Measuring the Value of Marvel Characters
Measuring The Value Of Franchise Film Characters
- Tony Stark/Iron Man wins—by a lot. Stark’s tenure in the MCU gives him an advantage: He appears in nine films and logs significant screen time in most. There’s about a 12 percent chance you’ll see Iron Man on the screen at any given moment while watching a Marvel movie.
- Gamora has the highest value of all women. The only female in the top 10, Gamora jumped from 12th to 9th place after Avengers: Infinity War. She had the second-highest screen time in the film, behind Thanos (who moved up 10 spots to 16th after Infinity War).
- Pepper Potts proves that consistency counts. Largely used as a love interest, Potts is tied to more Marvel dollars than Nick Fury, original Avenger Clint Barton/Hawkeye, and Ant-Man, who has two title films of his own.
- King T’Challa/Black Panther broke into the top 5 after only three movies. Bruce Banner/Hulk is only about $120,000 ahead despite appearing in twice as many films.
- Black Panther’s Erik “Killmonger” Stevens and Nakia have maximum impact and minimum screen time. These two characters are the only ones in the top 25 with only one movie appearance (20th and 24th, respectively).
How Can Character Value Change Over Time?
- Tony Stark never loses his lead. Stark opens the MCU as the highest-valued character, and that never changes. He averages about $107 million per film, followed by T’Challa’s $98 million average per movie.
- Nick Fury’s value grows more than any other character. Fury’s value is almost 220 times higher now than when he first appeared in Iron Man. For comparison, Thor’s value is almost 6 times higher from start to end, while Doctor Strange experiences the least change—37 percent growth over his three appearances.
- T’Challa dethrones Tony Stark with the highest-valued single performance. Until Black Panther, Stark’s time in Iron Man remained the most lucrative role in any MCU film. The only performance that came close was Stark in Iron Man 3. T’Challa in Black Panther was worth about $50 million more.
- Steve Rogers/Captain America, T’Challa, and Peter Parker/Spider-Man are some of the fastest-earning characters. Each only needed two film appearances to break $200 million, with T’Challa earning the most ($280 million). Measuring success after three movies, Stark returns as the leader with more than $351 million in his first three appearances thanks to early solo films.
How Do Character Groups Compare?
- Just three women are among the top 20 highest-valued characters. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Pepper Potts, and Gamora are the 6th, 9th, and 12th highest-valued characters, respectively.
- Title roles are new for women in the MCU. Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp made history, with Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp becoming the first woman to be featured by name in a title. Hitting theaters in 2019, Captain Marvel will be the first solo title film for a woman.
- Women of color don’t appear on the list for the first nine films. Gamora’s introduction in Guardians of the Galaxy marks the first appearance of a woman of color on a list of more than 200 characters. That’s changing, though: Valkyrie (Thor: Ragnarok) and Nakia, Shuri, and Okoye (Black Panther) were all given substantial screen time in some of Marvel’s most successful movies.
- The value gap between women and men in Marvel is slowly shrinking. The total character value for women in Marvel was a mere 21 percent of their male counterparts’ after Iron Man. Since Ant-Man and the Wasp, that number now sits at slightly higher than 28 percent.
- Upcoming MCU movies could help close that gap even more. As the first origin film about a woman, Captain Marvel is already set to show women on screen than any other Marvel film in the past, as would a rumored Black Widow project. And with a Black Panther sequel in motion, audiences can expect the women of Wakanda to get even more screen time.
Character Leverage In Marketing
- Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Loki lost the most time in The Avengers. Despite being on screen for about 17 percent of the movie (more than anyone but Stark and Rogers), Romanoff only appears in 7 percent of the trailer material. Loki has an even bigger discrepancy, occupying 2 percent of the trailers compared to 15 percent of the film.
- Marvel used T’Challa disproportionately in marketing Avengers: Infinity War. Fans might have been surprised to see Black Panther on screen for just 2 percent of Avengers: Infinity War, considering he was in the trailers four times as often.
- The Guardians are saved for last. Bringing all these universes together is perhaps Marvel’s most marketable asset, and the Guardians are the last piece. Using them as a “reveal” is its own marketing tool. The first Avengers: Infinity War trailer keeps the entire Guardians of the Galaxy cast off screen until after the final title sequence.
- The Avengers: Endgame trailer content isn’t surprising. The first 55 seconds consists of a Tony Stark monologue, and that makes sense given his value compared to all other remaining characters. The ending of Infinity War places Marvel back where it started: a much smaller cast of characters, with Iron Man leading the way.