Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Earth's Mightiest Heroes vs. The World's Greatest Detective

The history of comic books being translated to the screen - TV and movie - has been checkered in its beginnings. For every Adam West, there was a Nicholas Hammond. For every George Reeves, there was a John Wesley Shipp. (For every Superman movie, there was a Superman 3!) but the genre has taken off recently, what with the success of the Spider-Man franchise last decade to kick things back off, then the wildly popular Iron Man to piggyback off of that wave, leading into the blockbuster (and one of the most successful films of all time) that was The Dark Knight. Movies with smaller spotlights but great results such as Kick-Ass and the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are benefactors of such successes. Gone are the days of half-ass representations, second rate heroes who had no business being adapted in the first place, flagship heroes who were unceremoniously pushed back into sloppy seconds (I know - I have this one on tape for some reason), and of course, the movie that almost ended it all.

Two years from now, the failures and successes of these adaptations will contribute to the biggest summer that comics have ever seen, and probably will ever see - the ensemble cast of the Avengers opens on May 4th, 2012, with the third entry in Christopher Nolan's Batman series opening two and a half months later, on July 20th. So which one do I bet on having the bigger box office pull?

I'm betting on the Caped Crusader, and here's why.

The Avengers movie's success is predicated on the success of the films that precede it - Iron Man 1 & 2, The Incredible Hulk (which was only slightly better than the 2003 Ang Lee film - not to mention they've recasted the part with Mark Ruffalo), and the upcoming Thor and The First Avenger: Captain America movies. These films are supposed to build momentum to the majestic joining of all these heroes, and if one of these movies gets mediocre reviews, that momentum is instantly slowed down. What most people DON'T think about is that this movie is supposed to tie loose ends together and introduce new characters for spinoffs at the same time! That's a recipe for disaster in my opinion; it could turn out to be another X-Men 3 type movie, and we know how that ended. However, the castings are inspired, especially with the Thor character, Chris Hemsworth and recent Best Actor Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, but Marvel fans better hope Chris Evans doesn't get his flame on in that Cap movie - or better yet, can you imagine Ruffalo getting worked up to the point he explodes into a aggressive mass of green muscle? Me neither.

From L to R: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Human Torch Captain America), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Joss Whedon as director, and Marvel chief Kevin Feige.
Batman, on the other hand, is a proven commodity that moviegoers are familiar with and identify quality and respect/faithfulness to the source material. Nolan has revived and fused life into the franchise like Frankenstein, although this next installment probably won't reach the levels of success that The Dark Knight has. The casting in the last two movies have been superb, save for Mrs. Tom Cruise, and there's no reason to believe they won't strike gold again. Although third entries in movie franchises are more often lackluster than not (Back To The Future, Star Wars, Matrix, and that God-awful Godfather), this is the last Batman movie Nolan is directing, so there's no question he's going out with a bang: Batman fans have great faith in him and justifiably so. Rumblings of Catwoman have been heard, which would actually be feasible considering the "real-world" approach - by the way, get off your Johnny Depp/Riddler horses, people! - and Bruce Wayne will no doubt be returning to his newly-renovated Wayne Manor and Batmobile - everyone should be interested to see the upgrades they have in store for crime-fighting in Gotham City.

I'm still looking forward to seeing the Avengers movie - with Robert Downey Jr. in it, the script should be good enough for him to excel in his Tony Stark role; I imagine the movie having an Ocean's Eleven-type dialogue (to at least convey RDJ's role well), including the initial grating and wisecracking between the heroes before they realize they ultimately have to come together for the betterment of humanity. But Batman still hasn't left the public's consciousness two years later. Not to mention I believe the third Batman will age better with time than all those heroes in iron-clad suits and armor. The script is key for this movie (in fact, both movies) to knock it out of the park.

It's Batman's battle to lose. However, as long as this Avengers movie pushes this one even further into oblivion, it's a win-win for everybody.


  1. While I am an unabashedly passionate Superman fan (and don't really like Batman), I have to concede that Chris Nolan's Batman films are among some of the best of the superhero genre. What he was able to with the dark knight was amazing.

    However, as seen by countless 3rd films (Spiderman 3, X-Men 3 *shudders*) the 3rd film is ALWAYS far weaker than the first two. Even the 3rd Lord of the Rings wasn't as good as the first films, though it did win the Oscar.

    This is one of the reasons I think Batman 3 won't be bigger than the Avengers. I mean, how is anyone gonna top or equal Heath Ledger's performance? Nolan is striving to make his films less "superhero" and more "crime drama" which is all fine and dandy. I just think that when superhero films are focused on being true to themselves, they are better for it. I believe that is the tone they will set for Avengers.

    While Batman fan boys are a passionate group, the Avengers has the advantage of bringing in several groups of stans. It is guaranteed that they will have a bigger audience than Batman 3.

    Though they are pretty much equal in directing power (Joss Whedon is revered amongst fan boys), the edge I will give to Avengers is in the cast. I mean its ridiculous when you think of how starry it is. Think about this there is a:
    comic book film staple (Sam Jackson)
    former superhero (Chris Evans)
    Golden Globe nominated actor (Mark Ruffalo)
    Tony winner and 4 time Golden Globe nominated (Scarlett Johannson)
    and two OSCAR nominees (Robert Downey Jr and Jeremy Renner)

    I'll take that over Christian Bale's growling lol.

    I expect both to be good films, but Avengers will be a tad better.

  2. First of all, Superman should really be good now that Chris Nolan is godfathering the process ;) I was listening to a podcast yesterday, and Chris Nolan's brother Jon/John has been mentioned as a director, but they're wary of giving this franchise to a first-time director....we shall see.

    Secondly, let me list off the cons in the Batman franchise:
    - the Bale growl (smh)
    - casting Katie Holmes
    - the convoluted way they introduced Two-Face and made the last third on TDK all about him...tried to fit too much into this movie

    That's it, IMO. The casting of Morgan Freeman was an excellent move, Gary Oldman is right on the money, everything is realistic, etc. You SAY that the direction it's going in is more a "crime drama"....since you're a *blech* Superman fan I'll let you know that the way the Batman comics (at least in the more critically accepted ones) are written ARE like crime drama, placed in the context of a "superhero" who's actually not really super, against villains who aren't super either, at least the more successful ones. All of Batman's more serious foes are of the psychological type - which lends itself to the type of movie Nolan is making. You notice when they put in Dr. Freeze and Poison Ivy it went to shit?! LOL

    I say all that to say Avengers may be BETTER, and actually will probably get more views in the beginning because everyone likes to see the launching of a likely successful franchise such as Avengers. What I'm REALLY saying is that Avengers has the chance of getting wacky because of all those superheroes. The legs for each movie (how long it's in theaters, DVD sales, etc.) are critical in deciding who will get the bigger box office pull.

    I was moreso talking about the financial intake of the films than the critical success of them. I understand that they're inherently related, don't get me wrong....I just think you're underestimating the quality that the third Batman looks to have. The story has LOOSE ENDS!!! How could people NOT want to see how Batman ties them up. Godfather 2 did NOT have loose ends. Spider-Man 2 did NOT have loose ends. Lethal Weapon did NOT have loose ends. (yeah, yeah, I know I'm forgetting BTTF, Matrix, etc. but let's ignore those lol)

    Just because George Lucas fucked up (twice) doesn't mean Chris Nolan will.

    Finally....I will agree with you, Avengers has a juggernaut (you like how I did that, right) of a cast. Better than Batman's, no doubt. Just hope that it doesn't turn into a 2004 Lakers-type situation ;) muahahahahahaha

  3. how dare you bring up X-Men 3 AND the 2004 Lakers to me!! lmao

    This means war! (not really, but kind of)

  4. if there's anything to come from A League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it's that bringing a together a group of heroes never goes well in the box office. To contrast, if there is anything that Ocean's 11 has taught us, bringing together a good enough cast, no matter how simple or basic the premise of the movie is, can prove to make a great movie out of anything. But then on top of that, Ocean's 13 combines the two, and it was a fail at best. Even M. Night. Shyamalan had a good movie, and I say that to say that even Chris Nolan can have a bad one. But only time will tell.