The All-Time Most Valuable Comic Book Movie Franchise Is Surprisingly Not Batman

With the release of Avengers:Age of Ultron and the current landscape of comic book films, it’s no wonder that curiosity on the success of specific franchises has come up. Avengers 2 just saw the second highest opening day numbers of all-time. And within time (and additional box office gross from Avengers 2), rankings are sure to shift, but right now, it’s the iconic and seemingly timeless franchises at the top. Yes, Batman is at the top of the list, but the Caped Crusader’s franchise comes surprisingly second to a certain web-slinging goofball—Spider-Man. The top 5 list is as follows:

  1. Spider-Man
  2. Batman
  3. X-Men
  4. Iron Man
  5. The Avengers

Over at 24/7 Wall Street, the site broke down the publicly available box office information into clean discernible figures to give us a glimpse at which heroes are bringing in the biggest bank. The three franchises at the top are not entirely too surprising, since they each have made a large number of films. But it’s the ordering that shocked me.

First on the list is the Spider-Man franchise, taking the leading spot with a $3.96 billion gross worldwide. It may only have five movies in the franchise (compared to Batman’s hefty eight films) but when Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie was released in 2002 it was the top grossing film that year bringing in $403.7 million. And since Tobey Maguire's Spidey, the franchise has been putting out instant commercial successes. Four out of the five films rank among the top 12 gross ticket sales of all-time, and this was all while Spider-Man was still a Sony entity. With Marvel’s resources (and other Avengers) attached, the new Spidey series could keep the franchise in that top position for a good while.

Batman comes a fairly close second with a worldwide gross of $3.8 billion, but a span of eight movies since Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989. What’s crazy about the franchise coming in second isn’t just in the fact that it put out more movies. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films brought it some big money, specifically, The Dark Knight Rises earned $1.08 billion worldwide. But, not all of the franchise’s films were released internationally (1993's animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm only opened in U.S. theaters).

The X-Men franchise comes in third on the list of franchise with seven films bringing in a total of $3.05 billion worldwide. But, it may be bumped soon depending on the success of Avengers: Age of Ultron. The first Avengers film took in $1.5 billion alone, making it number three of the all-time top-grossing films. If the second film can surpass its predecessor, it could easily top the X-Men franchise with only two films under its belt. Then with the Infinity War movies, it could soar to the top.