Monday, July 30, 2012
Dark Knight VS. Avengers
Right after seeing The Dark Knight Rises, my brother and I debated which superhero movie wins the title of Best Hero Movie of 2012. As much as I love Spiderman, I didn't even consider The Amazing Spiderman, mostly because it just isn't on the level of The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises. With frenzied anticipation, fanboys and casual movie goers alike flocked to both movies, revved up by the first two Batman movies and the many Marvel movies.
Marvel's Avengers takes a lighter approach to its heroes and battles, pitting Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Hulk against the always entertaining but never truly terrifying Loki. While the movie does kill Agent Coulson, giving its avengers something to avenge, it still maintains a comic and light tone for most of the film. Captain America doesn't understand modern references, Hulk and Iron Man become besties, and Iron Man refers to Loki and Thor as "Shakespeare in the park." The movie isn't meant to echo reality, its meant to be better than it. That doesn't mean it wasn't one of the best movies of the year, period, and that it didn't offer a great theme of sacrifice among all of the action. That, and the movie is just a lot of fun.
The Dark Knight Rises, in contrast, presents its DC hero in a corrupt and often realistic Gotham. The film is not afraid to hurt and possibly kill its Batman. It makes the audience feel despair and awe with equal force, focusing on both action and humanity. If The Avengers is an event movie, than The Dark Knight Rises is the event movie. There is as much focus on characters and the human condition as there is on the action sequences and fancy technology. The third movie echoed the first, when Bruce's father asks him why we fall. So that we can get back up again. It was the payoff for following the trilogy to see Batman conclude.
There is one weakness in Dark Knight Rises that was not in the Avengers. In the Dark Knight Rises, some of the characters and story had to be rushed, like when Catwoman suddenly kisses Bruce, without really explaining when their relationship suddenly snapped into romantic. It sometimes created development whiplash. The Avengers, on the other hand, at the hands of the excellent Joss Whedon (Creator of Firefly, Buffy), was able to balance its heavy roster of characters remarkably well. Rises, like Avengers, focuses on the theme of sacrifice.
Which movie then, is the better movie? They are so different, it is almost impossible to say. The Avengers was a fantastic, fun adventure and one of my favorite movies of the year. The Dark Knight Rises was hero-poetry, beautiful and sprawling, heartbreaking and restoring. It is then a matter of taste. Do you like your heroes bright and shining, or dark and rising? I have to give it to The Dark Knight Rises, mainly because I think that it defies genres, and is not only the best hero movie of the year, but also one of the best movies of 2012 in any genre. The real winner though, is the movie goer, who has so many options in fantastic superhero stories.