Updated: Article now includes Opening Weekend box office numbers and information concerning Marvel and DC Comics sales figures
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Superhero films have been popular since Christopher Reeve donned blue spandex and a red cape in 1978's Superman movie. While there has been a steady stream of comic book-based superhero movies since then, 2000's X-Men release ushered in a whole new era for the genre.
Since 2000, Hollywood has released 61 superhero films that have captivated audiences as special effects and 3-D technology has improved.
This renewed interest in classic comic book characters on the silver screen has proved to be extremely lucrative for industry stalwarts Marvel and DC Comics. Marvel was purchased by Disney (DIS) five years ago for $4 billion and DC Comics has been a subsidiary of Warner Bros for nearly three decades.
The two company's dominate the superhero comic book market share with Marvel and DC Comics earning 35.42% and 27.22% of the dollars spent on comic books respectively.
The glut of releases in the genre is due mainly to the fact that the films are so profitable. Four out of the top ten highest grossing films of all time are superhero movies. The Dark Knight Rises (10th - $1.08 billion worldwide gross), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (7th - $1.12 billion), Iron Man 3 (6th - $1.21 billion) and Marvel's The Avengers (3rd - $1.5 billion) have all been released in the last four years.
Despite the overall success of these films, clearly not every superhero movie is created equally. While there have been some triumphs there have also been plenty of clunkers as well (Catwoman and any of the Transformers movies after the first one I'm looking at you). Superhero movies, much like the comic books that preceded them, strike a personal chord with fans of the genre that one may not get with a generic action or romantic comedy film.
This is a list of the 10 greatest superhero movies of all time.
The Dark Knight Rises
Production Budget: $250 million
Opening Weekend Sales: $160.88 million
Domestic Gross: $448.13 million
Total Gross: $1.08 billion
The finale of Christopher Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader was a fitting end to a brilliant trilogy. The film picks up eight years after the events of the Dark Knight film (more on this later) with a battered and broken Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) no longer fighting crime as his alter ego, the Batman. With the Joker defeated and the Falconi crime syndicate in jail, Gotham experiences a golden era void of criminal masterminds trying to destroy the city. However a new threat emerges when the evil Bane (Tom Hardy) decides that it is time Gotham paid for its sins.
What makes this movie great is the story of redemption as Bruce Wayne goes from uninterested in being Batman again to donning the mask and cowl only to be mentally and physically broken in half by a superior enemy in Bain, and finally reemerging from the depths to once again save his beloved city of Gotham. Despite being 20 to 25 minutes longer than it should (it is a Christopher Nolan movie after all) the Dark Knight Rises felt like a fitting farewell to one of cinema's most entertaining trilogies.