As fate would have it, there's actually a quantifiable reason audiences seem to be more drawn to Marvel movies than those of the DC variety.

A recent study by automated market research tech provider ZappiStore, cited by AdWeek Wednesday, found that Marvel's box office mastery can be attributed to viewers' "emotional engagement" with the characters. Humor, the study found, is also key.

The Zappi team tested this engagement by using Affectiva, an emotional recognition platform. Study participants' facial expressions were measured and recorded on a "moment-by-moment" basis during DC and Marvel movie trailers. While DC did well in terms of special effects and "explosive action," they lagged behind Marvel's apparent clinch on character/audience connections.


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, for example, landed a 78 percent level of "lovers" when the trailer was played for study participants. Captain America: Civil War fared similarly, clocking at a 75 percent love rate. Marvel trailers also bested DC on brand linkage and attention-grabbing indexes. "The results indicate the way DC can reboot and change characters across trilogies or between TV to film might be having a detrimental effect on how well the public connects with those characters," Ernie Collings, ZappiStore's research architect, told AdWeek.

Next for Marvel is Ryan Coogler's highly anticipated Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan.

As of Thursday, the Kendrick Lamar-soundtracked blockbuster—which drops Feb. 16—was projected to bring in as much as $120 million during its inaugural weekend. That's more than enough to land the strongest debut of the year thus far.