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Superhero smackdown: Who delivers the mightiest returns?

Batman, Spider-Man and The Avengers movies battle at the box office

July 16, 2012

Flocks of superheroes continue to spin their profitable tales this summer, with Spider-Man, Batman and The Avengers all angling for big box office returns. With an early summer release, The Avengers earned $207 million in its opening weekend. It is poised to become the third highest-grossing film in the U.S., behind Avatar and Titanic. Industry observers have similarly high hopes for the latest Batman installment The Dark Knight Rises. In 2008, The Dark Knight earned $158 million in its first weekend and more than $1 billion in total lifetime gross worldwide. See how the comic book franchises stack up against each other in U.S. domestic gross figures in the charts below. (Data: Box Office Mojo)


  • The Dark Knight (2008) earned $158.4 million in its opening weekend. It has also earned $1 billion worldwide.
  • Catwoman (2004) was largely panned by critics and audiences. It made a modest $82 million worldwide.

Marvel's The Avengers

  • The Avengers has earned $1.4 billion worldwide as of July 16, according to Box Office Mojo.
  • The Avengers is third behind Avatar and Titanic in all-time worldwide box-office gross.


  • Spider-Man (2002) earned $114 million in its opening weekend. By comparison, the 2012 reboot earned $62 million in its debut weekend.
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004) won an Academy Award for visual effects.
men in black

Men in Black

  • Men in Black was #2 in 1997 U.S. domestic grosses while Men in Black II was #8 in 2002.
  • Men in Black (1997) won an Academy Award for best makeup.


  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) was the highest-earning film in the series, earning $459 million worldwide. X2: X-Men United was the second most successful film, taking in $407.7 million.
  • A sixth film in the series is slated for July 2014.
Superman Returns


  • Superman (1978) was the top gross earner, taking in $454 million (adjusted for inflation).
  • The team behind Superman's visual effects won an Oscar in 1979.

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