The Marvel vs. DC debate has been going on for decades, and right now Marvel holds the advantage — at least at the box office.
According to Bloomberg, Marvel’s comic book films have generated 47% more revenue than DC’s. Marvel, now owned by Disney (DIS), has also produced more films than its rival. Marvel properties have been featured in 28 films in the past 15 years, compared to 23 films in 35 years for DC, a Time Warner (TWX) subsidiary. The average gross for Marvel’s films is $190 million — far better than DC’s $129 million average.
A few things boosted Marvel’s average, most notably The Avengers, whose $623 million domestic total is the highest of any superhero film. A strong Spider-Man franchise also helped, earning more than $1 billion across four films — with one more in production.
DC’s best performer was 2008’s The Dark Knight, which brought in $533 million dollars. The film’s success came partially from Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, which earned him a posthumous Academy Award. No doubt, Batman is DC’s most successful superhero at the box office, accounting for six of the company’s seven highest-grossing films. This week’s Man of Steel, the latest Superman movie, should boost DC’s average. (A rumored Justice League movie, with its potential to spin off a Wonder Woman franchise, would also help.)
A final note: The Bloomberg article notes that Marvel was helped by inflation. Adjusting ticket prices to reflect that rise puts the averages much closer. DC’s adjusted average is $194 million, compared to $215 million for Marvel — a 10% difference.
Adam Benjamin is an Assistant Editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.