The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which began with the 2008 film “Iron Man”, has quickly surpassed brands like Star Wars, James Bond, and Lord of the Rings to become the highest grossing film franchise of all time by a huge margin. The box office gross of MCU films has nearly doubled that of the next highest grossing franchise, and five of the ten highest grossing films of all time fall under the Marvel banner (all four films in its “Avengers” series made the list). One factor explaining the company’s massive success in the industry is its ability to combine the storylines of numerous superheroes into each movie, thereby cross-promoting the franchise’s other films. The Avengers series takes this concept even further by combining the stories of nearly every character and thus appealing to a huge range of superhero fans. The success of the films has thrust comic book superheroes into the mainstream, with Black Panther picking up 7 nominations and 3 wins in the 2019 Academy Awards.
Although the films have generated a huge buzz in recent years, the company’s staple product from the very beginning has been its comic books. Over 40 percent of all comic store sales in the United States are published by Marvel, giving it the highest market share by a significant margin. Its Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Wolverine comics are particularly popular, ranking among the best-selling comic books of 2018. Although sometimes associated with younger fans, Marvel has managed to have a lasting effect on its readers, with over 60 percent of adults aged 18-44 calling themselves fans of Marvel Comics. When compared to its biggest competitor, DC Comics, Marvel’s comic books, movies, tv shows and even video games are preferred by the majority of consumers, again showing the strength of the brand and its position in the market.
Marvel’s revitalization over the past decade has not only brought great success to the company, but also increased the popularity and mainstream appeal of the superhero genre in general. With success across a range of entertainment platforms, and leads over all of its biggest competitors, the brand is set for continued success in the years to come.