Licensing

Batman vs. Superman: Who Makes More Money?

2 min read

While the film Batman v Superman, coming out on March 25, will show us which hero will win in a fight on the silver screen, we had a more pressing question: Which of these DC Comics superheroes earns more money in licensing fees and merchandise?

The winner is clear. Batman beats the Man of Steel (sorry, Superman) in licensing fees for global retail sales in merchandise at $494 million vs. the son of Krypton's $277 million, according to The Licensing Letter.

Don’t be too bummed, Superman loyalists. In the race for global retail sales, it’s Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man who crushes all others with a swinging $1.3 billion in annual licensing fees. In case you're wondering, Marvel’s The Avengers franchise earns $325 million.

Here are some other fun DC factoids:

  • Superman is a year older than Batman. The character debuted in 1938 for DC Comics and was an instant hit, so the creation of more superheros followed, including Batman in 1939.

  • Writer Jerry Siegel and illustrator Joe Shuster created Superman while the two were still in high school and sold the rights to DC Comics in 1938 for $130 (or today’s equivalent of $2,200).

  • DC illustrator Bob Kane is credited with creating Batman for DC Comics in 1939. Kane signed away ownership of the character in exchange for a mandatory byline on all Batman comics.  

  • There has been ongoing controversy over the contribution of writer Bill Finger to the co-creation of Batman. Finger claimed to have come up with the Joker. DC Comics maintains that Kane is the sole creator of the Dark Knight. Finger received cover credit for the first time on a special anniversary edition of a Batman comic in 2014.

  • The first issue of the original run of the Superman comic book series was auctioned on eBay for $3,207,852 in 2014.

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