Iron Man Vs the Dark Knight

Alright so I get almost no hits from a review of a graphic novel on the DAY it came out, so I’m going to avoid being timely and reach back just a bit for this one.

Man a Dark Knight versus Iron Man comic would rule. Anyway… I’m going to dedicate this post to what a friend of mine referred to as a “movement” of people who are proclaiming Iron Man as better than The Dark Knight. Quick answer? It’s not. Long answer? Here we go…

To get the up front disclaimers in… I’ve always tilted a little more Marvel than DC. Just a tad. That doesn’t really affect this though.

The Dark Knight had it’s share of problems. Nolan still hasn’t really figured out what to do with Rachel that would make her at all interesting. The film kind of double climaxes at the end… and the action scenes, though improved compared to Batman Begins, were still pretty damn weak. Iron Man had tighter action sequences and a lighter tone… but don’t you worry Batman fans, I’m on your side.

The Dark Knight aims much higher than Iron Man. It tries to remain grounded in realism, which is a tough thing considering it’s a movie about a man in a bat suit. Iron Man has cartoony “foreign terrorist dudes” that kinda took me out of the movie. Cartoony really does seem like a good word for most of Iron Man, since there were several sequences that are there just to remind you that it’s a fun “popcorn film”. I guess Batman has always been known for psychological depth, while Iron Man has always been known for blowing shit up.

I think structurally the Dark Knight works much better as well. We watch Gotham descend into chaos as the Joker’s attacks get more and more vicious. Iron Man has an almost episodic structure, with Stark getting kidnapped, building and refining the suit, and then his feud with Stane at the end. It isn’t disjointed, like it doesn’t feel like three different films, but it doesn’t flow as nicely as the Dark Knight does.

Okay let’s talk about performances. I’m not breaking any new ground when saying that Heath Ledger was awesome. Robert Downey Junior also really does rule. I was disappointed that the film didn’t delve into the darker side of Tony Stark though, since he is one of Marvel’s more interesting characters. Of course, the Dark Knight delves into dark parts of characters in spades.

I mentioned my issues with Two Face at the end of the Dark Knight, but I have a similar one with Iron Man. I think Jeff Bridges did a great job as Obediah Stane, but I wish they had picked a different villain. I suppose that Stane fits better in the Iron Man chronology, but it’s a bit like picking the Green Goblin for the first Spiderman film. I suppose this is an issue with Iron Man in general, but it means that their fight scenes are impersonal, since they’re both hidden behind massive suits of armor.

They were both really great films. They both had their issues as well. I hope to see how the two fan groups continue the discussion once sequels are made for both films.


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February 2009
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