When Christopher Reeve donned a blue lycra suit with red underpants on top, cape flapping in the wind behind him — the world of American cinema was changed forever.
Since Superman in 1978, the superhero movies have just kept on coming. The 1980s brought on a Superman frenzy, with Superman II, III and IV, and ended on the cusp of a Batman takeover with Batman in 1989. Three more Batman movies followed in the '90s, with three different actors playing the role of the Dark Knight.
Then, in the first decade of the new millenium, there were more epic battles between good and evil than ever before — with around 47 superhero movies hitting movie screens in America, according to a list of American superhero movies on Wikipedia.
However, the current decade looks set to beat that record. Just counting movies already made or currently in production, spanning through 2014, the total is already at 25 — and that's not even halfway through the 2010s.
The superhero addiction is far from over. Right now, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spiderman are playing at movie theaters in Walnut Creek. And the battle for next summer's big blockbuster will be fought in part by Superman with the release another reboot, Man of Steel.Decade Number of Superhero Movies 1920s 2 1930s 1 1940s 1 1950s 1 1960s 1 1970s 3 1980s 12 1990s 31 2000s 47 2010s 25 made or in production so far
So, what's with America's increasing obsession with superheroes? Well, it could be something to do with the fact that these movies tend to make big bucks. Batman Begins scooped almost $400 million at the box office back in 2005 and The Dark Knight busted the roof off the billion dollar mark in 2008 — only to be beaten in 2012 by The Avengers, which grossed just shy of $1.5 billion worldwide.
Or, could the superhero fascination be representative of a yearning for "escapism" in the social psyche? Some experts believe so. After all, there is safety, color and adventure in the imaginary, fantastical world of childhood — especially when compared to a gloomy reality defined by tough economic times.
Why do you think superhero movies are becoming increasingly popular? Who's your favorite superhero or archvillain? Share your thoughts in the comments below.