With a lot of superhero movies, TV series, comics, and video games that came out last year, fans of the genre are probably wondering who was the most popular superhero in 2021. While there’s no absolute way to determine this, British electrical retailer Currys conducted a research that looked at online search volumes and Instagram posts to reveal the world’s most famous superheroes and villains to date.
With a global monthly search volume of 10.2 million, Joker tops the ranking of the most searched-for superheroes and villains in the world. The iconic DC villain is followed by Marvel’s Spider-Man (7.2 million), Black Panther (4.4 million), Wonder Woman (3.8 million), and Iron Man (3.4 million).
Batman, meanwhile, is the king of Instagram. The Dark Knight secures the top spot in the ranking for the greatest number of social media posts hashtagged with his name (28.2 million). He is followed by Marvel superheroes Spider-Man (20.5 million) and Iron Man (13.7 million), and then by his fellow DC characters Joker (13.7 million) and Superman (13.3 million).
If search volumes equated to Instagram followers, the Joker could be raking in a whopping $102,000 per sponsored post. The next top earner would be Spider-Man ($72,000), followed by Black Panther ($44,000), Wonder Woman ($38,000), and Iron Man ($34,000).
Unfortunately, Currys’ research doesn’t really settle the long-running rivalry between Marvel and DC, as both media properties have five characters each in the top 10 most-searched-for superheroes and villains.
Currys identified the top movie superheroes and villains using Google searches. From this, Currys curated a list of approximately 100 characters, which was then narrowed down to 15 based on the highest search volumes, using SEMRush.
The Instagram hashtag counts in the research are based on the number of posts hashtagged with the characters’ names, while the potential Instagram earnings were calculated by using the search volume for each character as a hypothetical “follower count.” With these figures, Currys came up with an earning per post based on an unspoken industry-standard rate of $100 per 10,000 followers.
Lastly, the IMDB ratings seen in the chart were determined by averaging the IMDB rating of all TV shows and films each character has been featured in.
Aside from superheroes and villains, Currys also ranked the most popular video games, sitcom superstars, as well as Christmas and horror icons. You can check out Curry’s full research here.