The future of Hollywood belongs to men and women in spandex: the superheroes have taken over. This spring, The Avengers—the Marvel Comics mash-up of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Hulk and more—soared past the billion-dollar mark in one weekend, joined in that stratosphere soon after by the final installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. Columbia Pictures’ The Amazing Spider-Man was the lowest grossing of all Spidey’s films, but the recent reboot still rolls on. (Jamie Foxx is cast as Electro, the villain of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, due May 2014.)

Even films that rocked 2012 without official comic-book roots weren’t far removed from that world. The Hunger Games—based on a series of young-adult fantasy novels—succeeded with an apocalyptic, hyper-adventurous storyline. Looper novelly played around with the time-travel genre. Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s accomplished return to sci-fi, revealed the origins of the whole Alien franchise while setting up its own. Skyfall’s James Bond is arguably Hollywood’s original superhero, and his 50th anniversary film was worthy of the birthday. Even Django of Django Unchained was the heroic gunslinger Warner Bros. was shooting for (no pun intended) two years ago with its DC Comics adaptation, Jonah Hex.

So before The Man of Steel arrives next spring, with Superman ushering in Hollywood’s next wave of costumed adventurers, I tip my hat to the best of 2012. Judge my entirely unscientific, most likely biased opinion yourselves by tuning into iTunes to rent our picks! (Or hit up your local DVD rental spot, if you can find one…) 

Miles Marshall Lewis is the Arts and Culture Editor for