Has Thor Struck Hammer Blow In Superhero Wars?

This weekend Thor managed to stay in the top 3 at the box office, adding another $15.5m to its haul, for a total domestic gross so far of $145m. Thor’s box office performance so far isn’t a patch on many of the comic-book adaptations we’ve seen recently, but as a second tier hero played by a virtual unknown, it is a pretty good number. Will it be enough, though, to see Thor standing victorious in the comic-book movie wars at the end of the Summer?

Still to come we have Marvel’s other Avengers lead-in, Captain America, another Marvel adaptation in the form of Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, and DC’s Green Lantern, as played by Ryan Reynolds. Cap and Lantern are both secondary characters in their respective universes, whilst the X-Men are no strangers to the big screen, with four movies in the last 10 years.

Both Thor and the forthcoming Captain America should receive a leg-up from the popularity of the Iron Man series, particularly as both movies got a nod from Iron Man 2 last year. They are both part of the big set-up by Marvel for 2012’s Avengers movie, in which they’ll both play a big part. This makes both movies a must see for anyone interested in Iron Man, or The Avengers, or both. This need to keep up with continuity may also however be a turn-off for some audiences, so it is hard to really quantify how much effect this will all have on their final numbers. Cap star Chris Evans should me more recognisable than Thor’s Chris Hemsworth to the mainstream audience, but the effect this will have is probably negligible. Captain America looks set to make around the same amount as Thor, with a little more potential for financial success but a much more competitive release date.

Green Lantern is, in some ways, a much harder sell. Hal Jordan has never been on the big screen, and though DC stablemate Batman has found huge success both critically and at the box office, there is no crossover, and the space-based origin of the Green Lantern Corps means tonally the two properties really couldn’t be more different. Indeed, the more casual audience may well have no clue there is any connection. In theory, star Ryan Reynolds is a much bigger name than Marvel’s leading men Hemsworth and Evans, but so far he has yet to appear in any major blockbusters, save his short cameo as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

X-Men: First Class is the most interesting one. The X-Men franchise has been huge, making hundreds of millions of dollars. First Class is, however, a prequel, and not even really a direct one. It has a low-key cast, and the trailers paint it as a much more considered, intelligent and emotional film. In contrast to the bombastic, and almost slapstick nature of Thor, it is being sold as a much more grown-up picture, aimed at a more mature audience. This may put off the younger audience, which will hit its final gross. Just how hard, only time will tell.

Thor had an advantage in being released first, before the major Summer competition began. Fast Five was released just after it though, and went on to become the year’s highest grossing movie so far, now having crossed the $500m mark. This may have knocked Thor’s momentum, and stunted its financial hopes. I wouldn’t like to guess which of the comic-book adaptations will win the Summer, as all are a bit of an unknown quantity.

Still, I have a kind of funny feeling that the intergalactic stylings of Green Lantern may just push it past the post. The trailers show a potentially winning combination of thrilling action, intriguing story and measured humour. Martin Campbell tends to be a pretty solid director, and as far as review aggregates go Green Lantern will probably come second to X-Men, but ahead of Marvel’s two offerings. Critical success does not equal financial success, but it really depends on what you measure success by. Ideally, I guess they should come hand in hand, but this is seldom the case. Whatever the result, it is certainly going to be an entertaining battle to behold. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at

www.twitter.com/baz_mann

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