Since the early 2000s, superhero movies have dramatically increased in popularity. Films like The Dark Knight and Avengers have taken superheroes from convention halls and comic books to the forefront of mainstream popular culture. With global box office revenues frequently eclipsing a billion dollars, it’s clear that the superhero genre has arrived at a new golden age. In fact, 2018 was a record-breaking year for superhero movies, with over 2.8 billion U.S. dollars in box office revenue generated in the United States alone.
It is clear that superhero movies have seen a spike in popularity in recent years, but what makes these films so appealing to audiences around the world? Superhero movie viewers seem to be more influenced by their familiarity with the comic book franchise than by critic reviews of the film. The biggest impact on viewers’ decisions to see superhero movies seems to be the heroes themselves. Another major influence is the quality of the movie’s trailer. Around 44 percent of consumers from ages 18 to 29 stated that the quality of a superhero movie trailer impacted their decision to see it “a lot”.
Marvel remains at the pinnacle of the superhero movie genre. With a host of recognizable brands such as the Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man, and Iron Man, Marvel saturates the superhero market for a variety of different audiences. About 47 percent of respondents stated that they strictly preferred Marvel over its main competitor, DC, while only 11 percent answered in favor of DC. Marvel has achieved massive success in the film industry, partly due to its ability to include numerous superheroes into each movie, and connect their stories in a way that compels viewers to seek out other Marvel films. Around 54 percent of respondents from the 18 to 34 age range stated that they had seen one or more movies in the Avengers series.
Given the nature of superheroes, relatability doesn’t seem to be a major concern for viewers of the films. Only nine percent of adults stated that they strongly agreed that they relate to the characters in superhero movies. Instead, many people seem to look towards superhero films to serve as an example for social issues such as LGBTQ rights and immigration. Approximately 24% of respondents stated that superhero movies should have more characters that represent the LGBTQ community and 23 percent stated that they should include immigrant characters.