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Spider-Man Fuels Apparel Sales as the Top Superhero License of 2021

Spider-Man’s money-printing powers extended well beyond the box office last year.

The web-slinging property also won the title of 2021’s best-performing superhero license in the U.S., The NPD Group announced Monday. Total consumer spending on Spider-Man licensed products increased 40 percent over 2020 across the industries NPD tracks, it said. Spider-Man apparel sales jumped 139 percent.

The wild enthusiasm that drove “Spider-Man: No Way Home” to a domestic box office total north of $730 million—as of Sunday, it was just $25 million short of overtaking 2009’s “Avatar” as North America’s third-highest grossing film—also produced strong sales performances across toys, juvenile products, video games, fashion accessories, bicycles, entertainment and books.

According to NPD, Spider-Man licensed toys increased 39 percent versus 2020, led by building sets and action figures. Juvenile product sales rose 61 percent. Though the Marvel superhero was just the sixth best-selling license in children’s backpacks during the back-to-school season, Spidey ended 2021 in the No. 2 slot thanks to fourth-quarter sales.

“Spider-Man is a banner example of how film and entertainment content is fueling sales across apparel, and many other industries,” Kristen Classi-Zummo, NPD apparel industry analyst, said in a statement. “Consumers are engaging with more products and platforms than ever before to interact with their favorite licenses. Finding synergies and understanding this ripple effect should be a top priority for retailers and licensors.”

Last spring, the Hulk and Groot—two other prominent characters in Disney’s wildly successful run of Marvel movies—were among eight characters to star in Adidas’ “It’s Not Easy Being Green” Stan Smith collection. A couple months before that, MeUndies debuted a collection of Marvel-themed basics featuring a print with symbols assembling some of Marvel’s most famous Avengers, including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, Captain America, Black Panther and Ant-Man.