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It is official: Iron Man is a monster hit, taking in over $200 mil worldwide in its first weekend.

Pictures and Marvel Studios’ Iron Man exceeded all expectations, earning a massive $100.75 million during its opening weekend domestically from 4,105 theaters and $104.2 million since debuting Thursday night, averaging $24,543 per site. Internationally, the film has also earned an incredible $96.7 million in 57 countries since it began opening Wednesday, putting its worldwide total at $201 million after just five days!

As predicted, it’s the 10th biggest opening ever, the 4th biggest opening for a superhero movie, and the second biggest non-sequel movie opening, after Spider-Man.

The news is great for Marvel, of course, although traditionally their stock dips after each and every blockbuster as profit-takers sell off. Stock was up slightly on Friday behind very heavy volume. We’ll update it when the market opens. They’re holding their Q1 earnings call this morning, and that should be a lot of fun to listen to.

On the larger front. this will do nothing to crimp Hollywood’s love affair with the comics…well, hell, we write this every time a comic-book-movie does well, but the fact is that CBM’s do very well at the box office. Now, the movies that do well are always based on source material of some vision and/or passion — from Spider-Man to 300 to Ghost World. It remains to be seen of the stampede of “made to be optioned” comics to the option block will result in any actual films, let alone good films. Even something like 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, which opened at #1 but was generally undistinguished yet profitable, was based on a graphic novel which had flair and originality. But there will have to be many, many, MANY clinkers to end this love affair.

But there is always a naysayer, as Popular Mechanics points out that comic book movies, are driving out real SF films:

Despite the rise of the so-called graphic novel over the past few decades—self-contained, morally complex comic series like Alan Moore’s Watchmen and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns—comic books are still widely regarded as kiddie stuff. And when X-Men and Spider-Man recently proved that film adaptations of popular comics were a relatively untapped box-office goldmine, they did so without substantially updating the science behind the superheroes.

We’ll throw in our own little naysay here: while IRON MAN’s critical response is the best ever for a superhero movie, it is not, in our opinion, the best ever superhero movie, let alone best ever comic book movie. It is very very good, but the plot is too formulaic for that. We’d pick SPIDER-MAN 2 as the best superhero movie — just our opinion, mind — followed closely by BATMAN & ROBIN. Wink wink! But you know, almost every time a good superhero movie opens everyone thinks it’s the best ever for a while.


  1. I dunno…. best ever superhero movie? That might go to “The Incredibles”.

    Meanwhile, I eagerly await the feedback from people who took you seriously about your comment about “Batman & Robin”.

  2. Other superhero movies worth considering: Unbreakable.

    As for comics, Men In Black, Old Boy, Akira, Nausicca Of The Valley Of Wind, Persepolis, American Splendor, and Road To Perdition are worth considering.

    Say, anyone want to make Flying Friar? 8-)

  3. I may be dating myself, but there’s a little flick called SUPERMAN that came out in 1978 that should easily be in contention for Best Superhero Movie Ever.

    SPIDER-MAN 2 is a close second, though.

  4. What was the magic formula here? Good word of mouth? Faithful translation? Good actors? Director who actually respected the source materical? Noticable lack of brooding and angst in the trailers?

    I’m giddy about seeing it tomorrow night.

  5. Iron Man was excellent, but I second you on Spiderman 2. Superman loses because of the brainless ending.

    sidenote: The genius screenwriter behind Batman and Robin later won an Oscar for writing A Beautiful Mind, and is also responsible for the abomination that was I Am Legend (as well as the upcoming Hancock). I wish Hollywood would stop funding his violent assaults on the medium of film.

  6. Re: the “magic formula”–

    Timing did have a lot to do with it, as it’s one of the first big “pre-summer” films, but it’s clearly been well-marketed on the basis of the concept (weapons maker turns superhero). GHOST RIDER opened the other year in a similar pre-summer period (April, I believe). It made respectable money but clearly it didn’t have the magic to make the average moviegoer say, “That sounds like a cool movie.”

    Ditto Kevin’s opinion on Akiva and Heidi’s on the movie, as IRON MAN is a very good formula film but stops short of exceptional (if for perversity’s sake one wanted to compare it to something in the Hitchcock oeuvre, it would be on the level of SUSPICION or LADY VANISHES).

  7. Wow, I thought you guys were kidding about Spiderman 2, but there have been several votes of approval in the comments, so some folks must have liked it. (I missed it on the big screen, and having only ever seen it on the small screen, I was so unimpressed that I wouldn’t watch it again.)

    I am with Sphinx in that I’d definitely put The Incredibles in the top five. ;)

  8. I’m with Sphinx and Alana. I feel like “The Incredibles” gets short shrift from comic book people because it wasn’t based on a previously existing property and took liberal doses of inspiration from established comic series, like the Fantastic Four. But that’s precisely what made it so great: it captured the *feel* of what makes a great superhero story without being bogged down by decades of continuity and the demands of rabid fans. (See the disaster that was the “Fantastic Four” movie. Or, don’t.)

    For my money, “The Incredibles” was the best pure escapist entertainment since “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

    “Iron Man” was a great showcase for Robert Downey, Jr. bogged down by a solid HOUR of “How I became Iron Man” tedium. Remember when the point was to get the character into costume as quickly as possible so we can move on to the good stuff? In this film, the “good stuff” was an afterthought.

  9. I’m always confused about why superhero movies are held to different standards/expectations of other genres. Would we accept the “let’s get right into the action and forego the character development” in any other genre? It seems that the most critically successful movies of this genre are those that focus on being an entertaining movie with mass appeal rather than a note-for-note recreation of a comic book story (examples: Superman, X-Men, Iron Man, Batman Begins).

  10. Spidey 2 is easily the best superhero movie ever made. It’s epic, fun, and god forbid, actually moving. Something that’s missing in every other superhero movie except the original 2 Superman films.

  11. The Phantom was GREAT!. It only suffered in that Raiders of the Lost Ark had already done stories similar to it years before.

    And let’s not forget the Rocketeer movie.

    Superman went downhill quickly right after Gene Hackman appeared on screen.

  12. Jesse: “Would we accept the ‘let’s get right into the action and forego the character development’ in any other genre?”

    Of course not. But then, comic fans are already familiar with these characters and breathlessly awaiting their appearance on screen. “I’ve been reading this character’s adventures for YEARS, I tell you!! When does the hero make his/her appearance??”

    SUPERMAN … I liked the movie as he was growing up. Once he hits Metropolis, and begind the “meek, mild-mannered” bumbling bit, I lost interest.

    IRON MAN … Is the plot formulaic? Maybe. It is a GOOD plot and story? Absolutely! That alone raises it to the top of the list. Most of these super-hero films (nearly all of the Batman films for instance) either have NO plot … or they abandon it halfway through for the standard “Let’s kill the hero” team-up.

    Now that IRON MAN had done great, let’s see it they write a great plot for the second film … or if they go the route of other comic book/action sequels and just get to the “good stuff.”

  13. I am sure it is a mistake that no one has mention the obvious, that Hulk is the best superhero movie ever, X-men 2, Spider-man 2, Iron Man and Unbreakable fill out the rest of the top 5.
    Sorry i cant stand Pixar movies.

  14. Heidi! Kudos on not picking BATMAN BEGINS. I have to say, I’ve always felt that Spidey 2 was the pinnacle myself. That train scene? Oh man! When the hands come out to catch him… wow.

    THE PHANTOM, though, was pretty sweet. so sad no one saw it.