Analysis: Before May 2008, the Iron Man character was overshadowed by the more famous Spider-Man, X-Men and The Incredible Hulk among his Marvel Comics brethren. Despite box office for past comic book adaptations falling in line with how well known the characters were in advance, the first Iron Man movie soared beyond all reasonable expectations. Appealing as a bright version of Batman with nifty robot action and Robert Downey, Jr.'s sense of fun, it blasted off with nearly $100 million and closed with over $310 million. With the sequel's arrival two years later, Iron Man is the returning champion, firmly lodged near the top of the superhero A-list.
Bringing back most of the cast and crew that made the first movie a success, Iron Man 2 has the same coveted Summer kick-off slot of its predecessor. History has been made before on that first weekend in May with the debuts of Spider-Man ($115 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($151 million) as well as huge launches for such titles as X2: X-Men United ($85 million), and X-Men Origins: Wolverine ($85 million).
More importantly, when a movie is as well-liked and widely-seen as the first Iron Man, anticipation can lead to even greater grosses for the sequel. While The Dark Knight's increase over Batman Begins (jumping from $205 million to $533 million) is the extreme (Box Office Mojo readers gave Iron Man and Batman Begins an "A-"), other germane examples include the Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean and X-Men sequels. Now, Spider-Man 2 did make less than the first Spider-Man, but, even if Iron Man 2 isn't as well-received, it's still likely to be one of the highest-grossing pictures of the year.