In my opinion the biggest superhero characters have for some years been Superman followed by Batman and then spider-man. These for me were the top 3 based on public popularity and awareness and their influence on the superhero genre. Basically everyone knows of Spiderman, Batman and Superman. However, I strongly feel that Iron Man has muscled his way up to this top three now. Its amazing that what was a second league superhero who a lot of people knew nothing about has rocketed into the big league in just 5 years. Here's why I believe he is up there now...
1. A brilliant actor RDJ, who just totally fits the role of Tony Stark and has brought massive charisma to a superhero in a way that no one has previously managed, not even Christopher Reeve.
2. The character Iron Man is totally right for the 21st century. He is the ultimate gadget man and pumped full of tech. Just right for today's youngsters to tap into. He can be upgraded and modernised as the stories develop, without needing a controversial re-boot of his powers.
3. Marvel have dropped the baton a bit with Spiderman. Spiderman 3 was way too serious and weepy, Spiderman then took a break for a few years from the screen and the Amazing Spiderman was just a re-boot, too quickly after the Tobey Maguire films. They also killed Peter Parker in the comics. Hence the box office ratings for Spiderman last year were well below those for any of the first 3 Spiderman films.
4. Iron Man 3 joins Batman as being the only single character based film to take a billion dollars at the box office. (MOS may join them later this summer!)
5. Iron Man had the biggest role in the Avengers and RDJ's personality swamped that of other actors in that film,
6. Iron Man has introduced humour into the films that the adults can enjoy whilst the kids marvel at the fight scenes and tech.
7. Other major characters such as Wonder woman, Hulk and green lantern have either not featured in a film, or their films have been less than successful. Hence their popularity has either waned with the public or has not increased like Iron Mans has.
So, I reckon Iron Man is now up there with Bats and Supes in the premier league. Feel free to disagree!!