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They said it couldn’t be done: Superheroes dominating the box office

Actors Adam West, left, and Burt Ward dresses as their characters (Zappp!) "Batman" and (Powww!) "Robin," pause during an appearance January 27, 1989 at the "World of Wheels" custom car show, Sunday in Chicago. The two, who are enjoying a revival of interest in the old "Batman" TV show, are featured in several upcoming movies.
AP Photo/Mark Elias
This…wasn’t enough.
  • Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Almost forty years ago, Hollywood told 27-year-old Michael Uslan he’d never make a successful film based on the washed-up character of Batman, much less other denizens of the funny pages.

This year, six big-budget superhero movies will be released, including Batman vs. Superman, the most recent picture produced by Uslan. This week on Actuality: How did comics go from joke to billion-dollar industry?

You can listen to Actuality and subscribe on iTunes, or use this RSS feed to subscribe with your favorite podcast app.

This week’s episode explains the rise of superhero movies and is based on Marketplace producer Tommy Andres’ interviews with Uslan, the producer behind the Batman movies. We also spoke to Heidi MacDonald, a former comics editor at Disney and D.C. and now the editor of Comics Beat, about the evolving world of superhero franchises.

After you listen to this episode, give us some clues for what you want to see in future episodes. Who else is doing the impossible? Tell us on twitter, or e-mail us.

Actuality is a joint production of Quartz and Marketplace. Every two weeks, we’ll explore the inner workings of the new global economy, combining the best of our economic smarts.

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