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Why ‘The Batman’ Stands Out From Its Superhero Competition


I have no idea how many people watched The Batman on its first day on HBO Max, I’m also not sure how many will choose to rent (for $25) or buy (for $32) the film now that it’s available on all major VOD platforms. But we do have box office receipts, so we know the $185 million budgeted action drama grossed $365.5 million domestically and $752 million worldwide, which easily makes it the year’s highest-grossing film and the fourth-highest-grossing film worldwide in the past 2.5 years, behind only no time to die ($774 million), Battle at Changjin Lake ($910 million, 99% from China) and Spider-Man: No Coming Home ($1.891 billion). Additionally, its domestic gross of $365 million makes it one of the biggest comic book superhero films of “first-party,” even after adjusting for inflation.

It just exceeded the unadjusted domestic sum of $363 million from dead Pool and now sitting behind only Spider Man ($402 million), wonder woman ($412.5 million), Captain Marvel ($426 million) and Black Panther ($700 million). If you take inflation into account, it’s only behind those three dead Pool ($387 million adjusted), Iron Man ($318 million in 2008/$406 million adjusted), superman: the movie ($134 million in 1978/$525 million adjusted) and Batman ($251 million in 1989/$576 million adjusted). Yes The Batman stands out on this list is because it’s the only one that isn’t the first time audiences have seen this given superhero in his own “modern” movie. Iron Man was the first Iron Man movie, wonder woman Was the first wonder woman film. Spider Man arrived after years of legal challenges and near misses. The Batman is the tenth Batman film in 33 years.

All of these other films have their own pre-release and post-release stories. wonder woman clicked into the ‘trump freshman’ zeitgeist as ‘the movie we need right now’, the first Spider Man arrived six months after the September 11 attacks and the first Iron Man kicked off the MCU when it was originally billed as a comic book superhero movie (featuring older movie stars like Robert Downey Jr., Jeff Bridges, and Gwynneth Paltrow) to an audience otherwise too cool for movies of comic superheroes. dead Pool represented a kind of redemption for Ryan Reynolds X-Men Origins: Wolverine embodiment of the character while selling itself as an R-rated cheeky date movie. Superman was the first modern superhero movie with a low-budget spectacle while delivering a healthy dose of post-Watergate optimism. Guess you don’t need me to explain why Batman and Black Panther were a big problem.

But, yes, all of these movies represented “the first time” that these (relatively) popular, beloved, and/or iconic characters got their own big-budget theatrical movie. In this sense, it is important that The Batman, a blank reboot with no real stars (no Jack Nicholson as… The Joker!), no connective tissue to existing franchises (no Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man in a much-heralded cameo!) and no “movie we need right now” zeitgeist (no “Are you kidding him, you kidding New York!” moments) still managed to hit a national total on par with all but the biggest super- heroes of the first part “first on the big screen” films. It earned more in unadjusted and adjusted gross than any reboot, despite being just “another Batman movie”. None of the potential trouble spots (length, child-unfriendly tone, similarities to batman begins and Gotham) seemed to matter.

There’s been a lot of talk about whether the Robert Pattinson/Zoe Kravitz movie should have surpassed $1 billion worldwide, and I’ve always maintained that such a milestone was never an obstacle. to success. Firstly, Batman films tend to be about 50/50 in terms of domestic/foreign affairs, although The dark knight rises ($449 million out of $1.084 billion) is an exception. Second, it’s the fourth “new” live-action Batman franchise (fifth if you count batman forever like a soft reboot) since 1989, with Pattinson being the sixth such actor to don the cowl in 33 years. Third, if Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which was a breakout sequel to one of Marvel’s most popular franchises, couldn’t crack $870 million (with $100 million from pre-Covid China), so no way was The Batman flirting with $1 billion.

Ironically, the second Forbes the articles I wrote, in April 2013, talked about the dangers of normalizing the biggest billion dollars as the bar of success. This was in early 2013, after a year with four of these lumps (The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Skyfall and The Avengers). My thoughts haven’t changed on this, even though Disney’s overwhelming domestic successes (Black Panther, Beauty and the Beast, The Force Awakens) and China’s temporary role in artificially boosting global totals (studios only recoup 25% of China’s) already-successful films have indeed made the 2015-2019 milestone more common than it will be. probably in a world in the age of Covid. Nevertheless, The Batman is impressive in that it is the tenth Batman movie, the fifth “new” Batman movie since 1989 that played like it was the first.