10 Most Expensive Superhero Films Ever Created

In the past decade, many superhero films have undoubtedly enjoyed huge box office success and heaped critical acclaim. A few superhero movies did not sit well the general moviegoers and critics alike, though. Green Lantern, Daredevil, Elektra, and the two Ghost Rider movies failed to capitalize on the success of their predecessors such as the Spiderman series, The Watchmen, and the Batman trilogy (the one Christian Bale starred in).

But if one takes a step back and look at the big picture, it is more hits than misses for superhero films, which is why we can expect more of them in the foreseeable future. But making them is no cheap affair. Whether they hit or flop at the box office, superhero movies are quite expensive. So, in celebration of superheroes and their films, here are the 10 most expensive superhero movies ever produced.

10. X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – $200 Million


Die hard fans of the classic comic series The X-Men were jubilant and excited when news of the first X-Men movie came out. But when it did, it was just the first of many misfires in the series that included three X-Men movies and two films dedicated to Wolverine. But it wasn’t until a reboot/origin film titled X-Men: First Class that the series got a positive boost from fans and critics. Riding on that success is the most recent film of the franchise, X-Men: Days of Future Past, which was a commercial and critical success. The whole cost for producing the film? Just $200 million. But the gains totalled to almost $750 million.

9. Iron Man 3 (2013) – $200 Million


The third installment of the Iron Man series, Iron Man 3 is said to be the last of the franchise. Costing $200 million to produce, the film was also a massive hit in the box office, earning $1.2 billion. It is also praised well by critics, citing its darker storyline makes the film a refreshing feast from its predecessors. Rumor has it that a fourth film is currently being negotiated but with fans clamoring for the Civil War storyline, where Iron Man and Captain America turn against each other, it looks like Iron Man 3 is the series’ final film.

8. Green Lantern (2011) – $200 Million


As mentioned in the intro, superhero films are expensive, but that does not mean they will tickle fans and critics and do well in the box office. Green Lantern is one huge example of that. Even with an investment of $200 million, producers and Ryan Reynolds failed to break even and lost $90 million when it was all over. DC Comics has announced that they plan to release a series of films that will tie up with The Man of Steel. While a Green Lantern film is included, there is no official word if  Ryan Reynold’s green-costumed fella will be given the green light.

7. Spider-Man 2 (2004) – $200 million


Actually, three Spider-Man films were given the same budget of $200 million: Spider-Man 2 and The Amazing Spider-Man 1 & 2. Spider-Man 2 from Sam Raimi’s version starred Tobey Maguire while the other two featured Andrew Garfield in the Marc Webb reboot. All films have managed to score huge gains in the box office, but among the three, Spider-Man 2 from Raimi’s trilogy has fared better commercially.

6. Superman Returns (2006) – $204 Million


The first major Superman film after the Christopher Reeve-starred series, Superman Returns was a risky move as it is virtually a continuation of the Christopher Reeve films, that is assuming that events in Superman III and Superman IV did not happen. Featuring Brandon Routh as Clark Kent / Superman, the film was a decent performer in the box office, earning just over $391 million. Critics gave the movie favorable reviews, with many of them saying it was an entertaining, enjoyable superhero flick.

5. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – $210 Million


The most expensive film of the X-Men saga, X-Men: The Last Stand is a fine example of a high-grossing superhero film that many would never want to watch again. Many fans and observers felt that the movie was silly and the plot ridiculous, which involved a “cure” to permanently rid mutants of their powers. While the film earned almost $460 million, many stated that it was a movie that almost doomed the franchise. X-Men: First Class changed all that.

4. The Avengers (2012) – $220 Million


When you have a group of superheroes in one film, shelling a huge sum of money seems logical, considering many of these characters have their own series leading up to the big one. Making The Avengers cost the producers, Marvel Studios and Disney, a hefty $220 million. But looking at the dividends, the investment paid off as The Avengers registered a gigantic $1.52 billion gains after all was said and done. The sequel, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, is expected to do better and perhaps topple frontliners Titanic and Avatar off their pedestal.

3. Man of Steel (2013) – $225 million


A reboot of the Superman franchise, Man of Steel explores the origin of Superman aka Clark Kent aka Kal El. Starring Henry Cavill as the titular character, Man of Steel performed well in the box office, raking in over $668 million over a budget of $225 million. However, reception was mixed and critics derided the film’s storyline, which offered nothing new and did little to develop the characters. Despite the criticisms, DC has decided to make Man of Steel as one of the anchors of their upcoming project The Justice League, which will compete with Marvel’s The Avengers.

2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $230 Million

Being the final installment of a successful Batman trilogy, producers of The Dark Knight Rises felt that it deserved a colossal budget of $230 million to create. And it was a good move as the film became one of the top ten highest grossing films of all time. Not only that, the movie is also the top-grossing Batman film out of the 10 Batman movies produced by DC and Warner Bros. Despite its success, director Christopher Nolan refused to include superpowered characters in his series, which prompted producers to give a green light for a new Batman-Superman film that will star Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader. Still, many think that Christian Bale did a good job as Batman, if not better.

1. Spider-Man 3 (2007) – $258 Million


The last Spider-Man film of Sam Raimi’s trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, Spider-Man 3  was considered by many as the worst film of the series. Fans and critics dished out a tirade of negative feedbacks on how Raimi handled the film. However, it can’t be denied that Spider-Man 3 is also the top grossing Spider-Man film to date and is listed as one of the top 35 high grossing movies of all time, garnering over $890 million worldwide. The two films from the reboot series directed by marc Webb may have heaped positive praises, but they pale in comparison against Spider-Man 3 when it comes to box office figures.

Jenny Chang

By Jenny Chang

Jenny Chang is a senior writer specializing in SaaS and B2B software solutions. Her decision to focus on these two industries was spurred by their explosive growth in the last decade, much of it she attributes to the emergence of disruptive technologies and the quick adoption by businesses that were quick to recognize their values to their organizations. She has covered all the major developments in SaaS and B2B software solutions, from the introduction of massive ERPs to small business platforms to help startups on their way to success.

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