The History Behind The Superhero Movie Genre

words Al Woods

Superhero Movie Genre

Do you wonder since when, how, and who introduced superhero movies in cinemas? It seems like they were always a part of the movie genre. However, that is actually not the truth. We can give credit to their existence to all the superhero comics that have been the favourites of people for generations. 

No need to mention that these comics are pretty amazing and have been part of the childhood of even our parents. But the magic of watching our favourite superhero characters on the screen is something different. We can say that we are in the golden era of the superhero movie genre.

However, one interesting fact is that screen versions of superhero comic books emerged eighty years ago today. So let’s dig into the history behind the superhero movie genre.

Let Us Start With The Very First Superhero Film

The Mark of Zorro was the earliest superhero movie that was released in the 1920s. It is a silent movie, based on a pulp magazine serial that was quite popular in 1919. Also, The Mark of Zorro is mentioned in the DC comic universe as the movie that Bruce Wayne was watching along with his parents just before they died. 

However, there are also some claims that The Shadow, released in 1937, was the first superhero movie. This movie is also based on a character from a pulp magazine.

Though both the movies show such characters from the pulp magazine that was before already popular and continued to gain more following from comic lovers both in print and on-screen for a few decades since their release, they didn’t get the degree of popularity the way in today’s superhero movies receive. 

Which Was The Very First Mainstream Successful Superhero Film?

If you want to know the correct order to watch all DC movies, then you better be aware of their history. 1978, when the film industry released a superhero movie based on Superman, it quickly gained the attention of the cinema community. Superman had the hugest production cost in comparison to any movie ever made at that time. 

The movie showed never seen before special effects that amazed even the adults. Soon the film was declared groundbreaking and the most popular superhero movie to date. 

Apparently, as per Hollywood tradition, many sequels were made later, trying to reach the quality of the original. However, these sequels were failures and doomed the superhero movie franchise. But the original Superman movie was still a hit.

This movie genre got a revival with the release of the Batman movie in 1989 by Tim Burton. But, sadly, the same thing happened to the Batman franchise. The franchise ended with George Clooney with the terrible failure of Batman and Robin.  

It was the late 1990s when the superhero movie genre slowly started making its space into the mainstream film industry. 

Marvel came into the ground of superhero movies with a successful franchise of X-Men and original Spider-Man movies.

With Marvel’s Iron man, the production company strengthened the movie genre, making people consider it a serious entertainment form. 

The Actor That Has Played Superhero Characters Most Often

Though thousands of actors in Hollywood are willing to play the superhero character, For some reason, Movie producers kept on giving most of the superhero roles to white actors with the name Chris!

But, before this strange trend of casting, Huge Jackman played Wolverine from the 2000s and continued to play the same role till 2017. He portrayed the character of Wolverine in nine different movies over almost two decades. 

What’s The Current Status Of The Superhero Genre: Comic Books Or On-Screen Films? 

In the case of any movie that is an adaptation of a novel, the book usually gets immense popularity if the film becomes a hit. But, in the case of comic books, nothing like this happens; you will not see any such effect even when a character from the comic book gains enormous success. 

Though Marvel and DC are releasing superhero movies continuously for decades now, comic book sales have been seeing no rise for years. 

Today, comic book rates have increased a few dollars per issue, yet the number of pages is just the same as they were in the 20s. Buyers are often less interested in buying them, which makes sense. They don’t want to buy dozens of comic books only to read a single story, plus they can watch the exact story depicted in on-screen movies comfortably.

As DC and Marvel keep on evaluating characters and produce alternate storylines, new readers find it confusing, so they prefer to watch something they can understand chronologically. 

Let us see if any positive change will be coming to the comic book industry or not. Currently, DC and Marvel are focusing more on their movies than their comic book publications. 

What’s The Audience’s Take On The Best Superhero Movie? 

Often the superhero genre gets overlooked; some movies managed to receive multiple honourable awards. In total, seven superhero films, including two animated films, have won Academy Awards. 

Where the original Superman Movie received the special achievement award, 

The Dark Knight gave Heath Ledger a posthumous best-supporting actor award. 

However, as per the audience, the most loved Pixar movie, The Incredibles, seems to have a massive fan following waiting for its sequels to release.  


We hope you enjoyed the facts and history about the superhero Movie genre we mentioned here. With amazing special effects and CGI, they bring fun and entertainment to the table. So, which superhero movie will you be watching this weekend? 


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