The Superhero Film: Dawn of Blockbuster Sustainability

Open Access
Magagna, Michael Joseph
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Suzanne Wright, Thesis Supervisor
  • Henock Louis, Honors Advisor
  • superhero
  • film
  • comic-book
  • movie
  • sustainability
  • accounting
  • superman
  • batman
  • the dark knight
  • x-men
  • spider-man
  • marvel
When audiences enter cinemas today, they witness a plethora of advertisements showcasing the latest superhero films. Furthermore, 2016 will see the release of six new superhero films – the most a single calendar year has experienced yet. The superhero film is currently the apex of the entertainment industry, with frequent motion picture releases being prioritized by studios and audiences alike. But is this sustainable? Over the course of this composition, the history of the superhero film is analyzed to fully understand its ascension to the top of the motion picture industry and its potential sustainability. Considering 1978’s Superman as the beginning of the genre, the history analysis encompasses all major franchise films up to 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The key metric that is analyzed for each film is reception, both critical and financial. Critical figures are derived from the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes while film grosses represent financial reception. In order to umbrella financial figures from different decades, average ticket price is used to create the number of tickets sold per film. Implementing these various figures, the superhero film analysis covers four distinct periods – the industry’s rise (Chapter 2), its new millennium (Chapter 3), the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its impact (Chapter 4), and its role as the industry driver (Chapter 5). Chapter 2 witnesses the superhero film transform itself to a mockery. Chapter 3 sees the rebirth of the superhero film and its gradual ascension in the industry. Chapter 4 changes the motion picture industry as a whole with Marvel’s shared-universe format. Consequently, Chapter 5 presents the industry attempting to emulate Marvel. That is the point where there industry sits today. As a result of this analysis, certain factors are determined that promote future sustainability for the superhero film industry.