Next up is another movie leading up to The Avengers, Thor, directed by Kenneth Branagh. This was probably the hardest avenger to bring to the big screen so a lot of people expected it to fail, well Thor didn’t, quite the contrary. First of all, it was actually a good movie and while it had its flaws, Thor managed to deliver the goods in the end. It is right now the highest grossing superhero movie of the year with $181 million in North America and $448.5 million worldwide. The adventures of the God of Thunder will continue in The Avengers next year and in July 2013 in Thor 2.
X-Men: First Class opened a month later and it is the second X-Men spin-off, following the success of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Unlike that movie, First Class was very well received by both fans and critics alike, a return to the quality standard set by the first two X-Men movies. If only box office results would have been as impressive as the reviews. With a production cost of $160 million, X-Men: First Class only made $146.3 million in North America and $352.5 million worldwide. A sequel could happen but it will come down to DVD and Blu-Ray sales. So if you guys want a First Class 2, go out and buy as many copies of X-Men: First Class as you can, I know I will.
Two weeks later Warner gave us Green Lantern, the long anticipated Ryan Reynolds (starring) and Martin Campbell (directed) DC Comics superhero. They had the money ($200 million no less), they had time, talent, you name it, yet something happened along the line, something big enough to turn Green Lantern into a bust. When I say bust, I don’t mean only in regard to box office success, it just wasn’t a particularly good movie, ok, maybe not as bad as people give it credit. Having grossed $116.4 million in North America and $219.7 million worldwide (barely matching the production budget, let alone doubling it), one would think this series was gone yet Warner are actually still talking about a sequel, strange times we live in.
And now we are up to the last superhero movie, Captain America: The First Avenger. Like the title suggests, this is another avenger movie, the last avenger movie, a fitting spot since he was also the first avenger in the comics. Anyway, Captain was a very long time coming and now that it’s finally here I must say, me like it, me like it very much. They made it a period piece and we got a great take on the origin story of Captain America. It wasn’t campy and at the same time not too serious since it is after all, a superhero movie. With a gross of $173.4 milion in North America and $348.4 million worldwide (and still counting) Captain America, just like Thor and Iron Man, will return next year in The Avengers. The only thing that bothers me about this movie is the way it ends, there’s not a lot of place to make a sequel similar to it and I’d really like a second Captain America set in World War II.
After celebrating superhero movies of the past, it’s time to take a brief look into the future and let me tell you this, there’s never been a better time for fans of this sub-genre. Next year Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is coming to haunt us. A few months later, the ultimate superhero mash-up, The Avengers, will be set to generate plenty of nerdgasms. Then there’s The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises, both in July. Tony Stark is back in Iron Man 3 in 2013 and Man of Steel should mark the return of Superman that same year. As mentioned above, 2013 also has Thor 2 and probably The Wolverine. Now these are just some of the bigger titles, there’s a lot more coming and who knows, maybe in a year or two you might read an 11th part of Superheroes at the box office, until then, keep superheroes alive and, just for kicks, list your favorite hero of all time in the comments. I was a Batman dude for a long time but once I discovered Spider-Man, I never went back.