5. SPIDER MAN 3
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco return to reprise their roles from the previous two installments, with Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, and Bryce Dallas Howard making their first appearances in the series as Flint Marko (aka Sandman), Eddie Brock (aka Venom), and Gwen Stacy, respectively. Peter Parker (Maguire) has finally leaned to walk the middle ground between being the superhero that his city needs and the man that Mary Jane (Dunst) loves. All is well in New York City until one night, as Peter and M.J. sit gazing at the stars, a falling comet streams across the sky and crashes into the ground close by. But this isn’t any ordinary shooting star, and upon impact the mysterious space rock is split open to reveal a shape-shifting symbiote with the power to overtake anything that it comes into contact with.
4. SPIDER MAN 2
Parker is struggling to hold on to his relationship with Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), who is beginning to enjoy success as a model and actress, and both Mary Jane and Peter have noticed he’s beginning to buckle under the strain. Parker’s friendship with Harry Osborn (James Franco) is also beginning to fray due to Peter’s seeming alliance with Spider-Man, whom Harry blames for the death of his father, the nefarious Norman Osborn. As Parker weighs his responsibilities to himself and those around him against the obligations that come with his special powers, Spider-Man is faced with a new nemesis — Dr. Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina), a deranged scientist whose latest project has turned him into the near-invincible cyborg Doctor Octopus.
3. THE AVENGERS
Marvel Studios delivers the ultimate comic-book film, which ties together such characters as Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for a big-screen franchise team-up like no other. Taking center stage this time is Nick Fury (played once again by the note-perfect Samuel L. Jackson), leader of the peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D. Fury, along with former Russian spy Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), recruits a super team to combat Thor’s ever-deceptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) after he brainwashes ace archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) while stealing a cosmic cube from an underground base. Thus the heroes must learn to work together alongside outlaw scientist Bruce Banner (Ruffalo), who can track down the artifact’s gamma signals when he’s not hulking out into a giant green monster.
2. SPIDER MAN
Spider-Man follows the template of the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko source material, with hero Peter Parker an orphaned, intellectual teen loner living in Queens with his aunt (Rosemary Harris) and uncle (Cliff Robertson), and dreaming of the girl next door, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). On a field trip to a Columbia University lab, Peter is bitten by a genetically altered spider and overnight he gains superhuman strength, agility, and perception. At first, Peter uses his powers for material gain, winning a wrestling match with a purportedly lucrative prize. But when Peter apathetically fails to stop a burglar from robbing the wrestling arena, a tragedy follows that compels him to devote his powers to fighting crime — as the superhero Spider-Man.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT
Christopher Nolan steps back into the director’s chair for this sequel to Batman Begins, which finds the titular superhero coming face to face with his greatest nemesis — the dreaded Joker. Christian Bale returns to the role of Batman, Maggie Gyllenhaal takes over the role of Rachel Dawes (played by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins), and Brokeback Mountain star Heath Ledger dons the ghoulishly gleeful Joker makeup previously worn by Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero. Just as it begins to appear as if Batman, Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are making headway in their tireless battle against the criminal element, a maniacal, wisecracking fiend plunges the streets of Gotham City into complete chaos.