With the eagerly awaited release of Spider-Man: No Way Home finally upon us, and the rave reviews pouring in, it poses the question: could Spider-Man be the world’s favorite superhero of all time? Or could one of his fellow Marvel Avengers, or DC Comics counterparts, steal the crown?

Well, a recent study by Currys aimed to settle who the public’s most-loved superheroes are, once and for all. The research looked at online search volumes for characters, as well as the number of times their names are hashtagged on Instagram, alongside average IMDb ratings for films they feature in, and even how much they could earn if they were modern-day social media influencers. Let’s find out who topped the lists, shall we?

The most-searched-for characters

So, who do you reckon the public is looking up the most online? Could it be our world-famous man-turned-spider(man) or has someone else pipped him to the post?

It turns out, it’s actually none other than the notorious Joker who comes in the first place. Perhaps people prefer an anti-hero to a do-gooder! Joker attracts an average of 10.2 million searches around the world – in just a month. Now that’s a serious fan base – but why so serious? As Batman’s arch-nemesis, Joker has featured in numerous Batman movies, as well as appearances in Suicide Squad and even his own dedicated backstory. While he nails the ‘bad guy’ role, there’s something about him that people empathize with at the same time – a complex character deserving of attention.

After Joker, Spider-Man swings into second place, attracting a significant 7.2 million searches a month. And in third place is Black Panther, with 4.4 million monthly global searches.

The most hashtagged characters

There are millions (if not billions) of posts dedicated to superheroes and villains on Instagram, so which characters have the most posts hashtagged with their names?

Again, Spider-Man clings on in second place, but this time he’s beaten by Batman himself. Batman has received a huge 28.2 million Instagram posts about him to date, while Spider-Man has received 20.5 million. Both characters are some of the most recognized superheroes in the world, yet they come from rival worlds – DC and Marvel Comics. Hold tight, we’ll look into this rivalry a bit more later.

In third place for most hashtagged posts is the Avengers’ frontman, Iron Man, with 16.6 million posts. As one of the few superheroes without any superhuman powers, Iron Man is a pretty legendary icon of the comic book world.

The highest-rated characters

While IMDb ratings are issued for movies as a whole, rather thfan individual performances, it can still build a rough idea about which characters are big hits with their audiences.

Ranking in first place for the highest average IMDb score is Black Panther, with an average score of 8.1. As a relative newcomer to the movie scene, Black Panther has proven to be iconic, largely because he is the first black superhero to star in a blockbuster comic book movie. While there has only been one Black Panther movie, the character did star in Captain America: Civil War and two Avengers movies. Sadly, due to Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing, the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever film will not feature Black Panther himself, but will rather continue to explore Wakanda and all the other characters introduced in the first film.

Trailing Black Panther in the rankings for IMDb ratings is (almost) the entire Avengers squad. Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Deadpool (not an Avenger, but a Marvel character, nonetheless) all come in joint second place with an average IMDb score of 7.6.

The potential money makers

While superheroes and villains don’t have their own social media accounts, their search volumes could be suggestive of what kind of followings each character would have if they did. After all, people are going out of their way to search for them, so it’s likely they’d hit ‘follow’ if given half the chance.

As part of the study, superheroes and villains were re-imagined as social media influencers. A potential earning per Instagram post was calculated based on a standard rate of $100 per 10,000 followers (with follower count translated from their search volume). As the Joker is searched for the most, it was calculated that he could be raking in as much as $102k per post, while Iron Man could take home $72k and Black Panther could earn $44k.

Marvel Vs. DC

So, what does this all mean for the ever-ongoing Marvel vs. DC Comics debate? At this point, we know that Marvel dominated the IMDb rating list, but search volume and hashtag winners were quite split. To build a better picture, the original study drew conclusions based on the top 10 characters for each metric.

For search volume, there are even five Marvel characters and five DC Comic characters in the top 10 most-searched-for list. And for hashtagged posts, they’re neck and neck again, with five of each in the top 10. Guess this leaves the competition wide open!

As for the public’s favorite superhero or supervillain? Like with the Marvel vs. DC Comics rivalry, there isn’t really a clear front-runner. While Spider-Man ranks consistently in second place across all metrics, he didn’t secure a top spot ranking. And while Joker, Batman, and Black Panther came in first place respectfully for search volume, hashtagged posts, and average IMDb score, they slid lower down the list for the other metrics.

But wouldn’t it spoil the fun if there was a clear winner? The superhero universe is all about a bit of healthy competition and backing who you love. So, who would you put in the first place?

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