This post comes a little later than I’d intended, mostly because I’ve been trying to put space between my pre-scheduled The Dark Knight Rises coverage and the horrific shooting from Friday morning. It seemed trivial to pit this movie against its superhero predecessors The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man in the wake of such tragedy. However, you can’t stop talking about a movie like TDKR simply because a psycho with a Joker complex orchestrated a brutal attack on an unsuspecting movie theater audience. So for those who are interested in debating which of the three highly-anticipated superhero flicks reigned supreme, let’s get this started.
Of course, the three movies — two Marvel, one DC — cover vastly different ground, themes, and points within their respective comics’ storylines. I’m coming to this as a fairly dedicated comics fan who nonetheless did not grow up reading superhero stories, so my frame of reference is limited to what I’ve seen on the big screens or read on Wikipedia. I’ve done my best to avoid spoilers, especially where TDKR is concerned, but I do discuss the premises of each, as well as a couple of treats from the two movies that have been in theaters the longest. So, consider yourselves warned.
Love Interests/How Women Are Portrayed
Before we jump into the movie analysis, let’s note that both Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson got plenty of flack for how much they allegedly starved themselves to fit into their skintight catsuits, but Emma Stone didn’t get the same scrutiny when she donned her short skirt and knee socks. I’m happy to announce that all three ladies’ characters were proactive and not wilting flowers, even if they needed help from their brawnier counterparts in a battle.
Unfortunately, each movie seemed to cap its Strong Female Characters limit at two, and when both ladies were in the same scene, they kinda failed the Bechdel Test—not because they only talked about men, but because when Miranda Tate and Selina Kyle were in the same fight sequence, you couldn’t help but wonder which one got to take Bruce Wayne home after. I can’t remember if Black Widow and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) ever even interacted in the S.H.I.E.L.D. airship.
I personally loved Gwen Stacy: She was smart and ready with a sassy comeback, yet she’d get relatably awkward around Peter. And even though she was the only hot young thing in her movie, considering it was such a small cast she held down her corner. Her awkward teenage love story was so true to life, whereas the other problem with having Selina and Miranda in the same movie was that you were able to guess some of those developments more quickly.
Winner: The Amazing Spider-Man
It’s incredibly unfair of me to even make this a category, because for all their talent as screenwriters, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and Marc Webb don’t even compare to Joss Whedon when it comes to pithy quips and so-good-they’ll-leave-you-speechless character examinations. This man must use an extra 5% of his brain, because no matter the show he nails the voice of the characters — whether they’re his or another’s — and writes these lines that you’re compelled to repeat to your friends over and over. I’ve got three words for you: “I’m always angry.” In fact, just go and get lost in the movie’s IMDb quotes page.
Winner: The Avengers