The debate on who is the most powerful Superhero is eternal, but we now know who is the most profitable.
There is always a cutthroat race between Marvel and DC superheroes to become number one. They are often compared in terms of superpowers and the revenue their films generate. The best Superhero remains a debatable subject. However, we know who is the most profitable one.
Marvel Studios, owned by Disney, and DC Comics, owned by Warner Bros., have been at odds for several years, as they’ve both managed to turn themselves into multibillion-dollar film studios. The majority of recent attention has been focused on their film production, but the fight has a significant financial underpinning: licensing revenue. Even though it may not seem spectacular, licensing revenue is equally vital, if not more important, than the money a film generates. However, much like the current state of their cinematic competitors, Marvel reigns supreme in this area, thanks in large part to their most popular hero, everyone’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
Spiderman generates more licensing revenue than the Avengers, Superman and Batman combined. According to licensed merchandise tracker License Global, Disney/Marvel sold roughly $1.3 billion worth of Spider-Man films last year. Second place belongs to the Superhero Batman, who only made $494 million in sales. In the meantime, The Avengers grossed $325 million while Superman made a mere $277 million.
Take the overseas sales out of the equation, and Batman and Spider-Man are almost comparable. When it comes to Batman and Spider-Man movies, a similar scenario usually plays out: Batman movies generate more money in the United States, but Spider-Man wins the war because of his tremendous popularity in Europe and Asia.
Sony And Marvel
Those are some pretty astounding statistics for Spider-Man. However, two rival studios Sony and MCU, share the Superhero’s film rights. Unknown to the general public, Marvel Studios—particularly Marvel Studio’s president Kevin Feige—was keen to reclaim Spider-Man. While Sony was first to grab filming rights to Spiderman, following The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014, it got critical reviews and a mediocre response from fans. The response came as the film was supposed to serve as the launchpad for a series of interconnected Spider-Man Universe films. It was then when Marvel made their move.
The request was simple: allow Marvel Studios to help reinvent Spider-Man and use the character in Captain America: Civil War, the then-upcoming MCU film. Despite numerous meetings with Feige, Sony Pictures CEO Amy Pascal was understandably hesitant. Perlmutter believed that any deal between Marvel and Sony should benefit Marvel, with Marvel receiving a 50% stake in the next Spider-Man film and Sony receiving only a 5% stake in Captain America: Civil War. It further complicated matters, and as you might expect, Sony declined.
Then in 2015, a new deal was struck. A new Spider-Man would make his debut in Disney’s Captain America: Civil War in 2016, and that same Spider-Man would star in a new standalone film produced by Marvel Studios and released by Sony in 2017. The financial agreement agreed was significantly less convoluted than Marvel’s initial offer: each studio would invest completely in its individual films and keep the majority of the revenues. In addition, if the next Marvel-produced Spider-Man movie grossed more than $750 million, the annual price that Marvel pays Sony to keep the toy and merchandise earnings to the Spider-Man character at Marvel would be decreased from $35 million to $25 million (it did).
In retrospect, it’s still incredible to think about how Spider-Man: Homecoming came to be. Without any meaningful monetary exchange, two rival studios got together to share the most profitable Superhero.