For the past decade, Marvel Studios has managed to release the highest-grossing superhero movie of the year every year. From 2010-2019, which saw the Marvel Cinematic Universe rise to bigger and bigger heights, the studio continually boasted the film in the genre that had the largest draw worldwide. In the unique year that is 2020, though, it’s proved impossible for Marvel to keep up this record as they’ve been unable to deliver either of their planned movies to cinemas during this 12-month period. Instead, an unexpected competitor has risen up to claim the top spot.
And nope, it’s not DC. February’s Birds of Prey grossed $201.8 million globally, which isn’t bad for 2020, but that still doesn’t get it the gold. And obviously it’s not The New Mutants, the final X-Men film released through Disney’s 20th Century Studios, as that infamously flopped with a mere $43.7 million haul. Rather, the highest-grossing superhero movie of the year is none other than Sonic the Hedgehog.
Paramount’s decision to release the video game adaptation in February proved to be a stroke of genius as it just missed the COVID-19 outbreak, meaning it’s gone down as one of the biggest hits of 2020 with $308 million to its name. Now, many may feel that Sonic doesn’t count as a superhero flick, but you have to admit that it follows the tropes of the genre pretty closely, including featuring a superpowered protagonist who must foil a supervillain’s quest for world domination. If you still aren’t buying it, though, Sonic has even his own page on Superhero Wiki. So there, it’s an indisputable fact.
Furthermore, as ComicBook.com explains:
“Merriam-Webster’s definition of what a being a superhero entails [is as follows]: a superhero is a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers. Now if you’ve seen Sonic the Hedgehog, you’ll know that one, he’s a superhero, and two, he has extraordinary or superhuman powers. Going by the very definition in the dictionary, that means that Sonic the Hedgehog is, in fact, the highest-grossing superhero film of the year and will unseat Marvel Studios’ decade-long run atop the category.”
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Given its success, it’s no surprise that Paramount quickly greenlit a sequel, with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 confirmed to be on its way this summer. James Marsden and Jim Carrey are believed to be back as Sheriff Tom Wachowski and Dr. Robotnik, while Ben Schwartz will likely return as the voice of Sonic. Sidekick Tails is practically a cert, too, given his post-credits cameo in the first one.
So, sorry Marvel and DC, the most popular superhero of 2020 is Sonic. Better luck in 2021, Big Two.