During the opening routine of the 2015 Academy Awards, host Neil Patrick Harris performed a whimsical song about the importance, emotional appeal and inspiring power of Hollywood lms. Part way through the number, comedian Jack Black, who was sitting in the audience, interrupted with a more critical verse. Black sang: “This industry’s in ux, it’s run by muckymucks, pitching tents for tentpoles and chasing Chinese bucks. Opening with lots of zeroes, all we get is superheroes. Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Jedi man, sequel man, prequel man. Formulaic scripts.” After a brief exchange, Harris resumed his optimistic song and Jack Black returned to the audience in mock disgust. But the intrusion of an alternative perspective voiced by Black humorously exposed some of the tensions that circulate around superhero movies. While the Academy Awards are designed to praise the best of the lm industry there is no denying that Hollywood in the twenty-rst century is dominated by superhero franchises. In fact, while the 2015 Awards celebrated the industry’s artistic achievements in 2014, the more important results of box-ofce success proved that Black was right. Six of the top 12 earners in 2014 were superhero movies (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Big Hero 6, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) … seven if you count The Lego Movie that included a satirical version of Batman as a central character. The commercial dominance of superhero movies is indicative of the genre’s overwhelming popularity with moviegoers around the world. It also exposes the nancial and corporate appeal of these characters for studios. Superheroes are the current bedrock of economic stability that helps sustain multi-billion dollar media empires. The overwhelming dominant genre of live action superhero lms (and, to a lesser extent, television) is a product of industry changes within Hollywood’s corporate structure since the late 1990s, and reveals a complex commercial arrangement designed to capitalize on global markets, digitization and transmedia properties.