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Emma Stone

Throughout the week, we'll be presenting the Heroes of the Year, our list of individuals who made a major impact on the comic book movie community in 2012.

Day two of our celebration is all about Gwen Stacy, budding scientist and Spider-Man's significant other, as played by Emma Stone in "The Amazing Spider-Man." Honoring her is lifelong Gwen Stacy super-fan and Comic Book Resources reviews editor Steve Sunu.

Gwen Stacy is one of the most important characters in the development of the comic book medium. The character's untimely death signified a loss of innocence both for Spider-Man and his readers — and when the character was announced as being the primary love interest in Marc Webb's "Amazing Spider-Man," the studio had to find someone who could portray Gwen with the positivity and spirit of her comic counterpart in a modern context.

Thank the Asgardian Gods for Emma Stone.

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Tom Hiddleston

Throughout the week, we'll be presenting the Heroes of the Year, our list of individuals who made a major impact on the comic book movie community in 2012.

Kicking things off is Tom Hiddleston, who starred as the mischievous villain Loki in "Marvel's The Avengers." Honoring the "hero" is guest blogger and Hiddleston fan Kate Miller, one of the masterminds behind Project Wendy.

It may seem counterintuitive to consider a villain in the context of "Heroes of the Year." Yet although "The Avengers" owes much of its success to Joss Whedon’s brilliant screenplay and deft directorial hand, not since Darth Vader in the original "Star Wars" series has there been as charismatic and compelling an antagonistic portrayal as Tom Hiddleston's Loki — and the resulting impact on both the film and the genre is significant.

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Iron Man 3

If there are no such things as heroes, then how is it that the "Iron Man 3" trailer is our Hero of the Week?

The answer, quite simply, is that Mandarin is wrong. There are heroes in the world, like the team that puts the trailers together for Marvel Studios. Based on just two minutes of footage, fans worldwide are already ready to declare Shane Black's "Iron Man" sequel the very best of the bunch. And while we'll stop short of such hyperbole, we have to agree with the masses — everything we've seen here looks unbearably awesome.

We're not alone in our adoration for the "Iron Man 3" trailer. Read on for similar sentiments from friends of ours across the web!

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Liam Neeson

If you can become more than just a man, you become something else entirely: a legend. And that's exactly what Liam Neeson, our Hero of the Week, has become over the course of over thirty years in the acting business.

Naturally, Splash Page readers have a soft spot for Neeson's turn as Ra's al Ghul in "Batman Begins," supplying fans of the Dark Knight a much-needed bad guy with gravitas to get rid of the bad taste of "Batman and Robin" and, to a lesser extent, "Batman Forever."

But that's not why we're saluting him. We're saluting him because he's about to get "Taken."

(Yes. Again.)

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Dredd

by Ryan Rigley

"Dredd 3D" may have opened sixth at the box office last weekend, but it was first in our hearts. The latest "Judge Dredd" adaptation is truly one of the best action films of this past year, despite its lackluster number of ticket sales. Don't believe us? Go see it for yourself! Seriously, go see it or else they can't make a sequel.

Taking place in the dystopian society of Mega-City One, "Dredd 3D" sees Judge Dredd and his partner, Judge Anderson, waging war on a deadly gang of drug dealers. The drug in question? A reality-altering inhalant called "Slo-Mo," which does exactly what you'd think it does. As an officer of the law, Dredd has the combined powers of police, judge, jury, and executioner.

In short, he is the law — as well as our Hero of the Week!

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Kingpin

by Ryan J. Downey

News of Michael Clarke Duncan's passing sent shockwaves of sadness around Hollywood and the movie fan community earlier on Monday (September 3) that were larger than the extremely talented and warmly charming man's imposing physical stature. Most news outlets rightly singled out his star-making turn opposite Tom Hanks in the Stephen King adaptation "The Green Mile" as his signature role. But we in the comics community counted him as one of our own.

Michael Clarke Duncan is our Hero of the Week for the way his all-encompassing enthusiasm for his roles would overcome fan skepticism and sometimes even otherwise bad films. Last year's "Green Lantern" was a bit of a mess, but certainly the late actor's take on Kilowog was a true standout. And who can forget his turn as the one-eyed mercenary Manute in Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's noir masterpiece, "Sin City"? This was one of those comic books thought by some to be un-filmable. But Rodriguez's genius idea to enlist Miller as co-director and faithful rendition offered a true showcase for actors like Duncan.

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Maria Hill

Once upon a time, "The Avengers" had a very different beginning, one that established a much darker tone for the film to follow. Key to that alternate opening is Maria Hill, the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent played by Cobie Smulders. Interrogated by her higher-ups on the New York disaster spawned by Loki and his Chitauri forces, Hill seemingly throws Nick Fury under the bus as the main man responsible for the catastrophe — a notion that would have likely been overturned by the film's end.

Of course, "Avengers" did not go for the dark, somber alternate opening we saw earlier this week. And in the end, Maria Hill did not play the critical role that she might have otherwise in Earth's mightiest superhero flick. That doesn't mean she won't have a key part in what's coming up next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, of course, particularly based on some very happy small-screen news that broke earlier this week.

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John Blake

The second leg of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's kick-ass summer action movie tour hits theaters today: "Premium Rush," the bike messenger thrill ride starring future General Zod actor Michael Shannon. In other words, here's your one and only chance to see what a Robin versus Zod duel might look like with these Oscar-worthy actors in the roles.

Gordon-Levitt earns Hero of the Week status here on Splash Page, not just because of "Premium Rush" as a film, but because of the blood, sweat and tears he puts into his work — specifically the blood part.

During filming on "Rush," Gordon-Levitt was thrown into a cab and walked away with 31 stitches in his arm. Terrifying for everyone involved with the film, but for the actor? It was nothing.

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Batman

Christopher Nolan might be the visionary responsible for the epic "Dark Knight" trilogy, but he didn't do it alone. Without an all-star list of former Academy Award winners and nominees to help him along the way, the current state of Batman films would not be what they are today.

Front and center on that list is Christian Bale, the Oscar winner who brought Bruce Wayne to stunning life over the course of three films. Outside of the comics, Bale stands out as the definitive Caped Crusader, second only to voice actor Kevin Conroy, perhaps. Growl voice and the occasional wonky one-liner aside, Bale's Batman was not the hero we deserved, but he was the hero we needed — and now that hero's journey is at an end.

But before we close the book on his Batman for good, let's just take a minute right now to salute Bale as our Hero of the Week.

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In less than 24 hours, "The Dark Knight Rises" will be available to everybody. It'll no longer be the exclusive secret of Christopher Nolan and his team. Rumors surrounding John Blake, Miranda Tate, the fate of Batman and more will finally come to light — and all will be well.

Still, while we've waited years and years for this film to finally hit theaters, its arrival is a bittersweet thing. This is not the last time we'll see the Caped Crusader stopping crime on the big-screen, no. But if he's to be believed — and given his track record, there's no reason not to believe him — then this is Nolan's final time flying alongside the Bat.

And for that reason, we're taking the time to salute the director as our Hero of the Week.

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