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Highest Grossing Comic Book Movie Franchises

Highest Grossing Comic Book Movie Franchises
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The superhero contest – at least at the box office – continues to up the ante with new installments of comic-book adaptations for the big screen, as well as adding new franchises to the mix. In the past year, moviegoers saw “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” “The Green Hornet” and “Green Lantern” hit theaters. The sequels “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and “X-Men: First Class” expanded their respective franchises – and their box-office gross receipts.With several more sequels pla
Source: BoxOfficeMojo|| Photo: John Eder | The Image Bank | Getty Images

After the smashing box-office debut of “The Avengers,” its continued popularity prompted Disney to green-light a sequel just two weeks after its release. The superhero contest — at least at the box office — continues to up the ante with new installments of comic-book adaptations for the big screen, as well as adding new franchises to the mix.

In 2011, “Thor,” “Captain America,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” “The Green Hornet” and “Green Lantern” hit theaters. The sequels “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” and “X-Men: First Class” expanded their respective franchises — and their box-office gross receipts.

With more sequels coming out, the race is hardly over. Among them: “MIB 3,” released on Memorial Day weekend; “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises” coming in July; and “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel,” “The Wolverine,” “Thor 2” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in 2013.

Following are the top 10 comic book movie franchises of all time, with data compiled by BoxOfficeMojo.com. All totals are based on domestic sales and are adjusted to 2012 dollars, based on inflation figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

By Bruno J. Navarro, updated by Joseph O'Dell and Jill Weinberger 
Updated 29 May 2012

10. Hulk
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Total box office gross: $306.1 million Created by Marvel Comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Hulk first appeared in comic-book form in May 1962. In its two recent film iterations, the Hulk’s alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner, was portrayed first by Eric Bana and later by Edward Norton. The Hulk will also appear in the upcoming film, “The Avengers,” set for May 2012 release. Hulk (2003): $163.6 million The Incredible Hulk (2008): $142.5 million
Photo: Universal Pictures

Total domestic gross: $306.1 million

Created by Marvel Comics legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Hulk first appeared in comic-book form in May 1962. In its two recent film iterations, the Hulk’s alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner, was portrayed by Eric Bana and later by Edward Norton. Mark Ruffalo portrays Banner and the Hulk in “The Avengers,” which was released in May 2012.

Top Performing Films:
"Hulk" (2003): $163.6 million
"The Incredible Hulk" (2008): $142.5 million

9. Fantastic Four
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Total box office gross: $325.1 million Another Marvel Comics creation by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Fantastic Four premiered with its eponymous November 1961 issue. Fantastic Four (2005): $180.3 million Fantastic Four: Silver Surfer (2007): $144.8 million
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Total domestic gross: $325.1 million

Another Marvel Comics creation by Lee and Kirby, the Fantastic Four premiered with its eponymous November 1961 issue.

Top Performing Films:
"Fantastic Four" (2005): $180.3 million
"Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" (2007): $144.8 million

8. The Avengers
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The Avengers, brings together superheroes from The Marvel universe including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as they team together to save the earth. The Avengers has already reached the and through its first three days has grossed more than Thor, Captian America, and The Incredible Hulk. The Avengers is still in theatres and is expected to break even more b
Photo: AP

Total domestic gross: $523.6 million

"The Avengers" brings together superheroes from The Marvel universe including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as they team up to save the Earth. "The Avengers" is based on the comic book series that began in 1963 and continues through today. 

The movie, released in the U.S. on May 4, quickly surpassed $1 billion worldwide.In its first three days alone in the U.S., it grossed $207.4 million, more than overall totals for the 2008 movie "The Incredible Hulk" ($134.8 million) and "Thor" ($181 million) and "Captain America" ($176.6 million), both released in 2011. With its box-office success, a sequel is already planned.

7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
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Total box office gross: $493.2 million “Heroes on the half-shell” Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello debuted in a 1984 comic book by Mirage Studios and later gained widespread popularity through its animated cartoon TV show. The most recent film, “TMNT,” by Warner Bros., was entirely computer-animated. Paramount plans a December 2013 release for the next version of the crime-fighting reptiles. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): $235.7 million Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (1991):
Photo: New Line Cinema

Total domestic gross: $493.2 million

“Heroes on the half-shell” Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello debuted in a 1984 comic book by Mirage Studios and later gained widespread popularity through its animated cartoon TV show. The most recent film, “TMNT,” by Warner Bros., was entirely computer-animated. Paramount plans a December 2013 release for the next version of the crime-fighting reptiles.

Top Three Performing Films:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990): $235.7 million
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (1991): $131.5 million
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993): $66.6 million

6. Men In Black
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Total box office gross: $441.1 million Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are secret agents keeping the Earth safe from extraterrestrials bent on destruction in the “Men In Black” films. Columbia Pictures based the characters on a 1990 series by Aircel Comics. A third installment is scheduled for May 2012 release. Men In Black (1997): $355.6 million Men In Black II (2002): $241.0 million
Photo: AP

Total domestic gross: $596.6 million

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are secret agents keeping the Earth safe from extraterrestrials bent on destruction in the “Men In Black” films. Columbia Pictures based the characters on a 1990 series by Aircel Comics. A third installment hauled in $55 million during its debut weekend over the Memorial Day holiday.


Top Performing Films:
"Men In Black" (1997): $355.6 million
"Men In Black II" (2002): $241 million

5. Iron Man
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Total box office gross: $662.9 million Yet another Marvel Comics blockbuster created by Stan Lee, this one debuted in March 1963. Iron Man was brought to the big screen by Paramount Pictures in 2008, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The franchise’s third installment is scheduled for a May 2013 release. Fans won’t have to wait that long to see Iron Man again, however, as Downey will also portray the character in the upcoming film version of “The Avengers” in May 2012. Iron Man (2008): $3
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Total domestic gross: $662.9 million

Yet another Marvel Comics blockbuster created by Lee, this one debuted in March 1963. "Iron Man" was brought to the big screen by Paramount Pictures in 2008, starring Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The franchise’s third installment is scheduled for a May 2013 release. Downey also portrayed the character in “The Avengers.” 

Top Performing Films:
Iron Man (2008): $336.7 million
Iron Man 2 (2010): $326.2 million

4. Superman
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Total: $1.04 billion Making his debut in June 1938, Superman today enjoys popularity as one of the world’s most recognizable superheroes, as well as the oldest one on this list. The 1978 film starring Christopher Reeve is the 3rd highest grossing individual superhero movie of all time, adjusted for inflation. Warner Bros. plans a follow-up, “Man of Steel,” to be released in June 2013. Superman (1978): $468.6 million Superman II (1981): $271.0 million Superman Returns (2006): $225.9 million
Photo: Warner Brothers

Total domestic gross: $1.04 billion

Making his debut in June 1938, Superman today enjoys popularity as perhaps the world’s most recognizable superhero, as well as the oldest one on this list. The 1978 film starring Christopher Reeve is the third-highest grossing individual comic-inspired movie of all time, adjusted for inflation. Warner Bros. plans a follow-up, “Man of Steel,” to be released in June 2013.

Top Three Performing Films:
"Superman" (1978): $468.6 million
"Superman II" (1981): $271 million
"Superman Returns" (2006): $225.9 million

3. X-Men
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Total box office gross: $1.08 billion An ensemble cast featuring Patrick Stewart (“Professor X”), Hugh Jackman (“Wolverine”) and Ian McKellen (“Magneto”) comprise the cast of the X-Men film series, from characters developed by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006): $264.7 million X2: X-Men United (2003): $265.9 million X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009): $190.9 million
Photo: 20th Century Fox

Total domestic gross: $1.08 billion

An ensemble cast featuring Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) and Ian McKellen (Magneto) are in the "X-Men" series, from characters developed by Lee and Kirby for Marvel Comics.

Top Three Perfoming Films:
"X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006): $264.7 million
"X2: X-Men United" (2003): $265.9 million
"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (2009): $190.9 million

2. Spider-Man
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Total box office gross: $1.33 billion The tale of teenage Peter Parker, who develops superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive arachnid, “Spider-Man” first appeared in August 1962, the creation of Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The movie franchise, which holds spots in the second, third and fourth positions for top-grossing films according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, isn’t done growing. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is scheduled to continue the story with a July 2012 release – and a May 201
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Total domestic gross: $1.33 billion

The tale of teenager Peter Parker, who develops superpowers after being bitten by a radioactive arachnid, “Spider-Man” first appeared in August 1962, the creation of Marvel's Lee and Steve Ditko. According to data from Box Office Mojo, the franchise has the second-, fifth- and sixth-highest grossing individual movies based on comic books — and it’s not done yet. “The Amazing Spider-Man” is scheduled to continue the story with a July 2012 reboot, and a May 2014 sequel.

Top Three Performing Films:
"Spider-Man" (2002): $510.9 million
"Spider-Man 2" (2004): $450.2 million
"Spider-Man 3" (2007): $369.5 million

1. Batman
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Total box office gross: $1.96 billion The second-oldest superhero on this list, Batman (also known as “the Dark Knight” or “the Caped Crusader”) also takes the No. 1 spot as the top-grossing film character adapted from a comic book. The DC Comics creation also occupies the No. 12 (“Batman Begins”) and No. 15 (“Batman Forever”) slots. [[THE NO. 12 AND 15 SPOTS REFER TO WHAT LIST? ]]] Fans can expect another installment in July 2012, with the release of “The Dark Knight Rises,” starring Christian
Photo: Warner Brothers

Total domestic gross: $1.96 billion

The second-oldest superhero on this list, Batman (also known as “the Dark Knight” or “the Caped Crusader”) is the all-time highest grossing film franchise based on a comic book series. “The Dark Knight” also takes the top spot on the top-grossing film adapted from a comic book character, along with 1989’s “Batman” at number 4 while 1995’s "Batman Forever" ranked 10th. Fans can expect another installment in July 2012 with the release of “The Dark Knight Rises” starring Christian Bale.

Top Three Performing Films:
"The Dark Knight" (2008): $564 million
"Batman" (1989): $461.2 million
"Batman Forever" (2005): $274.9 million