Top Ten Biggest Events in Superhero Movie History

Now, more than ever, superhero movies are events. The fan-bases are ever-expanding, the anticipation for the next instalment is almost always greater than it was for the film before it, and more and more talented individuals (behind as well as in front of the camera) are campaigning for chances to get involved as the genre matures. Needless to say, anytime we get an update on a new title, a new character, a new trailer, etc... it's a big deal. The media lives on blockbuster movie news, and there are no blockbusters bigger and mightier than the superhero movie. This list compiles the ten biggest developments that rocked the superhero movie world.
The Top Ten
1 'Superman' (1978) Hits Theatres

Nothing can compare to when the genre took its first huge step. Sure, Superman and Batman had been around on the big and small screens for a while by this time (on television, in cartoons, and in movie serials - oh, Google 'movie serial' if you don't know what those are) but nothing as big as this had ever been attempted before. A-grade special effects, a surprisingly-impressive cast (Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, and Jackie Cooper must have been hard to get), and a huge budget (it would be over $200 million in today's dollars), all helped this hopeful film, with a fool-proof script and a talented new director (Richard Donner), become the critical and commercial success it was (it has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed over $1.1 billion in today's dollars). It may have taken a while for things to really get going, but this movie changed everything, and Hollywood never looked back.

2 Heath Ledger's Death and Oscar Win

'The Dark Knight' was a big deal from the moment the film was green-lit. We knew, thanks to the tease at the end of 'Batman Begins' that the Joker was coming, and, instantly, people were waiting with bated breath to see what Christopher Nolan could do with the character. This anticipation only grew as photos released online of Ledger in makeup, and a coded viral marketing website (filled with Joker-y mischief) launched to give the fans something to chew on before the big premiere. And... then everything changed. Ledger was found dead in his apartment in New York City in January of 2008 (six months before the film's release). Thankfully, Ledger had competed his scenes for the film and any subsequent re-shoots did not require his character's presence, so his performance in the film was fully intact and ready for market. But, at Warner Bros.' discretion, the viral marketing shifted away from Ledger's character to keep it from looking like the studio was exploiting his death to sell tickets. Smart move, I'd say. Fast-forward to July. The movie premieres and Ledger's performance gets singled out as one of the film's highlights. Fast-forward again to February of 2009. Ledger receives a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 81st Academy Awards (The Oscars) and is expected to win it. He does, of course, and Ledger becomes only the second actor ever to win an posthumous Academy Award. I think it's safe to say that his legacy is safely cemented in the annals of movie-making history.

3 "The Avenger Initiative"

Samuel L. Jackson only had a few lines of dialogue when he made his first appearance as Nick Fury in the post-credits scene of 2008's 'Iron Man', but that was more than enough to change the genre as we know it. Of course, 'Iron Man' would have been a terrific movie even if it didn't lead on to bigger and better things, but it's all the more significant because it did. At the time of its release, 'Iron Man' was just Marvel's first attempt to make their own movies without handing the rights over to other studios (Fox, Columbia, Universal, New Line, Lionsgate, etc.) to see if they could stand on their own feet. Nobody was expecting to hear the word "Avenger". Believe it or not, most people barely even knew what 'The Avengers' were before they went home to Google it (if they sat through the credits at all, of course). So, you can imagine the frenzy that occurred to the learned public once this little Easter egg started to spread around. Of course, it didn't take much time before things started to pick up. Starting with RDJ's cameo in 'The Incredible Hulk', and continuing with heavy references in 'Iron Man 2'. Of course, by the time 'Thor' came along, everyone knew what was happening. Then, 'Captain America: The First Avenger' removed all doubt that we were in for a big shake up. And that's where 2012, the year of a million nerdy dreams, comes in. 'The Avengers' ('Avengers Assemble', in the U.K.) gave us the biggest superhero movie ever made. It remains 9as of November 2016) as the highest-grossing superhero movie ever, and will likely only ever be beat by equally-huge team up movies in the future (we're waiting on you, Avengers: Infinity War). Now, it's almost hard to imagine superhero movies that don't automatically connect themselves to expanded universes, isn't it?

4 Marvel Begins: 1998-2002

The Bat died in 1997 (It's mentioned in this list a lot, I know), and the superhero genre needed saving, desperately. Thankfully, Marvel Studios was up to the challenge and headlined the modern age of superhero movies, starting off with 1998's 'Blade'. Of course, since that film was a vampire movie more than a superhero movie (and acts more as a cult film), some probably wouldn't give that film the credit of revitalizing the genre. Instead, they'd probably thank 2000's 'X-Men', Marvel's second, and considerably more mainstream-friendly, superhero film (Remember: I am not counting Marvel's earlier 80's and 90's failures and home video titles). That one was the money maker, and is, undeniably, the primary contributor to the genre's second wind. But could they do it again? Could they do better? Could they find success with their A-players? Well, after 'Blade II' (as funny as it sounds, the 'Blade' franchise was Marvel's security blanket at the time) premiered in March of 2002, we got our answer 2 months later. 'Spider-Man' hit the theatres and kicked the superhero movie genre into high gear. As you know, Marvel hasn't stopped since.

5 Batman Reboots

We all know how bad 'Batman & Robin' was. It's one of the all-time great bombs. What some people might not know was that it almost completely killed the franchise, and superhero movies in general.Thankfully, game changers like 2000's 'X-Men' and 2002's 'Spider-Man' swooped in to save the day. But, while Marvel had its cinematic department hard at work continuing its newfound success, DC's cinematic future still looked dismal. That was, until, somebody came up with the genius idea to turn Batman on his head. They, of course, rebooted the franchise in 2005 with 'Batman Begins'... and a lot of people were confused. The word "reboot" wasn't as well known in the movie world back then as it is today, and it took a bit of time for people to understand that THIS Batman wasn't, in any way, connected to the 1989-1997 series. Well, once the realization set in, and the movie became a bonafide success, it became clear that Hollywood had an all-new, fail-safe strategy on their hands. Now, every blockbuster franchise is trying it. It's like the new street drug. Everyone's addicted. Just look at Sony's 'Spider-Man' franchise. If rebooting was REALLY like drugs, poor Spidey would have O.D.'d in a New York alleyway by now.

6 'Batman' (1989) Hits Theatres

'Superman' captivated audiences in 1978 with its colourful playfulness and its flair for adventure and fun. As a result, we got three sequels and a 'Supergirl' movie. But that's all that superhero movie fans had for 12 years (if you don't count the two 'Swamp Thing' movies, which I don't). By the late 80's Warner Bros. smartened up and put into production one of the best superhero movies we'd ever get, 1989's 'Batman'. The film signalled a major tonal shift in superhero film-making, as most subsequent hero flicks of the 90's featured darker atmospheres and focused on more mysterious and conflicted characters (like 'The Crow', 'The Shadow', and 'The Phantom'). In truth, there were only a few films, like 'The Rocketeer', that didn't seem to want to ride the 'Batman' wave of success. And while most of those 90's followup films were less-than-great, Batman's continuing influence as a game changer has showed us that breaking convention is sometimes the best way to make a movie (especially in the superhero genre). Face it, without risk-taking, we wouldn't have 'Guardians of the Galaxy'.

7 Spider-Man Joins the MCU

Nobody thought it would happen. Nobody thought it COULD happen. But, after 2014's 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' disappointed fans and made far less at the box office than what Sony Pictures wanted, emails started shooting from Sony to Marvel and back, outlining details that eventually led to having the red and blue web-slinger join his family in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. At first, when the Sony email leak occurred in November 2014, we were made to believe that the conversation between companies had stalled and that the deal was off. It wasn't until a few months later that we learned that things didn't so south, and that an official deal had, in fact, been made. The deal was that Spider-Man would be able to appear in the MCU, starting with an appearance in 2015's 'Captain America: Civil War' and leading up to a solo film in 2017, with Marvel giving final say on everything, and the distribution rights (for solo films) to Sony. As a result, every plan that had been made for the 'Amazing Spider-Man' franchise was cancelled (thank goodness) and a new actor was chosen to play Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland, who did an incredible job in 'Civil War'). I have high hopes for 2017's 'Spider-Man: Homecoming', and I'm sure you do too. Thanks Sony, for giving Marvel back their golden boy.

8 Hugh Jackman Calls it Quits

Yes, Hugh Jackman has called it quits on playing Wolverine. It is a sad time to be alive. After playing the role for an astonishing 17 years (wow, that's a commitment), Jackman has announced that 2017's 'Logan' will likely be his last appearance as the X-Men's headlining superhero. The film is (as of November 2016) an R-rated picture (no doubt thanks to the unexpected success of Fox's newest favourite child, 'Deadpool') and will hopefully end off Logan's troubled story arc in a way that doesn't echo the failure of his first solo outing, 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' (which I'm pretty sure is no longer canon - and I am NOT just talking about it being erased because of the time travel in 'Days of Future Past' - I'm pretty sure the franchise wants to forget it ever existed at all). Whatever happens, I cannot blame Hugh for making this decision to move past the franchise (the guy has to be exhausted from all the training he has to do for each film), but I will be sad to see him go. I am sure the entire movie-going public feels the same way.

9 'Batman & Robin' Almost Kills the Genre

The Batman franchise crashed HARD in 1997. You know this well, no doubt. 'Batman & Robin' was supposed to ride the wave of success that Warner Bros. thought 'Batman Forever' had created. What they didn't realize was that while 1995's mixed affair of a film succeeded in bringing in more money than 1992's dark and gloomy 'Batman Returns', thanks to its colourful marketability, it was way too goofy and plastic-looking (especially since 1989's 'Batman' had just finished correcting the expectations of casual fans who'd only ever known the 1960's T.V. series). The Bat-fans were mostly able to forgive the film, for its slightly-misguided production, but it was a different story when 1997 came along. Let's just say that if watching 'Batman Forever' was like having a handful of Skittles shoved in your mouth, watching 'Batman & Robin' would be like having a one ton bag of them shot out of a cannon, right at your face. I don't have to get into detail on what made B&R so terrible, because you've probably already seen it. But, if you haven't, be sure to watch it sitting down because this visual sugar rush of a film may cause sensory failure in both legs.

10 'Batman v Superman' "Flops"

It's hard to imagine a movie that made over $873 million being considered a "flop" isn't it? Well, when you consider that the movie cost a whopping $250 million to make, and that it was the first movie to ever have Superman and Batman on-screen together, and that it was the first live-action movie to ever feature Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg at all, you can imagine Warner Bros. being disappointed with a box office return of less than $1 billion. I mean, Marvel made more money on a movie that starred a talking raccoon and a sentient tree. That's sad. And, to make matters worse, almost everyone hated the movie. Why? Superman was still too sad and frumpy, a lot of people didn't like Batman killing people, and the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader stopped fighting because their mom's are both named Martha. A movie that should have been likened to 'The Avengers' ended up being a closer relative to 'Batman & Robin', critically, and the DC Extended Universe, which was supposed to be "fixed" by this movie (after 'Man of Steel' disappointed everyone), went from being a competitive power franchise (to compete with the Marvel Cinematic Universe) to a risky proposition. 'Suicide Squad' may have brought in a huge profit (despite the equally-negative response), but the franchise is still just barely afloat. Now, we're counting on 2017 (which is giving us 'Wonder Woman' and 'Justice League') to hopefully make things right.

The Contenders
11 Marvel vs DC "Civil War"
12 Iron Man Started MCU

The beginning of the greatest, most ambitious film franchise in history.

13 Catwoman Movie Being Complete Garbage
14 Guardians of the Galaxy breaks August records
15 The Avengers Makes $1.5 Billion
16 Catwoman Wins Razzies, Halle Berry Accepts it.
17 The Incredibles (2004) becomes the highest scoring superhero movie on Rotten Tomatoes at 97%
18 The Amazing Spider-man 2 underperforms thus ending the series and Sony sells the rights to the MCU
19 The Dark Knight becomes the first superhero film to join the 1 billion club
20 Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron ends up as a disappointment
21 Spider-man 3 nearly kills off the Spider-man franchise
22 Iron Man 2 flopped
23 Suicide Squad gets a rotten rating but ends up winning an Oscar
24 Deadpool went on to become a box office blockbuster
25 X-men Origins: Wolverine ends up as a critical failure
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