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The Avengers > The Dark Knight Rises

Posted by Ta-metru_defender , in Essays, Not Rants! Aug 04 2012 · 179 views

Essays, Not Rants! 020: The Avengers > The Dark Knight Rises

You read that title right: The Avengers was better than The Dark Knight Rises.

Man. Always fun to stir up some controversy.

Why do I think this? So glad you asked.

But let me preface all this with something: I’ve loved Batman for as far back as I can remember. I loved The Dark Knight, heck, it was one of the first movies I added to my BluRay collection. I’m not some Batman hater championing The Avengers because it’s not Batman; I legitimately think The Avengers was better.

The Dark Knight Rises is called the end of the Dark Knight Legend. Which it certainly is. Unlike it’s predecessor(s), however, it doesn’t stand alone. Rises depends on The Dark Knight and Batman Begins for the plot to have impact. It still works without them, it just nowhere near as well and winds up feeling incomplete.
The Avengers has no such problem. Having seen the prior movies does help us understand the characters more, but the script is deft enough to sum up what’s relevant to their characters quickly. Even a hitherto unseen character like Hawkeye (besides a brief cameo in Thor) has development and character.
In addition, each of the main characters in The Avengers (The titular team and Loki) are given their own character arcs. The characters in this film feel complete and round, as opposed to the archetypes of Rises.

Another thing that’s comparable about these two movies is the presence of a woman that spends a lot of the time in a catsuit. The Avengers has Black Widow, Rises has Selina Kyle. Both are remarkably good protagonists, both use others perception of them as women as a tool, both have their own goals.
But it’s Black Widow, and not Selina Kyle, that sticks out as being better. Unlike Selina Kyle, Black Widow has a much fuller character and development. In Rises we know Kyle’s a master thief, and we know what she’s after. It’s implied in passing she perhaps fancies herself a modern day Robin Hood, but that’s it. We’re never told why nor are we given a personal reason for her actions. We can see what she does, but never does she come into her own person.
Black Widow is given a couple of key scenes where we meet the woman wearing the catsuit. We find out that she has red in her ledger that she needs to clear, and that’s her motivation for wanting to achieve her goal. Selina Kyle’s steals to get something that will clear her name of her previous thefts. As great as she is, she feels like just another archetype.

The other thing is The Avengers has you pour more investment into it. Yes, Gotham at risk is indeed a serious threat and we want to see Batman rise to the challenge. But in The Avengers we watch a group of people who are heroes in their own right learn to set aside their differences for the greater good. It’s a different conflict, but one was handled better than the other.
Furthermore, Batman and Iron Man are both called to make sacrifices. Batman’s feels like an eventuality, something that had to happen. Iron Man’s was a culmination of the development of Tony Stark’s character within the film. We have an investment in him and the people who care about him due to the events in the film thus far. Rises had a few moments, but focused too strongly on Batman as a symbol and not enough on the actual people around him.
In The Avengers we legitimately care about the characters and who they are. Not just the fate of New York/Gotham, but the fate of the very heart and soul of these characters. Sure, The Dark Knight Rises had it too, just The Avengers had it more.

Then there’s the heroism. No moment in The Dark Knight can compare to the shot of the assembled Avengers in New York City ready to save the day. None.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a perfect ending to an excellent trilogy with regards to both plot and theme. And maybe comparing these two movies is like comparing apples to pipebombs. One’s an epic, the other’s an adventure. Both are very different and both succeed at what they set out to do.

At the end of the day though, The Avengers was just a better film.

Writer’s note: I realize there’s much more I could get into here (like how The Avengers had more heart and humor, etc), but I’m already past my self-imposed deadline and have to go to work soon. My apologies.

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Ddude the Insane
Aug 04 2012 03:52 PM
TDKR has Morgan Freeman. I haven't even seen it and it's already automatically a better movie. :P
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Both are good films, I agree with TMD though.

I loved both films, however The Avengers was just marginally better than The Dark Knight Rises.
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:kaukau: I understand all of your points, although Black Widow frustrated me with being a simple archetypal action girl, which I view as a negative archetype. Yeah, sometimes they broke that archetype, but it was still the basis upon which the character was built, and I just don't like action girls. She was tough and basically always had the upper hand no matter what purely by the virtue that she was the action girl and could pull off ridiculous stunts.

I liked that Selena Kyle felt more like a real woman in that she knew she had her limits. Bane was out of her league. She indeed could be outdone and even arrested. She could even be proven wrong, which was what happened when she realized she didn't like the storm one it came. Yeah, I guess her backstory wasn't explored, but that was a different artistic choice, and I got to learn more about her by her actions in the present. I liked what I saw, actually, and I think she gives a strong case for what a strong female character is. Her strength isn't blunt, but complicated, which I think more members of the female audience are liable to connect with. But then, this is where go into real-life philosophy about how women should be represented in the media, and I don't feel like fully explaining my opinions here. Basically, I think that Catwoman as a character is more culturally relevant.

I thought that The Dark Knight Rises actually focuses very little on Batman himself. Yeah, you saw a lot of him as a symbol, but I thought that that was part of what a Superhero film does, which is show how the hero affects the people he saves. We saw a lot of that in Rises. I didn't see much of it in The Avengers, which focused much more exclusively on the heroes.

The rest of the stuff I understand where you're subjectively coming from, and really when you're comparing apples and oranges most stuff is subjective according to taste. I like both of the films, too. Although my favorite superhero film is still Superman II.

Merida
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Booker DeWitt
Aug 04 2012 04:35 PM
I'd say Catwoman beats Black Widow, but the most important part of your essay, not rant, is that they're different movies. Like, completely different. They have people who dress up as superheroes, but that's about the only similarity.

I can't say which is better - which I love. Two superhero movies that are so incredible that it's near impossible for me to pick a favourite. I have a soft-spot for Batman, and Bane in particular, as well as Nolan basically giving us perfect and unique interpretations of characters. But Avengers was fun, and should have failed given its big cast etc, but it didn't, which I thought was a miracle. It gave us a perfect Hulk, too. The plot was weaker than TDKR, and personally I prefer Bane to Loki, but this is all pretty close, which is great.

- Tilius
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Shadow Kurahk
Aug 04 2012 06:16 PM
I absolutely agree.

I think Nolan was trying to bring too much reality into something that shouldn't be realistic to begin with. Impossible physics, randomly acquired master detective skills, etc.

The Avengers showed us that a superhero movie can be just as amazing if it's not realistic. The whole concept that the movie is based off of--the Cosmic Cube (fine, Tesseract), the nine realms, and the nice little teaser at the end with Thanos--is a virtual impossibility (though I like to think otherwise).

And I don't care what people say, Bane should be Latin-American with a luchador mask.

I also think Nolan went for a Batman that I'm personally not too fond of. And anyways, in Frank Miller's Dark Knight series, Wayne is in his sixties, so the movies are a morphed version anyways.

I loved Avengers with every inch of my being and soul, every pixel of my internet persona.

And also, Black Widow's character is far more layered than Catwoman's...Natasha Romanoff is an ex-Soviet spy turned S.H.I.E.L.D. operative (and I hope they get further into it with a Hawkeye movie). Far superior to Selina Kyle (who is traditionally a supervillain anyways). And don't even get me started on Scarlett Johansson :drooling:.

-SK
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