What Was The Best Superhero Movie Of 2012? Ranking The Avengers vs. The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Dark Knight Rises

This post comes a little later than I’d intended, mostly because I’ve been trying to put space between my pre-scheduled The Dark Knight Rises coverage and the horrific shooting from Friday morning. It seemed trivial to pit this movie against its superhero predecessors The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man in the wake of such tragedy. However, you can’t stop talking about a movie like TDKR simply because a psycho with a Joker complex orchestrated a brutal attack on an unsuspecting movie theater audience. So for those who are interested in debating which of the three highly-anticipated superhero flicks reigned supreme, let’s get this started.

Of course, the three movies — two Marvel, one DC — cover vastly different ground, themes, and points within their respective comics’ storylines. I’m coming to this as a fairly dedicated comics fan who nonetheless did not grow up reading superhero stories, so my frame of reference is limited to what I’ve seen on the big screens or read on Wikipedia. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, especially where TDKR is concerned, but I do discuss the premises of each, as well as a couple of treats from the two movies that have been in theaters the longest. So, consider yourselves warned.

Love Interests/How Women Are Portrayed

The Amazing Spider-Man Gwen Stacy Emma Stone

via Sony

Before we jump into the movie analysis, let’s note that both Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson got plenty of flack for how much they allegedly starved themselves to fit into their skintight catsuits, but Emma Stone didn’t get the same scrutiny when she donned her short skirt and knee socks. I’m happy to announce that all three ladies’ characters were proactive and not wilting flowers, even if they needed help from their brawnier counterparts in a battle.

Unfortunately, each movie seemed to cap its Strong Female Characters limit at two, and when both ladies were in the same scene, they kinda failed the Bechdel Test—not because they only talked about men, but because when Miranda Tate and Selina Kyle were in the same fight sequence, you couldn’t help but wonder which one got to take Bruce Wayne home after. I can’t remember if Black Widow and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) ever even interacted in the S.H.I.E.L.D. airship.

I personally loved Gwen Stacy: She was smart and ready with a sassy comeback, yet she’d get relatably awkward around Peter. And even though she was the only hot young thing in her movie, considering it was such a small cast she held down her corner. Her awkward teenage love story was so true to life, whereas the other problem with having Selina and Miranda in the same movie was that you were able to guess some of those developments more quickly.

Winner: The Amazing Spider-Man

Quotability

The Avengers Tony Stark Iron Man speech Robert Downey Jr. Joss Whedon

via Marvel

It’s incredibly unfair of me to even make this a category, because for all their talent as screenwriters, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and Marc Webb don’t even compare to Joss Whedon when it comes to pithy quips and so-good-they’ll-leave-you-speechless character examinations. This man must use an extra 5% of his brain, because no matter the show he nails the voice of the characters — whether they’re his or another’s — and writes these lines that you’re compelled to repeat to your friends over and over. I’ve got three words for you: “I’m always angry.” In fact, just go and get lost in the movie’s IMDb quotes page.

Winner: The Avengers

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    • Rod Bellacetin

      i agree nice post, with batman i was very disappointed, but i the deep is a goos movie and for the avengers i can only say “you’re missing the point. There’s no throne. There is no version of this where you come out on top. Maybe your army comes and maybe it’s too much for us, but it’s all on you. Cause if we can’t protect the Earth you can be damn well sure we’ll avenge it.” HOLY SHIT
      Tony Stark – (before blow all our minds)

    • Lia

      Natalie, I love you, but our friendship is officially over after this post.

      :-P I’m kidding. I know you have your opinions (which are wrong) and a job to do (whatever) but putting Batman second to anything, ESPECIALLY Marvel, and ESPECIALLY the stupid Avengers, makes me question your sanity.

      …okay, I liked Avengers too, but BATMAN. WOMAN. BATMAN.

    • HIMA OUF

      I agree to most of your rankings, but not quite all. First of all, quotability had to be a tie between TDKR and The Avengers. Most of The Avengers’ quotes would fall under humor, but you cannot deny that there were lots of quotes that went unheard in TDKR perhaps due to Bane’s voice. But he did say amazing things: “When Gotham is ashes, then… you have my permission to die.” one of the best lines i have ever heard, especially with Tom Hardy’s acting, not to mention the blind prisoner who represents Batman’s return and his push, his quotes about fear and death, oh and Bane’s amazing speech to Batman about the importance of hope to be in despair. In Avengers, you have these few quotes that are not remembered, but largely for their humor, not necessarily the underlying lesson or strength of the words as in TDKR, like: “i’m always angry.” “Puny God” “He is my half-brother.” Things like that.
      Now for fight scenes, I think TDKR should win, there are amazing fight scenes in there. The ones in Avengers, especially the one you referenced with Hulk, fall largely, once again, under humor. Like when Tony Stark says I’m bringing the party to you, or when Scarlett leaves the phone on waiting or something like that. But the fight scenes in TDKR are choreographed in a good way, without anything out of the ordinary, and still leave a strong impression.
      Now, I think you might have left a few important categories to judge by, namely acting and storyline, which are, in my opinion, possibly the two most important features of any movies. The acting in The Avengers and TDKR was of course largely better than Spider-Man, but TDKR had amazing acting. Tom Hardy was perfect for Bane, realizing that when watching him, you can only judge him based on his eyes, and he was very good when it came to that. Anne Hathaway played Cat Woman amazingly, and should have her own movie, much better than Halle Berry. Not to mention Christian Bale and Michael Caine’s outstanding performances as usual, along with Gary Oldman of course. Now for storyline, I think I need to say nothing about the fact that TDKR DEFINITELY wins.
      But then again, as Lia said I guess, NOTHING, NOTHING TOPS CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, especially The Dark Knight Rises, which was definitely one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life, especially when you look at it very closely!

      • susi25

        BB and TDK were better than Rises by a mile

      • RyanBritishSteelWhitelaw

        Dark Knight Rises? Good fight scenes? In the same sentence?

    • Christian Galea

      In my opinion Dark Knight rises should win and spider-man closely in second place. As for the avengers you and this is my opinion only I really don’t consider it to be a superhero movie more of a comedy really in my opinion.

    • Reckoning

      I was going to write a long argument, but regarding what the Internet has become, I shan’t.
      I will however say, The Dark Knight Rises was the best, and is only comparable with the others when broken up in to categories not of the most relevance to the entire trilogy’s theme.

    • Deron

      Dark knight rises is not just the best oiveof 2012 the bes superhero mive ever period.

    • Kim

      The Dark Knight Rises for me was the best of the three by far. Superhero movies are fun to look forward to, but most of them are turn out to be generic, corporate garbage. I think the new Superman movie(s) could be in the vein of this recent Batman trilogy, so I have high hopes for it… besides that, these movies have run their course unless you’re a prepubescent boy.

    • MN

      The Dark Knight Rises is easily the best of the 3. I’m sorry but The Avengers is certainly overrated; to me it wasn’t as good as most of the standalone Marvel Studio films. Dark Knight Rises wasn’t afraid to be totally serious, while the others relied on humor and one-liners for comedy. Dark Knight Rises had an engaging plot, but the Avengers was predictable. I would rank them:
      1. The Dark Knight Rises
      2. The Avengers
      3. The Amazing Spider-Man

    • slim

      dark knight rises was the best superhero movie i have ever seen in my life…i mean it..was..excellent..in all aspects..whther it was the story..acting..twists in the plot…it almost made me cry at the end…characters felt so real..and it gave me a satisfaction like never before…(emotional satisfaction mainly)…k..compared to action scenes..it wudnt cum near avengers…or spiderman..true..but..apart from that..in all aspects..its simply the best..i watched all the 3 movies..twice..and i can definitely say..tkdr wins without doubt..avengers ..was good..i mean there were good scenes…funny scenes..fantastic graphics…but..it deosnt hav much of a story…or nething..just like any other super hero movie..amazing spiderman had a great cast..and a good movie..but same plot…almost as good as avengers…thats all…tdkr is more than a movie…its something else..entirely..its..an epic..

    • http://twitter.com/Michael__Norris Michael Norris

      Spider-Man wins for me.

    • Hayate

      (1) The amazing spiderman is a chezzy movie ever!!! A movie only for young kids

      (2) The Avengers has no story line. The movies basicaly copied Transformers (the cube)

      (3) The Dark knight Rises is a movie can be watched over agian. it’s for young and for older people. it has a mutiple situations that needs to be resulfed.
      Note: the winner is the Dark night rises, just look at the other comment here and YOUTUBE.