May 5, 2013

The Dark Knight Trilogy vs. The Iron Man Trilogy

Marvel and DC comics have been duking it out for nearly 75 years now. They have each taken their turns at ripping the other’s ideas off, while each creating their fair share of both legends and losers. In this amount of time, it is unavoidable to compare one universe to the other. Hulk vs Superman, Thor vs Wonder Woman, or for the truest of fanboys, Quicksilver vs Flash.

Maybe the fairest of comparisons would be the tortured billionaires known as Tony Stark vs Bruce Wayne, aka Iron Man vs Batman. Batman has been a part of pop culture for almost as long as when he first graced the pages of Detective Comics. Iron Man however, is more of a phenomenon, who took pop culture by storm about 5 years ago. After the release of Iron Man 3 this past weekend, it is obvious that his popularity will not be diminishing anytime soon.

However, this installment of VS. is not to debate which character is the superior, but rather to answer the question “which has made the better trilogy”.

Much like the character of Iron Man being mapped after Batman, it can be debated that the Iron Man trilogy took the things that worked with The Dark Knight trilogy and ran with that as it’s blueprint. So, I will do my best to keep that out of the equation, when coming to my conclusion.

Let’s begin by comparing the opening acts. Both are amazing adaptions of their respectful character’s origins. To be quite blunt, I not only rank them as my favorite installments of each trilogy, but will even go so far as to say they are two of the greatest comic adaptions ever to grace the screen. They are both nearly perfect in every way. Both not only have great actors as the hero, but an equally amazing talent to play the antagonist. The writing, score, directing and efforts all around, can’t seem to tip the scales one way or the other for me.

Where things really begin to get interesting, is when we move to the sequels for each respective franchise. First, I will state that while it is my opinion that Iron Man 2 is obviously the weaker of the two, I think it is also fair to point out that The Dark Knight is rather overrated. True that

Many tips of the scales apply, when weighing out the pros and cons of these franchises.

Heath Ledger’s performance as Joker is one for the history books. But, I think it is fair to say that Mickey Rourke was equally impressive in every way in his performance as Whiplash, only to be criminally misused. Too much time is devoted in Iron Man 2, to Rhodey and even Justin Hammer. Whiplash’s presence in the film suffers do to this. This is ultimately the biggest pitfall of Iron Man 2. That and a turntable scratching Iron Man. The great thing about the first Iron Man, is the careful detail that was taken in finding that perfect balance of seriousness and silliness.  Iron Man 2 tries just a little too hard at keeping the “Tony Stark charm” that worked so well in the original, and it misses the mark on countless occasions. The Dark Knight in contrast, takes the “brooding Bruce Wayne vibe” to a whole new level and it becomes hard to relate to our hero at times.

I find the third installments to be the weakest of the trilogies. Both feel VERY long at times, as they suffer from going into far greater detail in the “story” than the plot actually requires. They both involve a villain that is billed to be greatly feared as the film progresses, only to reveal them as weak pawns in a bigger plan. This is done more so on Bane’s behalf, as he is discovered to be no more of a stooge, than he was in Schumacher’s Batman and Robin. I know that is a brutal comparison, but that is how I would describe my feelings at the climax of The Dark Knight Rises.

Many tips of the scales apply, when weighing out the pros and cons of these franchises. Christian Bale is one of my favorite Hollywood actors, but Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. The Dark Knight trilogy is more of “a trilogy” in that the storyline follows as “one whole”.  One reason for this is having the same director for all installments of the series.  The Dark Knight trilogy is thorough in so many aspects, while Iron Man is just simply… more fun.

The debate could continue forever. (And WILL continue, for all of eternity.) But when all is said and done, it all has to come down to personal taste. The Dark Knight Rises is indeed the “better” trilogy. But, the Iron Man trilogy is MY favorite of the two. As mentioned, it is simply more fun and that is what I look for in my comic films. Everything, right down to the music soundtrack, reminds you that no matter how “real” this world seems, at the end of the day, it is still a fantasy world made to entertain. With all of the horrific stuff that is going on in the world today, I think it is important to still be able to escape into a dark cinema and for a couple of hours be reminded that even in the darkest of times, we can still smile and make a snide remark in the face of death.

About the Author

Brian M
Movies have been a big part of my life since the creation of the VCR. They have always been a way for me to escape. The action genre allowed that feeling more than any other, because the heroes in these films were living in an ordinary world, but were doing extraordinary things. Watching action movies encourages my imagination to explore while I am doing even the most mundane thing and make it exciting. Don't be afraid to use your imagination and keep action alive, no matter how old you get.



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