As Batman threequel The Dark Knight Rises tries to outrun high expectations (not to mention controversy and tragedy), it now heads into an intense box office competition with the summer's biggest and most-loved hit so far, The Avengers.
These megabucks superflicks have been the talk of the season, for much different reasons, but plenty of the chatter is—finally, now that we've seen 'em—about which is better.
Both are big ambitious adventures that deserve your hard-earned moola, but in the battle of superhero movie supremacy we have to give the advantage to Tony Stark & Co. over Bruce Wayne. Here's why:
1. The Avengers Is Simply More Fun: The Dark Knight Rises is funnier than previous batflicks, sure. But with writer/director Joss Whedon's witty dialogue, The Avengers acts like it knows it's a summer popcorn flick. Rises wants to be so much more (like an Oscar hopeful?) and can't quite pull off the balance between moments that are as light as The Cat's backflips and deadly serious as Bruce Wayne's time in The Pit.
2. The Dark Knight Was a Tough Act to Follow: And Rises couldn't quite do it. Now, Avengers only had to surpass Iron Man 2, Thor, Hulk, Captain America-and it did! No one really knew how The Avengers would actually work, but after a five-film buildup, the real feat was how effortless the whole thing felt. What scene in Rises is as cool as Iron Man brawling with Thor and Captain America stepping in to break it up? Answer: No scene is that cool.
3. Easter Eggs and Falafels: The quick glimpse of space titan Thanos at the end of The Avengers made us break open those dusty boxes of comics to search for clues on what's next. That's a big part of what makes Marvel's initiative so cool: As we get teases for the next film's plot we suddenly want to read all about it. That extra final scene at the falafel shop with no dialogue had everyone leaving the theatre with huge smiles.
The Dark Knight Rises pays off at the end with some serious twists, and—SPOILER ALERT!!!—the setup of a potential successor. But isn't that what you expect from a Christopher Nolan flick, anyway?
4. Iron Man Is Easier to Talk To Than Batman: While Batman's screen time is the least of the films, we would like to think Christian Bale knew more Bruce Wayne time meant less growly line readings, which made parts of The Dark Knight seem unintentionally silly. Still, The Dark Knight Rises had plenty of good lines trampled by excessive pounding music or Bane's creepy breathing apparatus. Iron Man at worst sounds like a robot. A really awesome robot.
5. No Hulk: The Dark Knight Rises doesn't have a Hulk, or anything like it. It has a Gotham army of police, Bane, Anne Hathaway on a batcycle, a fusion bomb, an exploding football field, pain and sorrow, the League of Shadows, more social commentary than an episode of The Daily Show, but no Hulk. Strange how both films (and Transformers 3 before them) all came down to metropolis-smashing mayhem, but The Avengers topped the rest as Mark Ruffalo proclaimed "I'm always angry." And the Hulk proceeded to smash like he never smashed before. No superheroic climax has ever been such a crowd-pleaser.
Of course, maybe you can come up with five reasons The Dark Knight trounces The Avengers, and you should—in the comments. But we'll start with this one:
1. IMAX > 3-D: With more than 40 percent of Rises actually shot in IMAX, the picture looks incredible. Way better than the post-converted 3-D of Avengers.