ByLamar Lyon, writer at
Lamar Lyon

So I've read many articles were people have claimed that DC is the best or that Fox studios are doing a great job. Or that Spider-man belongs back with Marvel. Or that Sony is going to take over. But the majority of what read/heard is that Marvel does it best at producing superhero films. But also that the other studios are fighting for second place.

In my opinion I think Marvel has done a phenomenal job. I also would like to see some of their properties returned to them like the X-Men. But I'm really a comic book fan that holds no allegiances to any one studio or company. Simply because I believe competition breeds excellence. My hope is to see these studios make each other better, like iron sharpening iron, so to speak. Which is a possibility if DC/Warner Bros starts picking up pace on producing solid films (like I believe they will). If Fox continues to repair it's X-Men franchise and if Sony sticks with this "Amazing" Spider-man franchise without another reboot. But regardless of if you are for or against the success of Marvel the majority of us speak as if it's Marvel Studios vs The World...or at least the other studios that make superhero films.

As Marvel continues to show it's self as a force to be recognized by producing films of the superhero genre; with great integrity to the source material of which the film was derived. By a high production values in their films and the intention of turning out a good product before cashing in on the dollar. Backing their properties with a seemingly all or nothing attitude Marvel has a legitimate claim as a premier film studio. While the majority of the public may feel that Marvel Studios is winning the "comic book movie war" mainly over DC/Warner Brothers. I have a different perspective on the matter entirely. Like I stated before the majority of the public opinion is Marvel is winning by a landslide and I don't blame them. With hit after hit after hit, the momentum they have built is like a runaway freight train. Plus producing a consistent stream of products that are at their least considered good or satisfactory also helps the cause. This is all well and good. But "good" and "bad" films are an opinion based judgment. So let’s step aside to seek some fact first and look at some numbers. Because the numbers don’t lie.

The Financial War

Below is the lifetime gross (worldwide) of the superhero films put out by each studio and the studios total overall earnings to date. ****I pulled my figures from Box Office Mojo****

Marvel Studios

  • The Incredible Hulk - $263,427,551
  • Iron Man - $585,174,222
  • Iron Man 2 - $623,933,331
  • [Iron Man 3](movie:24391) - $1,215,439,994
  • Thor - $449,326,618
  • Thor: The Dark World - $644,783,140
  • Captain America: The First Avenger - $370,569,774
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier - $703,332,304 (at the time written)
  • Marvel's The Avengers - $1,518,594,910

Total: $6,374,581,844

Warner Bros. - $35,276,515,380

  • Superman - $300,218,018
  • Superman 2 - $108,185,706
  • Superman 3 - $59,950,623
  • Superman 4: Quest for Peace - $15,681,020
  • Superman Returns - $391,081,192
  • Steel - $1,710,972
  • [Man of Steel](movie:15593) - $668,045,518
  • Batman - $411,348,924
  • Batman Returns - $266,822,354
  • Batman Forever - $336,529,144
  • Batman & Robin - $238,207,122
  • Batman Begins - $374,218,673
  • The Dark Knight - $1,004,558,444
  • The Dark Knight Rises - $1,084,439,099
  • Catwoman - $82,102,379
  • Green Lantern - $219,851,172
  • Watchmen - $185,258,983

Total: $5,748,209,343

Sony - $31,043,663,133

  • Hellboy - $99,318,987
  • Zoom - $12,506,188
  • Hancock - $624,386,746
  • The Green Hornet - $227,817,248
  • The Mask of Zorro - $250,288,523
  • The Legend of Zorro - $142,400,065
  • Ghost Rider - $228,738,393
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance - $132,563,930
  • Spider-Man - $821,708,551
  • Spider-Man 2 - $783,766,341
  • Spider-Man 3 - $890,871,626
  • The Amazing Spider-Man - $757,930,663
  • [The Amazing Spider-Man 2](movie:508593) - $690,915,363 (at the time written)

Total: $5,663,212,624

Fox - $26,885,276,710

  • X-Men - $296,339,527
  • X2: X-Men United - $407,711,549
  • X-Men: The Last Stand - $459,359,555
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $373,062,864
  • X-Men: First Class - $353,624,124
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past - $500,200,000 (at the time written)
  • The Wolverine - $414,828,246
  • Fantastic Four - $330,579,719
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer - $289,047,763
  • Daredevil - $179,179,718
  • Elektra - $56,681,566
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer - $16,624,456
  • My Super Ex-Girlfriend - $60,984,606
  • Mighty Morphin Power Rangers - $66,433,194
  • Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie - $9,615,840
  • Chronicle - $126,636,097

Total: $3,940,908,824

Universal Studios - $26,837,704,452

  • Flash Gordon - $27,107,960
  • The Legend of The Lone Ranger - $12,617,845
  • Darkman - $48,878,502
  • The Shadow - $48,063,435
  • Mystery Men - $33,461,011
  • Hulk - $245,360,480
  • Wanted - $341,433,252
  • Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - $160,388,063
  • Kick-Ass 2 - $60,795,985

Total: $978,106,533

New Line - $7,385,981,314

  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - $201,965,915
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 - $78,656,813
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 - $42,273,609
  • Spawn - $87,840,042
  • Blade - $131,183,530
  • Blade 2 - $155,010,032
  • Blade: Trinity - $128,905,366

Total: $825,835,307

Lionsgate - $5,722,754,376

  • The Punisher - $54,700,105
  • Punisher: War zone - $10,100,036
  • The Spirit - $39,031,337
  • Kick-Ass - $96,188,903

Total: $200,020,381

With all the numbers laid out it's clear to see who is on top right now. But then this is a focused inquiry on superhero movies alone. When I started to consider all the other films (outside of the superhero genre) these other studios produce alongside the money these studios have made in their entirety, it dwarfs Marvel Studios considerably. This made me realize that Marvel was so good at producing their films because they have to be so good at it. It's less of a war and more of a fight for survival or to carve out their own niche. Why do I think this? Marvel Studios specialize in only one thing at this time and that's making only films of the superhero genre. After, I began to think of things from the perspective of Fox or Warner Brothers. With the money they have made off of the superhero genre why would they be afraid or worried? Then it hit me...the new perspective in which I now view this whole matter.

See Also - How did you miss THIS amazing Justice League Easter Egg in Man of Steel Trailer!?

My New Perspective

So let's take the superhero genre and imagine that it is ice cream (yes, I know but just stay with me for a bit). So if the genre is ice cream (in our imaginative minds) then that would make Marvel Studios a Baskin Robbins or Cold Stone Creamery, I like Cold Stone so let’s stick with them. A place that sells solely ice cream is expected to make great sales in ice cream, it just makes since. As well as, provide the best variety of flavors of ice cream around. The only competition that Cold Stone Creamery should ever really have is with another ice cream parlor. So in essence Marvel Studios should be the best at producing superhero films as they currently are. No other studio around specifically produces superhero films solely. So once more, Marvel should be doing as well as they are because what they produce is their specific focus. But how do the other studios fit into this little analogy? Simply, as McDonald's or some big chain restaurant. So as Cold Stone is representing Marvel in this analogy, McDonald's will be standing in for Warner Brothers.

McDonald's doesn't really care how well Cold Stone does because their focus is on more than just making ice cream. They sell a wider verity of things with major focuses elsewhere then ice cream. Ice Cream for them is mostly another way to generate a profit. Will they make adjustments or adapt other strategies now and then when they see a chance to make better changes? Of course they will but that because they see a chance to make a better profit in the ice cream racket. This is why I believe Warner Bros are now really pushing to bring the DCU to the big screen similar to how Marvel did it. For years they had made a very good profit off of just selling Superman (vanilla) and Batman (chocolate). But until Marvel released [The Avengers](movie:9040) (Rainbow Sherbet) on the world they weren't even motivated to really give us the chocolate/vanilla swirl of a Batman/Superman movie until now. Although, it had been teased for many years until recently. But does that mean Warner bros. or Fox don't care about the product they produce in the genre? I honestly believe its all academic at its core. What are the studios motivations and circumstances? Those, I think are the real questions to ponder.

Aside from adapting new strategies to appease us and make a profit off of the genre we realistically shouldn't expect the same level of attention to detail that we get out of Marvel from the other studios. Now I'm not saying we should just accept any old piece of crap like Steel, X-Men: The Last Stand, Daredevil, The Green Hornet, Superman Returns or Fantastic Four just to name a few (just my opinion). But the other studios aren't solely focused on this genre alone and their major focus will always be on winning awards (aside from making a profit). For whatever reason, the genre carries a stigma that doesn't allow it to make it to the top of the hill very often. I highly doubt we will see for a long, long time another superhero film winning a major award like Heath Ledger did for TDK. Not because the genre can't produce a movie that deserves an Oscar or Academy award. I just don't see Hollywood allowing it. But what I do see/hope for is better and higher quality superhero films. Which I believe is going to happen through competition and escalation. Marvel is the vanguard for this hope. The more they push the envelope, break molds and challenge what we/studios expect from a superhero film it will only raise the bar for the other studios. That's partly why I believe Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice will be a good film. The ice cream racket has been changed because of Marvel and people want a little more variety then the basic flavors we were used to. I think that some of the studios will rise to the challenge of meeting the demands of the people.

But the "comic book war" in terms of who we believe is winning or losing is more so a reflection of whom we think is best providing us with what it is we envisioned in our minds. Or in some instances showing us something for beyond where our imaginations had taken us. Or, sadly in some dismal cases failed to live up to our wide expectations and childhood hopes of the extraordinary.


Is Marvel winning the "WAR"?


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