Comics Creators

DC Comics movies since 1982


Just been emailing with pals this morning and I was quite surprised when I saw this list…

Swamp Thing
Superman 3
Superman 4
Return of the Swamp Thing
Batman returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy
Jonah Hex
Green Lantern
Superman Returns
The Losers
Man of Steel
Batman Vs Superman.

Out of those 22 pictures, I can only count 4 that made money, even taking the official budgets into account. Batman Begins I think is the best of all the movies on this list, but it only made 370 million (which is a loss with a 200 million budget plus marketing).

Very interesting.



Which are the four that made money? I had assumed the Burton Batman movies and Batman Forever were successful in that regard as they got sequels in short order, and the same for Man of Steel and the Nolan sequels. But that’s already 6! :slight_smile:


MOS had of official budget of 225 and they spent over 100 mill marketing. The true cost like all studio movies will be a little higher and a lot of those final grosses came from China, where the complex process means only 1 in 4 dollars comes back as revenues to the studios). So even OFFICIALLY their return of $660 was a break-even at best, though I suspect they lost some dough. Hence, there is no plans for another Superman solo movie between now and the end of the decade when even the modest losses of Batman Begins led on to an immediate sequel.

Batman Returns was interesting because it didn’t make any money (despite the high quality of the product in my opinion) and Schumacher was brought in to save the franchise, as hard as that is to believe now. It cost over 80 and they spent a lot on marketing so the grosses meant it didn’t see a profit, but the BIG problem was that the toys were a tragedy after the triumph of the Batman toys, which grossed even more than the record-smashing movie numbers. Batman Forever (which I have a weird fondness for) only made a very, very modest profit (cost 100, marketing over 50, worldwide gross of 330), but the toys did gangbusters and Joel S was a hero at WB for steadying the franchise as far as people were concerned. So even though Forever only made a modest profit it’s still in profit, which is why it’s one of the four.

Interesting aside: Batman movies only REALLY make a huge profit when The Joker is in them (66, Tim Burton’s 1989 and 2008). Begins made 370, Dark Knight made over a billion and Rises, I think, owes the billion plus to the momentum from Dark Knight in a lot of ways. My theory and I say this as a HUGE Batman fan: Audiences love The Joker more than Batman.


Interesting, thanks! I didn’t realise Returns was such a bomb. I thought they were still trying to get Burton to come back for a third but he turned them down. Interesting.

So it’s basically only Batman movies that have made DC money in the last three-and-a-half decades? And even then, only half of them?


Yep. Even with the OFFICIAL numbers (and a lot of these budget numbers released are massively downplayed).



Which is criminal when you look at the quality of the product.


I kinda feel a small amount of sympathy for the producers of Superman Returns as they had all the additional development costs of the Nic Cage/Burton Superman film added on.

I’ve still not seen:

Return of the Swamp Thing
The Losers

But I’ve seen the Catwoman basketball scene and that may be enough for me :slight_smile:


I liked The Losers a fair bit actually. I’m surprised it didn’t do better.

Of that list, I’ve never seen the Swamp Things, Supergirl, Steel, Jonah Hex or Catwoman. Did I miss much?


Same here. I think it got torpedoed by the A Team, which it had a broadly similar concept to (and was much better than).

I saw Andy Diggle mention on Twitter recently that he made sod all out of the Losers movie as well, as DC/Vertigo didn’t bother to put the collected editions back into print with the movie, so there were no cross-over sales. I definitely remember failing to find copies of the trades after seeing the movie.


Whether you quibble on the profitability or not of some borderline ones, it does show how few big hits they’ve had.

I was surprised that they’d managed 22.


I liked the losers too even though it was slightly similar to the A-Team movie. It was a fun movie though.


What bugged me about The Losers movie was that was a dumb action film in a sea of dumb action films. The Losers comic had a political element that was jettisoned from the movie, which while it might not have played in middle America, it would have distinguished The Losers from The A-Team or The Expendables.


I actually haven’t read the comics for The Losers. Is it any good?


I remember liking it at the time, but have to admit to not having read it in quite a while. It was very much a caper/heist type comic, which I don’t think that anyone was doing at the time. The basic idea is that The Losers of the title are a special forces team who were targeted for death by the CIA, and are now presumed dead. They don’t know why. The book is about them going to war with the CIA to get their lives back, with lots of twists and turns.

It did have a bit of a political point of view, so I’m not sure how much that helped or hindered it. It is a lot more serious in tone than the movie.

Most of the art is by Jock, so I think that I can say without fear of contradiction that it looks beautiful.


Oh, that sounds interesting. And Jock’s art is really outstanding and beautiful. :smile: I’ll try and pick it up if I can. Might be an interesting read for me.


Wait — is this like The Big Short where Warners is secretly in a huge debt that’s just taking ages to catch up because of creative accounting and will surely spell the end ?


As I understand it, the movie industry is all about creative accounting (says the guy who works in Financial Services).


Hollywood runs on fumes?

Maybe Bollywood has the right idea.


Looking at this list, it’s hard to fault them for the direction they took with their current run, although their TV success (animated and live action) suggests they should be aiming more for the Harry Potter crowd.

You could argue that Frank Miller was both the best and the worst thing to happen to DC comics.


So why do think DC has such a low hit ratio? Do you think their long term association with Warner Brothers has handicapped them? Whereas, Marvel had several somewhat independent years to develop their voice before being folded into Disney.