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Who Rules the Box Office, DC or Marvel Films?

The battle between the Avengers and Justice League heroes measured in box office success.

Deciding who rules the cinematic superhero world is an argument for the ages, and the box office results are what can truly help us in the search for this answer. If you are a movie lover and not dedicated to a specific comic universe, there is more leeway to give a fair review of theses films. On the other side of the spectrum, there are those who are devoted to their universe, creating a timeless battle when speaking of the overall quality of the films, storylines, and heroes.

Box office ratings have skyrocketed within the past decade due to the director's and production studio's ability to work with computer generated imagery, special effects, and a very large movie budget. The quality of the aesthetics of the films, the acting, and the writing of these movies have come a long way from when DC believed they could make Shaquille O'Neal a superhero in 1997's Steel. That being said, let us take a look at the top five grossing films of the genre to see who truly rules the box office, the DC or Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Top Grossing DC Films According to IMDB's Box Office Mojo

Superman eyes peering over Batman and the members of the Suicide Squad.

1. The Dark Knight (2008) - $533 Million

In director Christopher Nolan's second Batman film, it is also Christian Bale's second film playing the role of Batman. The success of this film does not branch strictly from Bale's performance, but from Heath Ledger's role as the antagonist, the Joker, as well. Ledger was known to be brilliantly insane in this movie due to his extreme dedication to his role of the character. With great acting and directing, it is no wonder that this film falls as number one for DC's top grossing films.

2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) - $448 Million

As the final film in the Bale Batman trilogy, there was no doubt that this movie would have the success that it did. One could only imagine what would come next for their favorite caped crusader. Yet another impressive actor to fill the role of the villain was Tom Hardy as Bane. The bulked up antagonist carried an eerie and terrifying demeanor, giving Batman one of his toughest feats to overcome. Although the box office success did not overcome the first Dark Knight film, the overall quality of the piece speaks for itself.

3. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - $330 Million

The first Batman film for DC to star Ben Affleck as our hero came with many mixed reviews. Not all were pleased with the choice of who was to play Batman, while others were not pleased with the movie itself. This two and a half hour film was a bit slow for the audience, but that did not stop them from going out to see the film due to their pure interest on how the film would play out.

4. Suicide Squad (2016) - $325 Million

This was the first anti-superhero film of this generation, debuting a star-studded gang of super-villains including actors such as Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Cara Delevinge, and much more. Ben Affleck did portray Batman in the film but was surprisingly uncredited at the end. Being a very intriguing change of pace for your "typical superhero movies", Suicide Squad was still extremely successful. Watching villains forced to work together as a team to defeat one bigger villain was executed very well, being as the audience tends to go against the antagonists in films. Here the super-villains were viewed as the ones who come to save the day, and not the ones particularly destroying the world around them.

5. Man of Steel (2013) - $291 Million

Man of Steel was the second shot at a Superman film this decade, following Superman Returns released in 2006 which grossed less than multiple of the hero's films before 2000. With only a few big names in the film such as Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Michael Shannon and General Zod. Here we see our hero in a sticky situation, having to deal with possibly revealing his secret identity.

Interestingly enough, The Lego Batman Movie released in 2017 comes in at DC Comics number ten in their top-grossing film with $175,695,146. Being the largest grossing animated film between DC and Marvel. This film included a very large cast of stars including Will Arnett as Batman, Michael Cera as Robin, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl/Commissioner Barbara Gordon, Zach Galifianakis as the Joker, and much more. This was also the first film to credit "Siri", the Apple artificial intelligence, as Batman's 'Puter. Although the film was created with the intention to be a children's movie, it caught the attention of an audience of all different ages. With a heavy family oriented story, jokes, and endless puns, it is no wonder that this film was a hit.

Top Grossing Marvel Films According to IMBD's Box Office Mojo

1. The Avengers (2012) - $623 Million

As the first film that tied years of Marvel superhero movies together, it comes as no surprise that The Avengers falls at number one for the top-grossing Marvel films. With films like Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, and Thor all releasing from 2008 on, hearing that all of the heroes that one has come to know and love would be teaming up sent goosebumps through Marvel fans around the world. Returning actors from their separate hero films such as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Chis Hemsworth, made this film the box office hit that it is. And let's not forget about how important Samuel L. Jackson and the beautiful Scarlett Johansson are to the film and its success as well.

2. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) - $459 Million

After the box office success of the first Avengers film, Stan Lee and director Joss Whedon saw that it was obvious that another Avengers film needed to be made. Having every actor and hero return in this movie, the Avengers had to reassemble despite their differences, but oh did they return with a vengeance. More powerful and stronger than ever, these heroes once again swooped in the save the day from Tony Stark's artificial intelligence gone rogue.

3. Iron Man 3 (2013) - $409 Million

As the first film pertaining to this Marvel storyline releasing after the Avengers film, one could only wonder what Tony Stark was up to next and if any of our favorite Avengers would be featured in the film. This and the help of a $200 million budget are what drove this movie's success and box office gross right up to the third most grossing film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

4. Captain America: Civil War (2016) - $408 Million

Yet another Marvel film in the storyline including multiple superheroes, Captain America: Civil War was an action packed battle between friends, colleagues, but most importantly, between a few of the beloved Avengers. Pinned up against each other due to their emotions and drive for power, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Chris Evans as Captain America partook in a feud that seemed would tear the Avengers apart. This was also the introduction to new heroes such as Black Panther and the new and improved Spider-Man.

5. Spider-Man (2002) - $403 million

If something is new, that does not necessarily mean that it is better. In Spider-Man's case, this holds true due to the success of the 2002 original, grossing far more than the modern version, The Amazing Spider-Man. Toby Maguire as Spider-Man, Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin, and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane, brought the film to number five on Marvels top grossing film list. The film released in 2002 was one of the first huge box office hits for the franchise, which has only gone up since.

So who rules the box office, DC or Marvel Films?

The heroes from the DC Extended Universe (left) battling the heroes from Marvel Cinematic Universe(right).

With the release Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017), the Marvel Cinematic Universe has grossed over $11 billion worldwide since Iron Man’s release in 2008, while the DC Extended Universe has grossed $2.5 billion since the release of Man of Steel in 2013.

Some say that the DC Extended Universe rules television with shows like The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Earth Three, and Legends of Tomorrow. While Marvel has their fair share of shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Agent Carter, and Luke Cage, they are not nearly as popular as the DC Extended Universe's television programs. The "big bucks" are in the movies, and this is where we truly get to see our favorite heroes at their best due to the time and effort that one is able to put into creating cinema. 

But what is the answer to who rules the box office, DC or Marvel films? When it comes to the money and success, it seems that Marvel holds the true superpower! Stan Lee and the creative teams involved in the cinematic production and writing processes certainly know their way around making a film, and it seems as if they have no plans of stopping anytime soon.

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