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Comic Book Movie Report Card

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Comic book movies have been going strong now for a decade. So how are our favorites doing these days?By Don Kaye Special to MSN MoviesIt's been just over a decade since "X-Men" came out and was a $150 million hit for 20th Century Fox. Before that, films like the "Superman" movies of the late '70s and the first series of "Batman" flicks were isolated hits, while studios occasionally tried and failed to get properties like "Spider-Man" off the ground. Once "X-Men" threw open the doors -- with a solid, respectable cast, a noted director (Bryan Singer) and a serious, more "realistic" take on Marvel's mutant superheroes -- a continuous stream of movies based on comic books has followed. Many have been colossal successes, like "The Dark Knight" (more than $500 million in U.S. box office alone), the three "Spider-Man" movies (over $1 billion combined) and "Iron Man" ($600 million and counting for two movies). More surprisingly, acclaim from both fans and critics has greeted a number of the films, with "The Dark Knight" winning a handful of Oscars and even was mooted at one point as a possible Best Picture contender (which it should have been). Of course, all this success (and cash) has led to a virtual mini-industry in comic movies within the Hollywood system. In addition to the inevitable sequels for franchises like "X-Men" and "Batman," standalone titles like "Kick-Ass," "Watchmen" and the new "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" have been turned into films -- with wildly varying responses at the box office. Meanwhile, some of the seemingly infallible brands, like the aforementioned "X-Men" and "Spider-Man," have suffered from a noticeable decline in quality three or four movies into the cycle. Still, the comic book movie shows no signs of going away. Following the tepid response to "Kick-Ass" earlier this year, it doesn't seem like nerd power alone is going to send the newly opened "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" to the next boxoffice level either. But tentpole titles like "X-Men: First Class," a rebooted "Spider-Man," "Green Lantern," "Thor," "Captain America" and the twin behemoths "The Avengers" and "Batman 3" are all on the way within the next two years. With all that ahead, here's a report card on all the big comic book franchises -- complete with grades. (Warner Bros./Paramount)
© Warner Bros./Paramount
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