This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
The Avengers was finally released in North America last week, and to no one’s surprise, it made a butt ton of money. While this was expected, what probably wasn’t expected was the firestorm on the Internet that erupted from people who have seen it. Now, one thing is on their minds:
Which will be better, The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises?
This is a moot point, of course. Comparing Joss Whedon and Marvel’s five-movie cinematic universe pay-off to Christopher Nolan’s Batman swan song is like comparing apples and oranges: they’re both great for completely different reasons. The Avengers is a top-notch action extravaganza, one of those rare popcorn movies that is not only amazing, but also an across the board hit for all ages and genders. Avengers is a movie that would sit perfectly on the shelf with Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Jaws, Jurassic Park, and the original Star Wars. It’s the perfect form of entertainment, in that it whisks you away to a different world, one where there are heroes with superhuman abilities and alien invasions.
On the flip side of that coin is Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. These realistic takes on the Batman mythos are more like crime films that just so happen to have a man in a bat costume beating the hell out of people than the previous neon-lit Batman films of old. The Dark Knight is a film that had so much potential Oscar buzz that the Academy Awards upped their Best Picture pool from five to ten films the year after it was (wrongfully) snubbed for a Best Picture nod. TDK (and one can assume, TDKR) can stand on next to crime dramas like Heat, The Town, and even The Godfather as a crime epic, albeit one that has a bat and a clown fighting one another. The Dark Knight has the added bonus of Heath Ledger’s Joker, arguably the best on-screen adaptation of the character to date, and from the looks of Tom Hardy’s Bane, the tradition of great villainous portrayals isn’t ending anytime soon.
Despite the “apples/oranges” comparison, people still see a need to compare the two upcoming films, and not in a simple “which will make more money” match up. One can’t help but wonder if this is a direct response to he argument that goes one every few months in comic shops: which is better, DC or Marvel? While that is a topic for another day, it’s not surprising to think that this is the genesis for the thinking behind both Marvel and DC’s big tent pole films of the year.
But why should we care which is better? Can’t we be happy with the fact that both of these movies, along with Amazing Spider-man, are all being released in one summer? Can’t we agree that it’s good that a wider audience is going to see the awesomeness of the Avengers on the big screen, the terror of Bane, and what they should’ve gotten in the first go around with Spidey’s web shooters? Are we as comic book fans so stuck in our ways that we can’t let a simple “Avengers sucks, Dark Knight Rises will rule” slip by us with nary a thought? I for one would hope that we could. The last time I checked, there are numerous different types of comic books available to people of all different tastes. Shouldn’t their film adaptations follow a similar path?
While Hollywood will focus on the financial bottom line for the three adaptations this year, we fans should be grateful that we’re even getting them. Hell, we should be ecstatic that they’re turning out as good as they are. Perhaps Nolan, Whedon, and the crew at Marvel Studios have spoiled us. We’ve had so many great adaptations of our favorite characters for so long that we’re now pitting them all against one another in a nerd cage match, demanding more and more from them. We all need to step back, watch a marathon of Batman and Robin, 1991’s Captain America, and Steel, and apologize to one another. We can’t take this for granted, cause who knows how long this golden age of comic book adaptations will last.