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Will Batman vs. Superman Succeed? A Box-Office History of Movies with 'vs.' in the Title

By Dustin Rowles | Box Office Round-Ups | July 23, 2013 | Comments ()


David S. Goyer, the co-screenwriter behind Man of Steel and the forthcoming sequel, apparently revealed the title to the sequel during a Comic Con panel over the weekend (via Comic Book.com) . “The next film we’re making, we’re already in pre-production, comes out in summer of 2015 and it’s — we’re actually not sure whether the title is Superman vs. Batman or Batman vs. Superman,” says screenwriter David S. Goyer.

When you put the “vs.” in there, you get that sense that it is not necessarily a movie in which the two superheroes team up to battle evil, but rather, a movie in which they fight each other. The “vs.” in a movie title has always had a negative connotation for me. When I think of “vs.” I think of bad sci-fi movies or straight-to-DVD mash-up flicks, like Cockneys vs. Zombies, Strippers vs. Werewolves, Jack and Jill vs. the World (a Freddie Prinze movie), Midgets vs. Mascots, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, or any number of the Godzilla vs. movies (vs. Destroyah, vs. Space Godzilla, vs. King Ghidorah, vs. Biollante.

It’s just not an abbreviation that carries with it a lot of positive associations when it comes to movie titles. I’m not saying that Batman vs. Superman won’t be successful: Everyone is going to line up to see it, and whether it’s good or not, it may challenge The Avengers for highest-grossing superhero movie.

Still, vs? The checkered box-office history of feature film titles with “vs.” in their names does not exactly inspire confidence.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World — $31 million

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil — $223,000

Freddy vs. Jason — $82 million

Monsters vs. Aliens — $182 million

Alien vs. Predator — $80 million

Alien vs. Predator — Requiem — $40 million

Kramer vs. Kramer — $106 million

The People vs. Larry Flynt — $20 million

Eagle vs Shark — $221,000

Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever — $14 million


There are a few bombs among the titles, a few laughable movies that nevertheless succeeded because of guilty pleasure interest, and then of course, the two movies that revolves around a lawsuit, which is where the “vs.” title is most appropriate. It is not, however, so appropriate in a Christopher Nolan universe in which the superheros are grounded in reality. Batman vs. Superman may be a huge box-office hit, but it will always sound like a straight to DVD title.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Craig Graham

    I don't share the same confidence that this will challenge the Avengers. It seems like they are scraping the barrel a bit with this movie.

  • Maguita NYC

    You know the title still shows "Batmas"... Or did I miss the intentional purpose (giving you a way out here, grab it!)

  • foolsage

    What is "Batmas"? Is that a holiday on February 19th, celebrating the birth of Bruce Wayne?

    [The title bar has a typo]

  • Helo

    Has it been confirmed that this is the official title? Granted, calling it "Man of Steel 2" wouldn't be the smartest thing in the world... People outside the realm of comic knowledge probably wouldn't know that a film called "World's Finest" has anything to do with Batman and/or Superman...

    Doubt that "The Dark Knight" moniker makes it into the title as well, if they're trying to re-establish the character as separate from Nolan's take.


    Vs. it is.

  • John W

    How did Joe versus the Volcano do?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    terribly, but it's still an awesome (underrated) movie.

  • emmalita

    That's my favorite of the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movies.

  • foolsage

    "You mean you were diagnosed with something called a brain cloud and didn't ask for a second opinion?"

  • emmalita

    Best line of the movie.

  • foolsage

    For me, it's tied with Mr. Waturi's long phone call.

    "But can he do the job. I know he can get the job but can he DO the job? I'm NOT arguing that with you. I'm not arguing that with YOU. I'm not ARGUING that with you. I'm not ARGUING that with you Harry! Harry... Harry... Yeah Harry... but can he DO the job. I know he can GET the job but can he do the job?"

  • emmalita

    I like that one too, but I love the disgusted incredulity on Meg Ryan's face as she says her line.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    some small theatre in CA did a musical version of it a few years ago. Seems like that would be a good fit.

  • NateMan

    I haven't seen it in years, but it was so sweet. But then, Tom Hanks usually is. Seems like a great guy.

  • Cazadora

    I find this idea interesting in a strategic way...rather than promising a Justice League movie, it seems that they may be trying to build the team a little bit over time by adding members through multiple movies? This would help to differentiate the Warner strategy from Marvel/Disney.

    Admittedly, this is pure conjecture on my part, but if I'm right it would be a cool way to handle it.

  • JenVegas

    Megashark vs. Giant Octopus was pretty good though.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    What you all don't realize (along with 99% of comic book readers) because you don't pay close enough attention to details is that Superman has more than one weakness. Kryptonite is the most well known since it's the easiest mcguffin to write into a script, but there are others.

    Batman vs. Supes works because Superman's second fatal weakness is something that was invented by the Bat. A device so nefarious that it has been banned for use inside Gotham city limits. The Batusi.

    To avoid getting into trouble with Gotham authorities, Adam West travels to Metropolis to battle Superman because Bats has become infatuated with Lois Lane and therefore must have her. The usual superhero movie tropes occur, but the final epic battle culminates in Mr. West shimmying a digitized Chrisopher Reeve into submission. Just when you think Supes is down and out, a surprisingly svelt Burt Ward shows up to defeat Batman with the only item that can defeat the Dark Knight. A lawyer and a full squadron of police officers armed with an arrest warrant from all those years dick served as Bruce's "ward".

    You can send my royalty checks to my igloo, Warner Brothers.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    Batman is also really good at magic.

  • foolsage

    Bats has used ritual magic on a number of occasions, true. He's an amateur in that field but could in theory come up with something to mess with Supes.

    Supes is of course highly vulnerable to magic.

  • Colombo

    I'm pretty sure Batman was kicked out of the magicians alliance

  • foolsage

    "It's an illusion, Clark. A trick is something a whore does for money."

  • Bert_McGurt

    "It ain't easy being white, it ain't easy being a nocturnal vigilante,
    They call me Gotham's Dark Knight, my parents are DEEAAAAD!!!"

  • JJ

    Oof. The Ecks vs. Sever comparison is a shot right in the ballistics.

  • Helo

    if I ever get the pried open eyeball treatment a la Clockwork Orange, my captors couldn't screw me over any deeper than showing Ecks vs. Sever.

  • afferbeck

    If it turns out to be anywhere near as good as Tucker and Dale or Scott Pilgrim then I will see it.

  • foolsage

    Both of those films were good fun.

  • NateMan

    Scott Pilgrim was good for a single viewing for me; I enjoyed it, but it relied too much on its quirkiness for repeated viewing. Tucker and Dale, however, was frigging comedy gold as far as I'm concerned.

  • Sam Underwood

    I've seen Scott Pilgrim over 25 times if you include the multiple times I've watched the 4 different commentaries, I love that film to death lol. Tucker and Dale I've only seen once (recently) but will certainly again

  • I'm the other way around. I liked Tucker and Dale but I loved Scott Pilgrim.

  • Sam Underwood

    Right? Love those films.

  • X vs. Men

  • foolsage

    My money is on X.

  • Ok, comic book fans, I am going to ask a stupid question, but please indulge me.

    Why would it be "Batman vs. Superman"? Aren't they both good guys? Like, is Batman jealous of Superman's natural abilities, or is Clark Kent like "I am essentially a god and I am slaving away for a shit salary at the Planet and this asshole gets to play around with his daddy's money all day?" I don't understand!

  • Bert_McGurt

    Well, when this happened (FREQUENTLY) back in the Silver Age, it was usually because someone's super-naivete resulted in him being mind-controlled, blackmailed, depowered, or exposed to red Kryptonite/magic. Sometimes it also ended up being one of Jimmy's dreams.

    Oh! I think it sometimes also happened in Kandor (the capital of Krypton that Brainiac shrunk and put in a bottle that Superman ended up with and keeps at the Fortress of Solitude), because when Superman shrinks himself to go there he loses his powers. OBVIOUSLY.

  • foolsage

    When Supes would shrink himself to visit Kandor, he'd take Jimmy Olsen with him. They teamed up to be non-powered costumed vigilantes there, inspired by Batman and Robin. Amusingly, they called themselves Nightwing and Flamebird. Comics geeks will recognize the former name, because, bringing things full circle, when Dick Grayson (i.e. the first Robin) stopped using the name Robin, he named himself Nightwing.

  • Bert_McGurt

    And of course when Supes and Jimmy aren't there, his cousin Van-Zee and a guy named Ak-Var take over the identities. Which makes me think of the ridiculous Kryptonian naming system.

    Silver Age, you so crazy.

  • NateMan

    Superheroes always fight each other when they first meet. Always. And then they team up against a different threat. It's like a rule of superherodom.

  • Wouldn't that make every DC superhero apart from Superman more... dead?

  • Sam Underwood

    Batman in the inspirational material for this film completely owns Superman. When they announced this they read a quote from Dark Knight Returns in which and aged Bruce Wayne takes on Supes and rocks his world. Now they said it was just inspirational material, but please. Several times Batman takes out superpowered foes who are also heroes. In the comic Tower of Babylon, we find out he has a database on every single weakness of every member for the JLA. Batman is a master tactician. Yes Superman is god-like in power but just trust me when I say, the two fighting each other would be epic.

  • BlackRabbit

    Piffle. Superman's a warmup act. Get Martian Manhunter on a rampage then we'll talk trouble.

  • NateMan

    Yeah, but in theory this is before Batman and Superman have ever really met. They know next to nothing about each other. In the movie universe I can't imagine Superman settling down and letting WayneCorp or the military sketch out his weaknesses - which he doesn't have any of, assuming kryptonite hasn't been discovered yet. I absolutely agree there's been some great stand-offs in the comics between the two, but I don't see it working like that here.

    Admittedly, I loved Man of Steel way more than I thought I would, sort of putting me in the minority of Pajiba readers, so I could be entirely wrong.

  • NateMan

    You'd think so, but it turns out Superman is in reality a truly awful fighter. Apparently the ability to turn yourself into an indestructible missile travelling at something close to the speed of light doesn't mean what it used to.

  • Back in my day we used to have to turn ourselves into indestructible missiles travelling at something close to the speed of light just to get to school. And that was in the snow.

  • Repo

    It wasn't uphill both ways too? You're slipping.

  • freetickles

    Guys in my high school used to turn themselves into indestructible masses travelling at something close to the speed of light all the time, it was no big deal.

  • NateMan

    I remember those days. When my shitty Blazer would suddenly stop having 4 wheel drive in the middle of a snowstorm. I kinda miss it. On the other hand, having my testicles lodged in my throat as I skidded around every ridiculous turn probably wasn't the healthiest thing for me.

  • You're lucky that was in your youth at least. Testicleinthroatalitis is like chicken pox - get it later on in life and you're fucked.

  • BWeaves

    Sharknado vs. Squirrelcano

    That is all.

  • NateMan

    Unless the squirrels are on fire, I don't really see them having a shot.

  • They're huge squirrels. Like, really fucking big. Double-shark-sized in fact.

  • emmalita

    Get the Axe Cop kid on it. It will work and make no sense.

  • NateMan

    Oh, well that's different then.

  • freetickles

    I'm not a comic book guy, but I don't see how it's even a match-up between Superman and Batman. Even if we were to buy that they hated each other, how the hell does Batman, a tough guy in a bullet-proof suit with some toys and marshal arts skills, compete with Superman who's, you know, basically invincible?

  • foolsage

    Batman, in the comics, is FAR more dangerous than he ever comes across in live-action film or TV. To get a sense how extreme his paranoid planning is, check out "Justice League: Doom" on Netflix (available streaming). It's a movie version of a storyline in the JLA comics called "Tower of Babel". The movie has quite a few changes but the basic idea remains the same: the Justice League is taken down, hard, by someone using Batman's plans. Bats has contingency plans in place to neutralize everyone, all the time.

  • Mrcreosote

    Batman is always prepared and utterly ruthless. Need to spend millions to synthesize Kryptonite? Done. Need to build a suit that augments your strength to go toe to toe with Supes? Done. Use an elaborate ruse to make Supes think you're dead? Done. Keep a secret dossier on each of your fellow members of a super group to know how to take each one down? done.

  • foolsage


    Need to synthesize some new forms of red kryptonite to depower Supes without killing him? Done.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Batman keeps a Kryptonite ring in a special pouch on his utility belt. For exactly this reason.

  • Magicman81

    Kryptonite is only as powerful as the writer needs it to be. When Batman, under mind control, fought superman with it he got about three punches in before breaking all then bones in his hand. Superman knows how to deal with Kryptonite. Two of his villans, Metallo and Kryptonite Man (yes he's real), have yet to kill Superman and Kryptonite is their main asset

  • Bert_McGurt

    "Kryptonite is only as powerful as the writer needs it to be."

    So is Superman.

  • BlackRabbit

    So is Batman. Sometimes he has issues with a guy named the Penguin. Sometimes he's an Urban Legend (which is kinda ridiculous, given how well-known he seems to be, but never mind.)

  • Sam Underwood

    Batman is a master tactician, he knows how to beat Superman and in Dark Knight Returns (Frank Miller comic from the late 80's) he completely destroys Supes in a fight. However, saying this. This movie wont be just a VS movie and anyone who thinks so is being idiotic. They will fight at one point (think of Iron Man and Thor when they meet in Avengers) but then will team together to take down a threat above both of them.

  • magicguy81

    Anytime Batman has fought Superman, Batman's whole plan hinges on Superman holding back. If he doesn't Batman's dead. Also Superman is smarter than Batman. Even if you say he's not Superman regularly beats Brainiac and Lex Luthour who are both smarter than Batman. Oh, and Batman has admitted that in an all out fight Superman would win

  • foolsage

    Nnnnope. Bats has flat out fought Supes quite a few times, when Supes was not holding back at all for various reasons (e.g. possession, mind control). Bats wins pretty much every time, though sometimes he's forced to flee.

    Superman isn't smarter than Batman; technically they're in the same intelligence class according to the old DC Heroes roleplaying game (as is Luthor). However, Bats is considerably more educated than Supes.

  • BWeaves

    Maybe they don't fight each other. Maybe it's more like a contest, like Iron Chef for Superheroes?

  • emmalita

    Only if they are fighting for Chairman Kaga's approval and yogurt is the weapon.

  • NateMan

    Man yogurt, or the regular kind? I'm just wondering if we're going full-on gay for the this fantasy.

  • BWeaves

    OMG, I just got what you meant by man yogurt. Can I say, "EWWWWWWWWW?"

  • NateMan

    Would you prefer man tapioca?

  • Maguita NYC

    There are doctors for that.

  • NateMan

    Are there? My semen has always functioned the way it's supposed to so I've never looked into it.

  • Uriah_Creep

    TMI, man. TMI.

  • emmalita

    A case could be made for either. Initially I was tracking with my favorite Iron Chef episode of all time - The Yogurt Battle. But 'man yogurt' has lots of possibilities as well. Why not honor the post-DOMA America and go full on gay?

    Yogurt Battle if you've never experienced the joy of the original Iron Chef.


  • NateMan

    I used to get utterly hammered with my best friend in college, and we'd watch this at 2am after the bars closed. I hadn't seen this episode, thanks!

  • emmalita

    It's perfect to watch while doped up on pain meds.

  • NateMan

    I might as well. I actually need to go install a new computer now. That's gonna go well.

  • emmalita

    :) Good luck.

  • Maguita NYC

    I'm a slave to those shows. I now love my wifey even more! Looking forward to quiet nights together in front of the teevee (borrowing from LaineyBobainey) moaning at Morimoto's skills.

  • NateMan

    I have to agree. It's a terrible title. Also, it should be Batman vs. Superman rather than the other way around to capture the David vs. Goliath feel.

  • Mrcreosote

    Nope. In that fight the Boy Scout is the underdog.

  • foolsage

    So few people really understand this.

    Batman is far more dangerous than Superman.

  • Sam Underwood

    "Worlds Finest: Batman vs. Superman" that is the title they should settle on. That or "Of Gods and Men: Batman vs. Superman"

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    And of course when Supes and Jimmy aren't there, his cousin Van-Zee
    and a guy named Ak-Var take over the identities. Which makes me think
    of the ridiculous Kryptonian naming system.

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