I think it's clear that things once considered geeky and niche to but a few such as Transformers, the Marvel Comics wider library has found mainstream mass appeal.
Before the '07 Transformers film you couldn't find a person to name more than 5 TF's who wasn't already familiar with them. Once you told someone, at best they'd laugh it off as kiddie fare. Now, regardless of what is sure a mixed bag, Transformers are a well known and excepted franchise of entertainment. Considered widely cool even.
Having spent two weeks at #1
now, Thor Dark World
is more proof that the realm of comic book heroes is not relegated to just the niche geeks anymore either.
Close to $150m in 10 days and a global total in 17 days of $480m
with more to come isn't something niche.
Thor as a concept for mass consumption was ripe to fail and yet now I'd say more people are learning about Norse/Viking mythology than they ever got in school and their idea of what Thor and Asgardians look like, belongs to the Marvel version now.
I will not be shocked to see Captain America Winter Soldier do equally as well in April now.
As much as I throughly enjoyed TDW, CAWS looks perhaps even better.