Superheroes smash their way into the mainstream


Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/ TM & © DC Comics Ben Affleck as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “JUSTICE LEAGUE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Chris Core, Staff member

Burt Ward (left) and Adam West (right) in the Batman TV series that ran from January 12, 1966 to March 14, 1968. (Public Domain)

The superhero genre has evolved past what anyone could have imagined, growing to the point where it doesn’t matter who the next hero in the movie is; if a superhero is in the film, there is sure to be a full house ready to watch.

The 1950s were the beginning of televisions being common appliances in American households. In the 1960s, superheroes grabbed viewers attention with “Batman” the TV series.


With pure cheesy comedy and action sequences that revolved around Adam West as Batman, this lighthearted show used elements like onomatopoeias which would fly across the screen with every punch of the Caped Crusader’s fists to bring the famous hero to life, in the living rooms of fans across the country.

Although it only lasted three seasons and one film, the impact that the show had on comic culture today can not be forgotten.

An article by The Verge emphasized the importance the show had saying, “West made a tremendous impact on comics and pop culture, embodying a character who’s so ubiquitous, he’s arguably the most important superhero of the modern era.”

The leap of success from the TV screen to the big screen became prominent in 1989 with Tim Burton’s film, “Batman” which was a huge triumph that transformed the genre from jokes to nitty-gritty superhero adventures.

Burton’s film made $43.6 million its opening weekend and stole the record for highest grossing box office weekend, previously held by “Ghostbusters II” which had brought in $29.4 million just a week earlier. On the 25th anniversary of the premier of “Batman,” Forbes wrote an article saying, “Batman wasn’t just a summer movie, it was the film event of the year, if not the decade.”

Thus the box office breaking era of superhero movies was born.

Marvel released its film “Spider-man” in 2002 which made history at the box office, becoming the first movie ever to reach $100 million in its opening weekend. “Spider-man” showed moviegoers the potential a big screen Marvel film could have, but Marvels’ full potential would not be found until 2008 with the release of “Iron Man.”

The blockbuster hit earned a total of $585 million worldwide over its lifetime according to and was the first movie in a string of successes for Marvel, which has now released 17 films within the same superhero universe with all 17 being the biggest movie at the box office on release. Each movie has also been commercially successful, with the average total grossed being $306 million.

With Marvel dishing out an insane amount of movies every year, with seven already planned to be released in 2018, some may argue that this quick release of movies waters down the genre and gives fans movies with reoccurring plots and jokes.

However, if past box office receipts are any indication, you would not think that trend is true.

Whether you agree or disagree with if superhero movies should be as popular as they are or if you believe the genre is becoming washed up is solely up to you. But what everyone can agree on is the superhero genre is firmly entrenched in mainstream media and it does not appear to be going away anytime soon.