The Seven Most Popular Superheroes of the Last Five Years
Defining a thing like popularity is a nebulous task. However, when it comes to superheroes, there is a great deal of information to consider. Comic book sales, how much a movie grosses and even how frequently a certain name or title shows up in a Google search gives audiences some idea of where a character falls on the spectrum of popularity. The real question becomes what makes them so popular. Like any good countdown, this one starts at the bottom and works its way up.
Thor, while occupying the lowest slot on this list, should not be considered the worst superhero of the last five years. Instead, think of him as the least best. With two self-titled movies and a featured role in another, he is of the strongest forces in the comic book world. In the past, many considered him a B-list comic book character, but he is undisputed box office gold.
6. The X-Men
While they are a group and not a single hero, the X-Men manage to bring both diehard fans and the recently initiated out to premieres. The lore, canon and backstories of these characters provide a wealth of fodder for movie studios and a huge piece of the market share. There simply are not many comic book fans who do not know about these characters, and while many have their own favorite individual, it is the team and the group dynamic that proves to be the real draw.
While Wolverine may be a defacto member of the X-Men and has played a pivotal role in each of the original three movie outings by the team, he has a long and colorful history in his own right. The near-immortal Canadian is often pointed to as the single most popular member of the X-Men universe. The fact that he has had two dedicated feature films in the past five years is just another testament to his popularity with fans and his power at the box office.
Superman may be old school, but it is hard to argue with the popularity of the longest running member of the DC lineup. While Brandon Routh's outing as the "Caped Crusader" did not have the pull that studio executives hoped for, the franchise's popularity as a whole is noteworthy. With six feature films and nearly 70 years of comic books, cartoons, live action series and enough merchandise to clothe and entertain entire countries, there is a lot to be said for history.
3. Iron Man
Iron Man always provides exactly what fans are after. Three films as well as a feature role in "The Avengers" and its sequel has placed the wise-cracking and sometimes just cracked Tony Stark ahead of most other heroes. Perhaps due in large part to Robert Downey Jr's portrayal of the imperfect billionaire playboy, there is a lot to love, hate and love to hate about this character.
Spider-Man represents the quintessential "Local Boy Done Good" archetypal character. He is flawed, naive and jaded, and he struggles with things that his historical fan-base can relate to: school, girls, work, girls, teachers, girls, superhuman villains bent on world domination and, of course, girls. Most recently webbing his way to the screen in "The Amazing Spider-Man," this portrayal of the hero finds him far earlier in his career as a hero and much younger. Toby MacGuire portrayed a much older version of "Spidey," while Andrew Garfield provides a fresher and more innocent look at Marvel's top-grossing character.
Putting the "Detective" in the DC Comics name, Batman rounds out the list. Probably the first real "anti-hero" to be portrayed in the comic world, Bruce Wayne showed everyone that with enough money and enough gadgets, just about anyone could fight crime. Admittedly, that may not be the takeaway that the original writers and artists hoped for, but with "The Dark Knight Returns" providing the closing chapter in the most recent chronicle of his story, many fans are looking forward to the next reboot of the franchise. Regardless of how things go from here, there are still plenty of stories left to tell.
Since the first tales of Hercules were told in ancient Greece, people have been captivated by the deeds of those with powers beyond that of mere mortals. Superheroes fill that niche nicely, providing a different perspective on the moral challenges that everyone faces on a daily basis. This may be the reason that this form of storytelling has endured, as it bridges age, generation and setting to tell a more universal story about what makes a person good or evil.