In 1978, Warner Bros. convinced the world a man could fly in "Superman." A decade later, Tim Burton brought Batman to life in an otherworldly Gotham City and sparked a successful franchise.
Now, the movie giant is banking on both Batman and Superman to save the day. After its debut last week at San Diego Comic-Con, the new trailer for "Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice" won massive Internet buzz and lots of kudos from comic die-hards. But is it too little, too late?
In recent years, the superheroes of DC Comics have struggled to capture the imagination of moviegoers, with the notable exception of Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy.
The unit's struggles have come in the face of a super-powered blitz by rival Marvel, which has all but conquered the box office with top-earning franchises like "The Avengers," "Iron Man" and "Guardians of the Galaxy".
At least for now, Warner is basking in the afterglow of the latest "Batman vs. Superman" teaser. Whether that can translate into narrowing the gap with Marvel and resonating with audiences in a way that translates into box office money, however, remains an open question.
"When I was a kid, Superman and Batman were every bit as big as Spider-Man. Nobody had heard of Iron Man, and "Guardians of the Galaxy" was Geeksville," said Barton Crockett, media analyst at FBR Capital Markets, said. "Now the Marvel stuff is everywhere."