As 2010 comes to a close, it’s a good time to look back at the comic book movie adaptations that hit theaters and see how they fared.

While 2010 was a great year for movies that struck a chord with the pop culture crowed (A-Team, Predators, The Karate Kid, and others), there were  few movies released that were based on comic books (or strips in the case of Marmaduke).  The list is rather short – seven titles released over the year – which is understandable considering other movies, like The Expendables had a comic book based on the movie, and other popular movies were adaptations of prose books (Harry Potter).


Here’s a rundown of the films, listed based on their release date.

Kick-Ass (April 16, 2010)

Dave Lizewski is an unnoticed high school student and comic book fan who one day decides to become a super-hero, even though he has no powers, training or meaningful reason to do so.

The Losers (April 23, 2010)

After being betrayed and left for dead, members of a CIA black ops team root out those who targeted them for assassination.

Iron Man 2 (May 7, 2010)

With the world now aware of his dual life as the armored superhero Iron Man, billionaire inventor Tony Stark faces pressure from the government, the press, and the public to share his technology with the military. Unwilling to let go of his invention, Stark, along with Pepper Potts, and James “Rhodey” Rhodes at his side, must forge new alliances – and confront powerful enemies.

Marmaduke (June 4, 2010)

A suburban family moves to a new neighborhood with their large yet lovable Great Dane, who has a tendency to wreak havoc in his own oblivious way.

Jonah Hex (June 18, 2010)

The U.S. military makes a scarred bounty hunter with warrants on his own head an offer he cannot refuse: in exchange for his freedom, he must stop a terrorist who is ready to unleash Hell on Earth.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (August 13, 2010)

Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend’s seven evil exes in order to win her heart.

Red (October 15, 2010)

When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive.


RankTitleRelease DateDistributorOpening WeekendLifetime Gross (Domestic)Production Budget (Estimate)
1Iron Man 2May 7, 2010Paramount$128,122,480$312,128,345$200,000,000
2RedDec 26, 2010Summit Entertainment$21,761,408$88,891,000$58,000,000
3Kick-AssApr 16, 2010Lionsgate$19,828,687$48,071,303$30,000,000
4MarmadukeJun 4, 2010Fox$11,599,661$33,644,788$50,000,000
5Scott Pilgrim vs. The WorldAug 13, 2010Universal$10,609,795$31,524,275$60,000,000
6The LosersApr 23, 2010Warner Bros.$9,406,348$23,591,432$25,000,000
7Jonah HexJun 18, 2010Warner Bros.$5,379,365$10,547,117$47,000,000

It should be pointed out that the table above does not take into account the worldwide box office gross.  So while it may look like half the movies on the list totally tanked, when the worldwide grosses are taken into account some did exceptionally well (Marmaduke brought in nearly $50 million overseas), others did indeed stink it up (Jonah Hex made a measly $356,195 worldwide), and some just made the production cost back (The Losers).  Also, this ranking only takes into account theatrical release grosses, and not money made from DVD sales/rentals.  It’s estimated that Kick-Ass brought in an additional $22 million in DVD sales, Scott Pilgrim nearly $11 million, and The Losers just under $9 million.


There was a lot of talk on the Intardwebz that 2010 marked the beginning of the end for comic book movies.  It does indeed look like a downer year for comic book based movies, with more taking a hit in the United States theaters than bringing in the big bucks.  The biggest loser of the year is Warner Bros. who took a gamble on two properties that had the potential, but simply failed on launch.   This is a big turnaround for the company that still holds the number one spot with The Dark Knight, which brought in $533 million in 2008.   On the plus side, one of the bigger news items this year was the reorganization of Warner Bros. and DC Comics and the time spent in coming up with a plan to market and use the company’s comic book properties going forward.

Are audiences tired of comic book movies?  Based on numbers, signs point to a definite “maybe”.  However, when you dig a little deeper, titles and characters audiences are not familiar with, and stories that were not handled well are the bigger reason viewers shied away from the box office.

One of the other things to make note of is ticket cost. Movie tickets rose an estimated eight-percent in 2010 to $7.95 for traditional movies, with prices for 3-D movies averaging $19.95 per ticket.  With DVD sales and rentals coming in as close or better than opening weekend sales for many of the titles in our ranking, audiences may be sending a signal to theater chains that their tired of overpriced seats, and would rather sit in the comfort of their own home to watch movies, even if it means waiting a couple of months after the initial release.

The big winner for 2010 is Marvel, who raked in the money for Iron Man 2, which ended the year only $6 million shy of the first Iron Man movie.  Marvel is betting audiences aren’t tired of comic book adaptations, as the company has three movies (all Avengers tie-ins) set for 2011.  And as of this posting, the number of comic book adaptations is on par with the number of releases for 2010.

Upcoming Releases for 2011

  • The Green Hornet (January 13, 2011)
  • Thor (May 06, 2011)
  • Priest (May 13, 2011)
  • X-Men: First Class (June 03, 2011)
  • Green Lantern (June 17, 2011)
  • Captain America: The First Avengers (July 22, 2011)
  • Cowboys and Aliens (July 29, 2011)

Looking at the list, there are potentially three movies that might stumble, but considering there are more big name movies on the line up for 2011 than not, the early buzz seems to indicate the 2011 line up will bring in more money than those released in 2010.

Sources: IMDB and Box Office Mojo


About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. Who gave Jonah Hex a $47 million budget with that script? Otherwise for next year I predict it will go:

    1) Thor
    2) Captain America
    3) Green Lantern
    4) X-Men: First Class
    5) Green Hornet
    6) Cowboys & Aliens
    7) Priest

  2. Brad Kalmanson on

    WOW! Starting in May, they seem to be coming out in pairs during May, June, and July. I wonder if the sequential releases will hurt the latter in the box office…

    • It might if it is mostly people like me, who rarely see more than one movie a month (if even that, usually it is one or two a year unless there are a few great movies and I have more cash) in theaters. However, I expect that if people with regular movie habits go to see one, they will probably see the other.

      As for which I’m hoping to see in the theaters (should I pick one per month):
      May: Thor
      June: Green Lantern
      July: Captain America

  3. Its tough to draw conclusions regarding audience interest considering all these movies were released in different times of the year. In particular, “The Losers” was released in April, before the big movie rush, and certainly without the buzz of “Kick-Ass.” The same can be said about “Scott Pilgrim”, which opened in August – and faced down with “Expendables”. “Marmaduke” was more of a comic strip adaptation, while many didn’t even know “Red” was based on a comic . . . and the less said about “Jonah Hex” the better.

    So with that in mind, I think “Kick-Ass” and “Iron Man 2” are two releases most indicative of the comic book craze in theaters – both highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the trend in their own way.

  4. I will probably see all of those; even “X-Men: First Class” which I’m rooting to fail.

    Why can’t H-WOod make me a movie with Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman and Angel? I don’t care about Xavier or Logan. I want the original team dammit.

    • I had hoped for a similar movie, but probably for different reasons. A smaller, tighter cast to focus on would have allowed for a better range of character development and give a reason for viewers to care about them instead of just “Oh, this is so-and-so, with power X, their fave color is blue and now we have to go fight a world-stopping evil for the last hour of the movie. Enjoy the special FX!”.

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