Fans of the superhero film genre have had a fair selection of costumed crime-fighters to pick from at movie theaters over the last few years. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War both recently landed in theaters while the release of several more highly anticipated superhero flicks, such as X-Men: Apocalypse and Suicide Squad are still to come.
While the super-powered characters, action-packed storylines, and impressive special effects of these films keep the fans coming back for more, the super-high box office grosses of these films is what ensures that the studios will keep bringing superheroes to the silver screen. With the plethora of superhero-themed cinema coming our way this year, we thought this would be the perfect time to take a look at some of the most successful films ever released in this genre. Here is a list of the top ten highest-grossing superhero movies according to total unadjusted domestic lifetime grosses provided by Box Office Mojo.
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
Despite featuring characters that were largely unknown to most casual comic book fans, Marvel’s movie about the irreverent Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) and his motley crew of adventurers became one of its most popular films, raking in over $333 million in domestic box office gross. No wonder the studio already has plans for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
9. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Long before the Spider-Man film franchise was rebooted by Marc Webb in 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man, Sam Raimi was making bank for Sony with his series of films about New York City’s favorite webcrawler. Spider-Man 3 was the last installment in Sam Raimi’s series of films that starred Tobey Macguire and Kirsten Dunst as Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson, respectively.
According to Box Office Mojo, the film pulled in an impressive total domestic lifetime gross of $336.5 million. Although Raimi was scheduled to direct a fourth Spider-Man film, he told Vulture that the project fell apart after he was unable to get a script together in time.
8. Deadpool (2016)
After years of being stuck in development limbo, Fox finally released a movie about the irreverent “merc with a mouth” known as Deadpool. Not only was the film a commercial success with a domestic box office total of over $343 million (per Box Office Mojo), it also set a new standard for violence and crass humor in a genre that has traditionally been aimed at a younger demographic. The film currently has an 84 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
7. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
This successful follow-up to 2002’s Spider-Man helped to ensure that the studio would bankroll another Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man film in 2007. Spider-Man 2 brought in a total domestic lifetime gross of approximately $373.6 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The film currently has a 94 percent “Certified Fresh” rating from the critics on Rotten Tomatoes and an 81 percent audience rating, making it by far the most popular of the three Spider-Man films directed by Sam Raimi. Spider-Man 2 also won an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
6. Spider-Man (2002)
This film started Sam Raimi’s profitable Spider-Man trilogy of films in 2002. As noted by Box Office Mojo, Spider-Man achieved a total domestic lifetime gross of nearly $404 million, including an opening weekend take of almost $115 million. This highly successful film is also the oldest movie to make the top-ten list of highest-grossing superhero films.
5. Iron Man 3 (2013)
Although Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow reprised their roles as Tony Stark/Iron Man and Virginia “Pepper” Potts, respectively, Shane Black took over the director’s chair from Jon Favreau for Iron Man 3. This blockbuster hit pulled in an impressive $409 million in total domestic lifetime gross, including over $174 million during its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.
4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s critically-acclaimed Batman film trilogy takes the No. 4 spot on Box Office Mojo’s highest grossing superhero film list. This star-studded film features Christian Bale as Batman, Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, and Gary Oldman as James Gordon. According to Box Office Mojo, The Dark Knight Rises pulled in a total domestic lifetime gross of $448 million.
3. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes return to take on a sentient robot gone rogue in this follow-up to 2012’s The Avengers. This blockbuster hit has brought in $459 million in domestic total gross as August 2, 2015, according to Box Office Mojo. However, its foreign box office is twice as impressive at $941.5 million.
2. The Dark Knight (2008)
This sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins was the most successful film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series. Heath Ledger’s intense portrayal of The Joker was hailed by the critics and secured the film one of its two Academy Award wins. Besides Ledger’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar, The Dark Knight was also awarded an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has raked in almost $535 million in total domestic lifetime gross, while worldwide box office receipts have surpassed $1 billion.
1. The Avengers (2012)
Not surprisingly, the No. 1 highest-grossing superhero film featured multiple superheroes who have also starred in their own movies. This star-packed ensemble superhero film included Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor. All three actors have portrayed their respective superhero characters in various standalone movies. The film also introduced Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk and brought back several recurring Marvel Universe characters such as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Virginia “Pepper” Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow).
The Avengers was a blockbuster hit with a total domestic lifetime gross of over $623 million, including an opening weekend take of $207.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo. Not only does The Avengers top the list of highest-grossing superhero films, it also ranks fourth on the all-time highest unadjusted domestic lifetime gross chart among all films.
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