Which film characters have had the greatest influence?
The recent remake of the Disney classic, The Little Mermaid, has been inspiring children around the world to get in their paddling pools and channel their inner mermaid this summer.
When new films are released, the characters within them can have a huge impact on their audience, especially younger viewers who aspire to be their favourite characters. Many things make a character influential, including the success of the movie and the public interest in the characters.
Many successful films create characters that have a huge impact on their fans, but which are the most inspirational?
At Outdoor Toys, we have delved deep into the data to discover the most influential movie characters of all time.
The top five most inspirational male movie characters
1. Spider-Man, total inspirational score of 6.95/10:
The masked web crawler Spider-Man is the most inspirational movie character, scoring almost seven out of ten. Whether it be Peter Parker, Miles Morales or any other incarnation of the character under the mask, the result has always been a success at the box office. Spider-Man was part of the Avengers for the film ‘Avengers: Endgame’ which grossed almost $3 billion worldwide, and ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse’, is the most critically acclaimed film he has featured in, with a critic score of 97%. On top of this, he is the most searched character for costumes and action figures.
2. Buzz Lightyear, total inspirational score of 6.29/10:
To infinity, and almost to the top of our inspirational characters list. Buzz Lightyear is one of the most famous animated characters ever created. Comedian Tim Allen has voiced the toy-come-to-life in four highly successful films. The first Toy Story is one of those rare movies with a 100% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, and its 4th sequel made over $1 billion at the box office.
3. Harry Potter, total inspirational score of 6.13/10:
The third most inspirational movie character is Harry Potter. The boy with the lightning scar achieved a score of 6.13. The Harry Potter film franchise started in 2001 with the adaptation of the best-selling novel ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ and spawned seven sequels in a decade. The final film in the series grossed over $1.3 billion at the box office and has a 96% critic rating. On top of this, Harry is the most searched character on Google.
4. Batman, total inspirational score of 5.93/10:
Batman has had a long career on the big screen, appearing in cinemas since the 1940s and being portrayed by many actors in over 20 films. Robert Pattinson portrayed the most recent live-action Batman, but Christian Bale’s version of the caped crusader who made the most at the box office as ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ grossed over $1 billion.
5. Iron Man, total inspirational score of 5.91/10:
Unlike Batman, Iron Man is synonymous with one actor; Robert Downey Jr. became synonymous with the character when he first appeared on screens in 2008. That movie launched the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Iron Man was one of the main characters in that highly successful film franchise for over a decade.
The top five most inspirational female movie characters
1. Black Widow, total inspirational score of 7.41/10:
The most inspirational female character in film is Black Widow, aka Natasha Romanoff, a spy turned Avenger played by Scarlett Johansson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After first appearing in Iron Man 2, the character has appeared in multiple movies and headlined her own film in 2021. ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the most successful film she has appeared in both in terms of box office and critical ratings.
2. Princess Leia, total inspirational score of 7.06/10:
The most inspirational female character not from superhero films is Princess Leia Organa, the heroine of the Star Wars films. Iconically played by the late Carrie Fisher in six films, Leia’s many looks are memorable, and as a result, there were over half a million Google searches for Princess Leia costumes. ‘Star Wars Episode VII’ was a film where Fisher returned to the role after more than 30 years and helped it gross over $2 billion.
3. Moana and Wonder Woman, total inspirational score of 6.66/10:
There is a tie for the third most inspirational female movie character as both Moana and Wonder Woman achieved a score of 6.66.
Moana is the young heroine of the Disney animated film that shares her name, voiced incredibly by debutant voice actor Auli’i Cravalho. The film Moana was an incredible success as it made almost $700 million at the box office and has a critical rating of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Tied on the same score is Wonder Woman, the ancient Amazonian female superhero portrayed most recently by Gal Gadot on the big screen. Known for her super strength, lasso of truth and distinctive outfit, Wonder Woman is one of the most iconic characters ever. There were almost a million searches for Wonder Woman costumes, showing people are inspired to be like her.
4. Captain Marvel, total inspirational score of 6.60/10:
The fifth most inspirational female character is Captain Marvel. Although she only debuted on the big screen in 2019, she has already become an iconic figure inspiring fans worldwide. Brie Larson first portrayed the character in her stand-alone film set in the 1990s before reprising the role in the last two Avengers movies.
Most popular movie character costumes
1. Spider-Man costume, 2.04 million annual Google searches:
Spider-Man is the most inspirational movie character, and therefore it is unsurprising that he is the most popular character to dress up as - he was the only one with over 2 million searches for a ‘Spider-Man costume’. Since the release of the Spider-Verse movies, there are numerous Spider-Man costumes to replicate. However, the classic look is the red and black spidey suit.
2. Catwoman, 1.40 million annual Google searches:
Catwoman is the most popular female movie character to dress up as, there were around 1.4 million swatches for a ‘Catwoman Costume’. Appearing in numerous films over the years, people can try and replicate the Anne Hathaway Catwoman look, or the more classic version sported by Michelle Pfieffer.
3. Harry Potter, 1.30 million annual Google searches:
A relatively easy character to dress up as, a basic Harry Potter costume can be created with a cloak, glasses and a drawn-on lightning scar on the forehead. Harry’s distinctive look in more detail includes his jet-black untidy hair and bright green eyes. Classically seen wearing black Hogwarts robes with a Gryffindor scarf in the classic crimson and gold.
4. Alice in Wonderland, 1.10 million annual Google searches:
Alice in Wonderland is a classic children’s novel about the titular character Alice travelling to a magical land of wonder. There has been a multitude of film adaptations of this tale throughout the decades, the most famous being the 1951 Disney animated classic and the Tim Burton-directed 2010 film. Fancy dress costumes for Alice are the fourth most searched for, showing the character's influence 158 years after she was created.
5. Batman, 1.02 million annual Google searches:
The fifth most searched character costume is that of Batman; the Dark Knight himself was the final character to have more than a million searches for his costume. Batman traditionally wears all black (with occasional grey), and two distinct features of his costume are a bat-shaped mask and a black cape.
- We created a list of 200 famous movie characters from lists such as https://www.empireonline.com/movies/features/100-greatest-movie-characters/ and compiled data on all of them. We removed any villanous or inappropriate characters, to highlight good role models for children.
- The global box office revenue was taken for the most successful movie that the character appeared in, and the data was sourced from Box Office Mojo.
- The critic and audience scores were taken from the highest-scoring movie on Rotten Tomatoes that the character has appeared in.
- Any Academy Award won for portraying the character earned a score of one.
- Any Razzie Award won for portraying a character earned a score of minus one.
- We used Google Ads Keyword Planner to find the number of worldwide searches for the character, outfits of the character, and action figures of the character.
- We then gave each character a normalised score out of ten for each factor, before taking an average of these scores.