PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- With Robert Downey Jr. recycling his red-and-gold armor on Friday for the release of Disney's (DIS) Iron Man 3, American moviegoers kick off yet another superhero-laden summer blockbuster season.
After Iron Man jets in, picks up his cash and leaves, there are no fewer than nine comic-book-inspired films waiting to swoop in after him and pick off what little expendable income remains. Moviegoers get less than a month to catch their breath until Superman reappears in Man Of Steel in June. Hugh Jackman stops singing his lines and reinstalls his adamantium claws for 20th Century Fox's (NWS) The Wolverine in July, while everybody's favorite blonde Norse god returns for Thor: The Dark World in November. Throw in some second-tier titles such as Universal's (CMCSA) R.I.P.D., 2 Guns and Kick-Ass 2 and The Weinstein Co.'s long awaited Sin City sequel and hero sagas are doing more than their share of Hollywood heavy lifting.
According to BoxOfficeMojo, comic book adaptations have brought in $11.2 billion at the box office since Christopher Reeve donned blue tights and a cape in Warner Brothers' original Superman film way back in 1978. Not only have the nine top-grossing comic book films of all time been released in the past decade, but comic book films have topped the summer box office four times during that stretch: Spider-Man in 2002, Spider-Man 3 in 2007, The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Avengers just last year.
They're not just attracting moviegoers, either. Big brands such as Burger King (BKC), Dr. Pepper/Snapple (DPS), PepsiCo (PEP), Oracle (ORCL), Volkswagen's (VLKAY) Audi, BMW, Acura (HMC), Under Armour (UA) and others have all thrown money at blockbusters featuring costumed crusaders on the off chance a product cameo or tie-in gets superheroes' huge audiences to buy something other than a ticket and some popcorn.So what does it take to combat superhuman marketing machines that, in the case of last summer's The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers, took in $500 million and $600 million, respectively, in the U.S. alone? With help from BoxOfficeMojo we look a look at summer box office champs dating all the way back to 1982 and found the 10 top-grossing films that weren't ripped from the pages of the nearest graphic novel:
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