Saturday, May 4, 2013

Movie Break - The Dark Knight Rises vs. The Avengers

     There are some arguments that I just cannot let die. Just last week, I jumped at the opportunity to defend The Avengers as someone foolishly stated The Dark Knight Rises is a better movie, while listing reasons and defending them.

The vast majority of people will go on record as saying TDKR is a great movie, and The Avengers was a good movie, but just didn't have the impact or the grit, or whatever.

It was my fault for indulging the paper-thin arguments with a response, but I felt the need to get some satisfaction, to voice my opinions.
Here's my response to this particular collection of arguments:

1) Batman Relies on His Own Strengths to Fight Crime

--Unlike Tony Stark or Captain America, Batman doesn't rely on high-tech gadgets or genetically-enhanced strength to fight crime. Yes, he does have cool gadgets like Batarangs and the Batmobile, but he doesn’t necessarily need them to defeat the bad guys — he could quite easily rely on his own ninja training and intelligence--

This is bullshit for a few reasons, but I'll boil it down to one single thought. Saying that Batman is better
Gadgets? What gadgets?
because he's stronger, and Tony Stark relies on gadgets is akin to saying the guy who can lift more weight and hit harder is inherently better than someone capable of thinking up, building and perfecting a flight-capable suit of armor that acts as a nuclear deterrent.

The author's logic is flawed from the start because he downplays Batman's gadgets. Without the Batmobile, how does he get to crimes across town? If he didn't have anything on his utility belt, he'd sure have a hell of a time climbing up fire escapes. If he didn't have his super-special cape that allows him to glide to a safe landing, while borderline flying if maneuvered properly, he'd plummet to his death while trying to get the drop on bad guys.

Take away his belt, his cape, his car, and his computer, and Batman isn't Batman.

2) Catwoman is a Stronger Character than Black Widow

--Let’s face it, when it comes to femme fatales in comic book movies, Catwoman could mop the floor with Black Widow in a fight. She’s sassy, has the reflexes of a lioness, and could steal your valuables in a a blink of an eye without having to worry about getting interrupted by S.H.I.E.L.D. Plus, she shot Bane; let’s see if Black Widow could’ve done that--

Catwoman, as protrayed in TDKR is crafty, and shows some ability to fight, while Black Widow is among the most highly trained agents of SHIELD. Tell me, in a fight to the death, who would you take? The plucky, down on her luck, jewel thief with a few tricks up her sleeve, or the one of the deadliest women on the planet, who routinely tangles with superpowered villains?

Catwoman shooting Bane is irrelevant to the discussion because Bane was vulnerable, and had just been revealed as a smokescreen for the real threat. Black Widow would have found out Miranda Tate was Talia al Ghul and taken her out long before she could work her way into Bruce Wayne's board of directors.

3) Bane is a Better Villain

--Much like his predecessor the Joker in ‘The Dark Knight,’ Bane is absolutely terrifying as a villain. Loki? Not so much. He didn’t really do much aside from lead a small force of Chitauri aliens against Earth and try to mind-control a few people. Meanwhile, Bane is the only one who has ever broken Batman and he took over NYC"..."Hardy manages to convey a wide arrange of emotion with a mask covering half of his face and his voice distorted.--

I'll start from the end this time. Hardy put on a tremendous physical performance as Bane, but his distorted voice ruined all those times he waxed poetic to Bruce Wayne about why he was doing all of this.

Now to the crux of the matter.

Bane, as portrayed in the comics, specifically the story arc TDKR draws from (Knightfall), is an amazing villain. He is the strategic equal to Bruce Wayne/Batman, and the physical superior through his use of venom, which grants him his size and strength.

In the movie, Bane is just a hulking terrorist who is ultimately a puppet of Miranda/Talia, and his mask is a painkiller delivery system he must wear as a result of being brutally beaten and scarred while protecting Talia during her escape.
There is no mention of him being as smart and stronger than Batman, save for a passing remark from Alfred, who somehow knows everything about Bane at just the right moment.

Loki isn't an incredible villain, but the entire time, you know he is merely the conduit for the threat. The Chitauri are the army he was granted to bring the Earth to its knees for the being he serves, which ends up being Thanos, if you caught the post-credits scene.

Bane is made into a simple brute, and then neutered in the end when Talia reveals her master plan and paints him as a puppy dog of a protector.

And sure, Bane did break the bat, but then he put him in a prison hole and essentially provided Batman with everything he needed to recover and ultimately overcome the threat in the end, though it did require a few magic spine punches to fix that pesky broken back.
.... And Bane didn't take over NYC. He took over Gotham, which is the DC Comics equivalent of Chicago. The presence of a stock exchange is a plot contrivance rather than a nod to being the DC universe counterpart of Wall Street.

4) Better Director

--While some praise Whedon for works such as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ ‘Angel,’ and ‘Firefly,’ let’s face it: Christopher Nolan has the better big screen career. With unforgettable films such as ‘Memento,’ ‘Batman Begins,’ ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Inception,’ he is an instantly recognizable household name with a distinctive cinematic style. Whedon lacks Nolan’s visual flair, and directs ‘Avengers’ like it’s the world’s most expensive TV pilot. A fun TV pilot, but still a TV pilot.--
Nolan has more movie experience. Whedon has more TV experience. That much is true. The flaw in that logic, which I have trimmed down considerably in the interest of space, is that Whedon has actually written for comics. That fact alone gives him a more credible background to be tackling such a project.

Nolan may be an acclaimed film director, but his Batman series has proven he knows dick about action, pacing and his source material.

Disregard the issues with the plodding plot, annoying focus on support characters, etc. and look at the big showdown in the end. The cops vs. Bane's army, which is guns and Wayne-Tech tumblers vs. flesh and bone, because the majority of the cops are unarmed.
Marksmanship awards for everyone!!

Every single one of Bane's men attended the Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy. Sure, one of the tanks is blown up, and Batman does a fly-by, but the mercenaries still have assault weapons and hit everything but the mass of men rushing towards them.

He neutered Bane, as previously mentioned, his movie is riddled with plot holes, and he threw in a lazy, slap in the face of a fan service with the whole John Blake's name being Robin thing.

Not Dick Grayson, not Jason Todd, not Tim Drake. Robin. Never has the individual donning the tights and moniker of Robin been named Robin.

5) Better Cast

--Not that Robert Downey Jr., Tom Hiddleston, or Mark aren’t great actors, but ‘the Avengers’ is mainly comprised of younger stars who haven’t had the experience of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman or Gary Oldman yet. Nolan’s cast is incredibly talented and most, if not all, are established actors whose skills are acknowledged. They’ve also had three movies to full gel as as cast. ‘The Avengers’ cast hasn’t had that chance yet, but perhaps they will surprise us in the future.--

The approach to this argument is skewed. The cast of TDKR and all of Nolan's Batman movies were cast because of their seriousness. Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale have a combined 16 Academy Award nominations and 6 total Academy Award wins.

That fact is also the flaw.

Having so many talented actors share the screen makes it difficult to balance what they can do with what they are needed to do in the film

Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are invisible for most of the third film, so what does it matter if they're involved?

Anne Hathaway steals the show, which isn't difficult with the incoherent Bane played by Tom Hardy, or the still unlikable Christian Bale version of Batman.

Bale as Batman is terrible. He's a great actor. He just isn't right for the part aside from the physical aspect of the character. A guy like Jon Hamm would have been better suited for Batman because he has the playboy look and he damn sure wouldn't have thrown on the ridiculous growl-shout Bale did for talking as Batman.

The cast of The Avengers may not have the award-winning credentials, but serve as better vehicles for the ensemble cast the movie calls for. Robert Downey Jr. is easily the biggest draw because of his performance as Iron Man, but his larger-than-life arrogance is perfect for what the movie calls for, because it is supposed to be about putting egos aside, and Tony Stark's is the biggest of them all.

I can't really argue against the quality of the cast because the problem I have with the criticism is that there isn't really a criticism.
Kevin Conroy = Best Batman
The only thing said about the quality of the cast is that Nolan's cast has more credentials. And that's bullshit. Gary Oldman is among the most respect actors in the world, but has one less Academy Award nomination and one less Academy Award win than Anne Hathaway, who has been acting roughly 1/3 of the time Oldman has.

Awards don't mean everything.


As if I hadn't already, I could easily go down a thousand different avenues branching from an infinite number of tangents. Something about this comparison just gets to me.

I believe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I just wish those people expressing their opinions would do a better job of backing their opinions up with factual information rather than going along with the general public or saying things that sound an awful lot like "Just cuz!"

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