However, the positive critical reception so far for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has strong implications for both studios, with it likely helping turn the tide back in Marvel's favor and it being directed by James Gunn, who will be heading DC's new slate with Peter Safran.
So, what superhero movies were audiences most interested in and shared the most excitement for?
Most Popular Superhero Movies (2023 Data)
TheWrap revealed a chart from Parrot Analytics mapping out the 10 "most in-demand superhero movies" in the United States between January 1 and April 23, 2023.
According to Parrot Analytics, "in-demand" refers to a conglomeration of excitement, engagement, and popularity. It is measured with sources such as "search engines, wikis ... fan and critic rating sites, ... blogs and micro-blogging sites, social media platforms ... open streaming platforms," among others.
Essentially, the data is comparing each superhero movie's hype, excitement, popularity and level of interaction, and comparing it to the average over a given time period.
Below are the findings...
10.) Shazam! Fury of the Gods
In 10th place for U.S. demand this year so far comes the box-office disappointment that was Shazam! Fury of the Gods, with a demand 29.27 times the average. It seems despite its relatively poor box-office performance, the film was highly anticipated, and liked by plenty.
The 2023 Shazam! sequel starring Zachary Levi focused on the family dynamics of the aptly named Shazam Family, telling a heartfelt story of teamwork and sacrifice. The first Shazam-centric film performed fairly well at the box office back in 2019, and it seems enough fans were vocal enough about their passion for the franchise that the underperforming sequel made the 2023 U.S. top 10.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is available for digital rent or purchase on platforms like Apple TV, and will be available to stream on Max when the service launches on May 23.
2019's Joker takes the ninth place spot on the list, coming in at a demand 31.44 times the average. The Oscar-winning film inspired by the iconic Batman villain was a huge hit after release, speaking to both comics fans and standard moviegoers alike.
Not only has Joker remained in the modern cultural zeitgeist because of the memes it inspired, but also likely due to its sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux, releasing in October 2024. Joaquin Phoenix (Joker) will be joined by Lady Gaga (Harley Quinn) in Joker 2, potentially expanding interest in the sequel to Lady Gaga fans who are now watching the original movie.
It seems that fans — old and new — may be getting started on their preparation for the Elseworlds sequel early, if not just watching the award-winning film for its own sake, landing Joker a spot in this top 10 list.
Joker is available to stream on HBO Max.
8.) Zack Snyder's Justice League
Zack Snyder's Justice League ranks eighth on the list of in-demand superhero movies in the United States so far this year, with demand 31.95 times the average. The film was dubbed the "Snyder Cut" by fans desperate to have the original Justice League (directed by Joss Whedon) re-released as envisioned by Zack Snyder, something that eventually did happen in March of 2021.
This four-hour-and-one-minute-long re-release is much beloved, with the SnyderVerse it takes place within being the subject of an April convention event. Beyond this popularity, the film has gotten a significant amount of extra affection and attention since the hiring of James Gunn and Peter Safran to reboot the DCU.
Die-hard SnyderVerse fans have continued to not only watch the Snyder Cut more than two years after its release, but to push for the story's (and the SnyderVerse's) continuation heavily on social media with "#SellSnyderVersetoNetflix."
Zack Snyder's Justice League is available to stream on HBO Max.
Deadpool continues to be a fan-favorite superhero film, as is evident with its seventh place ranking, with demand 33.1 times the average, seven years after releasing. Audiences fell in love with Ryan Reynolds' portrayal of the "merc with a mouth" in the movie, after being disappointed with the character in the infamous X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
After a beloved sequel, Marvel announced that 2024's Deadpool 3 will not only feature Reynolds as Deadpool, but will also reunite him with Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. The hype surrounding this reveal was massive, likely contributing to Deadpool's high demand in 2023.
Funny, self-referential, and unafraid to take risks, Deadpool continues to delight and, at times, disturb, and audiences continue to react positively to it.
Deadpool is available to stream on Disney+.
6.) Avengers: Endgame
The culmination of the MCU's Infinity Saga, Avengers: Endgame takes sixth place for demand this year so far, 33.15 times the average. Since its 2019 release, Endgame has been used as the bar MCU films are compared against — positive reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, for instance, noted how it compares to the fourth Avengers film.
Featuring almost every character in the MCU when it released, Endgame has almost become essential viewing for any hero's character arc — be it a conclusion, continuation or beginning of one.
Until the current Multiverse Saga gets its inevitable Endgame-like event, this cultural phenomenon will likely stay on people's minds, regardless of if they are Marvel fans, appreciate what the movie represents, or even hate it.
Avengers: Endgame is available to stream on Disney+.
5.) Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse comes in at fifth place, the halfway point of the top 10 list, with demand 35.31 times the average. The Oscar-winning Multiverse story about developing your identity in the face of legacy and expectations was a huge hit when it released in 2018, and its highly anticipated sequel — Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse — debuts this June.
Like other entries on the list, the hype for the sequel is likely a contributor to the movie's 2023 demand — especially given the delays that extended the wait for the already-anticipated movie.
Further, Spider-Verse can appeal to anyone, Spider-Man fan or superhero naysayer, thanks to its universally recognizable coming-of-age theme and compelling story.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is available to stream on Fubo.
4.) The Batman
The 2022 reboot of the World's Greatest Detective, The Batman, is ranked fourth, with demand 47.63 times the average. Starring Robert Pattinson, the film took a new approach to Bruce Wayne's character, forgoing the classic playboy for an isolated and seemingly depressed man learning to trust in others.
A sequel was officially confirmed in 2023, with both films being classified as Elseworlds stories in Gunn and Safran's rebooted DCU. This was unsurprising to fans, given the box-office and critical successes of The Batman, with all of these factors being likely contributors to the movie's continued demand.
Still fresh from its release just over a year ago, The Batman made waves in the superhero movie fan community, and will likely stay a favorite for a long time still.
The Batman is available to stream on HBO Max.
3.) Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania
Moving into the top three of the list, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is taking the third place spot, with demand 47.84 times the average. The third movie in the Ant-Man franchise disappointed at the box office and with critics following its February 2023 release.
Despite this, anticipation was high for the Paul-Rudd-led movie, with it also ranking third in an anticipation poll at the end of 2022. Despite the criticisms, the movie did set up much for the future of the MCU. However, some of that set up has come into question following Jonathan Majors' recent charges of alleged assault.
Regardless, the conversations surrounding this film and what it indicates for Marvel's future are likely why it ranks so high, despite its more negative reception.
Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania is available for digital purchase on platforms such as Apple TV, and will be available to stream on Disney+ on May 17.
2.) Spider-Man: No Way Home
Coming in second place is 2021's Spider-Man: No Way Home, with demand 50.58 times the average. The third film in the MCU's Spider-Man franchise was a massive hit financially, and more than satisfied fans with its continuations of not only Tom Holland's Spider-Man's story, but Tobey Maguire's and Andrew Garfield's as well.
Bringing in characters from several different franchises, including the aforementioned Spider-Man reboots, the MCU as a whole, the Venom movies and Daredevil, Spider-Man: No Way Home was filled-to-the-brim with scenes and references to watch over and over again.
Given all this, along with a compelling story, emotional performances, and funny script, it is no surprise that Spider-Man: No Way Home ranks so highly, even more than a year after releasing.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is available to stream on Starz and DIRECTV.
1.) Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
In first place as the most in-demand superhero movie in the United States in 2023 so far is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, with demand 66.68 times the average. With a successful release in late 2022 and an Oscar win for costume design, the Black Panther sequel has certainly been fresh on fans' minds.
The final film of the MCU's Phase 4, Wakanda Forever was both a hit with fans and a financial success, while also being the first addition to the MCU on Disney+ this year. Additionally, it was the follow-up to arguably one of Marvel's most successful films to date.
As such, it has definitely been a major player in the superhero movie community, contributing to the high demand reported.
Further, the film is an emotional tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who played T'challa in the MCU before passing away in 2020. With its recognition toward the beloved actor, this film will likely hold a special place in fans' hearts for years to come.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is available to stream on Disney+.
How Might This List Change By 2024?
This top 10 list only accounts for the demand recorded in the United States from January 1 to April 23, 2023. As such, this data may look very different in another six months.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has been a highly anticipated addition to the MCU, and with its generally positive reactions so far, could be a contender for the next list. Further, it could increase demand for the already-successful first Guardians of the Galaxy film.
Additionally, on DC's end, The Flash is hitting theaters in June, and will have major implications on the future of the franchise. Seemingly a soft — but not complete — reboot for DC, The Flash will undoubtedly get much attention after its release.
Regardless, there are plenty of superhero movies — both on this list and otherwise — to discuss and enjoy while fans wait.