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Entertainment/Character

$100 Million Superhero Brands Grow 15% in 2016

Karina Masolova, karina@plainlanguagemedia.com

While the average $100 million entertainment/character brand grew 8% in U.S./Canada retail sales of licensed merchandise in 2016, superhero brands grew by nearly 15% from the previous year. See the complete list here.

The top four superhero brands by retail sales in the U.S./Canada made up almost 11% of the $100 million list’s total retail sales globally. In the U.S./Canada alone, these four brands added almost $250 million in value to the list compared to 2015. Note that we restated our figures last year.

In the U.S./Canada, Batman led retail sales of licensed merchandise. Marvel Avengers climbed to the No. 2 spot, overtaking Spider-Man.

  1. Batman (Warner Bros.)
  2. Marvel Avengers (Disney)
  3. Spider-Man (Disney)
  4. Superman (Warner Bros.)

Keep in mind that the split between these top properties is quite narrow—Warner’s superhero properties accounted for 52.4% of $100 million superhero sales, while DC Comics nabbed a 47.6% share.


On a global scale, Spiderman leads the pack—it’s the most popular property outside of the U.S./Canada, with only 30% of its sales based in the territory. The ranking remains unchanged from 2015.

  1. Spider-Man (Disney)
  2. Marvel Avengers (Disney)
  3. Batman (Warner Bros.)
  4. Superman (Warner Bros.)

According to Warner Bros., consumers spent $4.5 billion on DC Comics merchandise in 2016—that includes Batman and Superman (around 40% of the total) as well as properties like Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, The Joker, Flash, Arrow, and Supergirl.

Wonder Woman is expected to reign in 2017 thanks to her breakout solo film and the Justice League film. (Was it just poor timing? The film had the worst opening weekend of a DC Universe film in the last 5 years, at $280 million globally.)

Both Marvel and DC are keeping their respective superhero universes alive with a steady stream of comic books, collectible figures and other merchandise, films, and—of course—streaming TV series. Both Warner and Disney have announced plans for their comic empires to have their own streaming channels by 2019, and the studios are actively developing new content.

One thing is clear. Superheroes will never die.

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