The year in capes: Ranking 2013's biggest comic movies



Last week, Comic Afterthoughts discussed the films to see in 2014. With this column, we're going to take a look at the five biggest comic movies of 2013. After the massively successful films of 2012, this year's crop stirs much more debate when it comes to the top spot. Read below to see how we rank them, and provide your own line-up in the comments section. Now, let's start with No. 5.

5. Kick-Ass 2
This film maintains that Mark Millar brand of humor captured perfectly in the first installment, 2010's Kick-Ass. With an inspired bit of casting with Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes and even more action than its rocket-launching predecessor, the film showed promise. But even though the tone was similar, all the shock of the first film was gone with this one, and the entire concept lost its luster. This is just one of those rare stories in which the origin story is the highlight, and instead of wanting to skip over it for the good stuff, I'm pining for the days when it all felt new.

4. The Wolverine
It's not that I didn't enjoy The Wolverine. James Mangold's take on the popular mutant delivered on many of its promises. The Tokyo backdrop was an effective nod to the comics, and it was a welcome change of scenery from the other X-related films. And it was darker, as told in press interviews and trailers leading up to the release. Blame it on the PG-13-rating, but the film still didn't match the expectations put forth from the comics, and nothing in the film ever felt that dire. Despite a suppressed healing factor, we knew Wolvie was going to make it out alive, and that the flagship character could never go truly beserk onscreen.

3. Iron Man 3
After a disappointing second film (an uncommon characteristic for the comic book genre, in which it's usually the third film that has fans shaking their heads), Shane Black steers the franchise back in the right direction with this techno-thriller. The Warren Ellis arc "Extremis" was the source material here, and seeing it realized in the film format had mixed results. On one hand, it successfully introduced a new threat in Iron Man's tech-driven world, one he had to counter with new tricks (and new suits). There was less emotion with this story, but the final battle with Stark's army made it all worth it.

2. Thor: The Dark World
The first Thor film was one of the weaker offerings of Phase 1 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This film puts the fix on the lamer aspects of the first, including the Jane-Thor and Odin-Thor relationships. And it's funny, which is the not the first quality you would expect from a film about Norse gods. Unlike Iron Man 3, Thor still feels like it's moving toward a larger Marvel Universe narrative (and even moreso with its credits sequence). Though Asgard is still physically over-computerized, every other aspect of the story has been elevated to a level worthy of the gods.

1. Man of Steel
From its breathtaking version of Krypton to one of the best villains of the genre in years, Man of Steel delivered for me. Many take issue with a lack of fun or Superman's controversial decision at the climax, but Man of Steel had a magic to it missing from every other film on this list. There's a sincerity to the way Zack Snyder helmed this one, and it inspires goosebumps. The quality I loved most about the original Superman was the build, seeing Clark make that transition from boy to Superman, highlighted by this film's look and script. I typically stray from the word, but Man of Steel can aptly be described as epic.

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