HOLLYWOOD—When it comes to comic books they’re not always everyone’s cup of tea, but we’re all well aware of some of the most notable superheroes of all time: Batman, Superman and Spiderman.  Many of us grew up watching the cartoons or reading the comics.  Each of the three have already been reincarnated on the big screen, but 2012 promises to be an epic battle for superheroes as one is likely to reign supreme at the box office. With each superhero having a dedicated fan base many would argue each of them has a shot of mesmerizing audiences, but who will have the edge?

Superman is a household name many of us recall because he is the Man of Steel, with that iconic costume that included blue tights and a red cape. He was first immortalized on film by actor Christopher Reeve back in 1978. While the movie industry didn’t take a huge liking to the Man of Steel, the television world did. Audiences were able to get their Superman fix with “Lois and Clark,” which starred Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher. The series aired for several seasons before wrapping in 1997.  Then in 2001, Clark Kentreturned to the small screen with “Smallville.”  Tom Welling portrays the title role with Erica Durance as nosy reporter Lois Lane. “Smallville” chronicles the early years of Mr. Kent before he donned that infamous costume and after 10 seasons the show will wrap this year.

In 2006, Bryan Singer took another stab at the big screen with “Superman Returns,” which was a total failure; it was boring, pointless and just plain bad. Zack Snyder is hoping to revitalize audiences with a new Superman film in 2012 starring Henry Cavill from Showtime’s “The Tudors” and Diane Laneas Martha Kent.  With Nolan as a producer this could be interesting.

Now let’s take a look at everyone’s favorite web-slinger Spiderman.  He first arrived on the silver screen in 2002 courtesy of director Sam Raimi.  The film was a commercial success earning more than $114 million in three days at the box office. Tobey Maguire starred as Peter Parker, with Kristen Dunst as Mary Jane and James Franco as Harry Osbourne.  Since 2002, audiences were treated to two more sequels “Spiderman 2” and “Spiderman 3” in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Villains on the screen included The Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Hobgoblin, Sandman and Venom.  Each film was successful at the box office, but “Spiderman 3” failed to mesmerize audiences and critics by attempting to make our friendly Spiderman into a jokester.

Director Marc Webb is hoping to re-energize the fan base with his next chapter in the series titled “The Amazing Spiderman” slated to hit theaters on July 3, 2012.  Andrew Garfield will portray Peter Parker, while Emma Stone will play Gwen Stacey. The buzz is that Spidey will battle against The Lizard amongst other villains in the new flick. I must say I’m excited for this one because there are so many villains to choose from; it’s all about weaving an intelligent story for audiences.

Currently the superhero in the public’s perception that has made a triumphant return is Batman. The caped crusader first arrived on the screen back in 1988 with director Tim Burton and stars Michael Keaton (Bruce Wayne/Batman) and Jack Nicholson as his nemesis The Joker. That movie spawned “Batman Returns,” “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin.”  In my opinion, “Batman Returns” was a worthy follow-up.  Michelle Pfeiffer was sensational as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The other two entries were caricatures in my opinion.

In 2005, director Christopher Nolan envisioned a new path with his fantastic “Batman Begins,” taking the caped crusader to a darker realm.  It grossed more than $200 million domestically that year.  Christian Bale is perhaps the greatest Bruce Wayne/Batman on film in my opinion.  Nolan’s follow-up, “The Dark Knight,” redefined the superhero genre as we know it.  It still holds the record for biggest three-day opening weekend with $158 million and a villain unlike anything on the screen with Heath Ledger’s haunting portrayal of The Joker.  Ledger tragically passed away in January 2008, but earned a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work.

Nolan’s third and final chapter of the Batman saga “The Dark Knight Rises” will hit theaters on July 20, 2012.  Joining the cast includes Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, Tom Hardy who will portray Bane, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon Levitt both in unspecified roles. There is so much secrecy behind the film it just makes the anticipation for it even greater.

Being a fan of all three franchises, my pick to rule the box office in 2012 is Batman. Nolan set the bar extremely high with “The Dark Knight.” He knows how to tell a story and isn’t afraid to push boundaries.  While Spiderman and Superman are likely to generate revenue, expect “The Dark Knight Rises” to excel to new heights as Nolan concludes what many hope to be an epic masterpiece.