The Avengers vs Spider-Man vs Batman

Commenting on the critics with Simon Columb

Ben Child writes in The Guardian about the “challenge” ahead for The Dark Knight Rises:

Christopher Nolan finds himself in an unusual position as we prepare for the arrival of The Dark Knight Rises in cinemas on 20 July. For the first time since the release of the film’s predecessor four years ago, his Batman saga is not the biggest superhero story in town. That honour, at least for the time being, rests with Avengers Assemble, currently getting even better reviews than The Dark Knight, and showing signs that it will perform more strongly at the box office. Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider-Man waits in the wings: the unknown quantity that just might take out both its rivals (provided the shonky CGI Lizard we’ve seen in preview footage doesn’t mess everything up for director Marc Webb).

Read the full article here.

Ever since Iron Man, we have all been desperate to see how this entire set-up of comic book characters would pan out. The huge hype behind Avengers Assemble shows that, as the first serious Summer release, it is now the the ‘bar’ which others are compared to. But there is a huge difference Ben Childs fails to realise when comparing The Dark Knight Rises against The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers.

The vast majority of comic book fans will be well aware of some film politics behind the releases. The Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot due to escalating costs of the Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire franchise and an awareness of how Maguire was only getting older… and clearly, the big bucks are rooted in the teenage market (See Twilight, The Hunger Games, et al). Mid-thirties Spider-Man (in fact, Maguire would be a 40-year-old Spider-Man in 2015) was hardly the best sell when true ‘older men’ heroes – Batman, Superman, etc. – are due for release. People like the youth, teenage fun and coming-of-age elements to Spider-Man – not simply the fact that he climbs on walls. Indeed, the writing was on the wall and Sony would have been foolish to not reboot the franchise if they wanted more longevity… and more money.

Regarding The Avengers, it has been planned for a long time. If Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger had failed, it would still have gone ahead on the basis of Iron Man alone. This is Marvel’s long-term investment and they have perfectly planned how to execute the series to ensure consistent, successful box-office figures. Hell, they screwed up the whole Iron Man 2 story by shoving in plot points only relevant to a film due two years later.

They fired / forced out talent including Terrence Howard, Edward Norton and director Jon Favreau because they were not part of The Avengers plan. Howard I believe wanted more money, but Norton and Favreau clearly had their own intentions regarding characters and plot, and Marvel Studios (from a financial stance) understandably put into perspective the bigger picture. No actor or director will jeopardise the huge plan the Marvel team have put in place. Consistent actors, they knew, fans wouldn’t care about. The only actor who may have control over anything here is Robert Downey Jr., and now he has been stapled to at least Iron Man 3 and The Avengers 2, producer Kevin Feige has happily stated “I hope Downey makes a lot of movies for us as Stark. If and when he doesn’t, and I’m still here making these movies, we don’t take him to Afghanistan and have him wounded again. I think we James Bond it.”. So, maybe Downey is not safe. The Avengers was, and always will be, a producer’s dream – and a property that is completely controlled by financially-motivated – and therefore “play-it-safe”- producers.

The Dark Knight Rises on the other hand is an example of a franchise that was born out of creativity, passion and a personal desire to deliver a Batman story with depth. Batman Begins made less money on its opening weekend than Batman Forever, and worldwide it made less than Tim Burton’s original Batman back in 1989! Nolan made a film which he had his own vision for and he delivered – ignoring any unexpected losses a studio would deem unacceptable. They trusted him and knew that, ultimately, Batman Begins made enough money to warrant a sequel. The Dark Knight was successful and satisfying due to the solid foundations created three years prior. In addition to this, it had an intelligent – even profound – story with inspired casting (I think we all recall the “huh?” when Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker. How wrong we were). The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment. There is no ‘Justice-League’ initiative. There is no ‘list of baddies’ for Christian Bale’s Batman to work his way through. Chris Nolan hasn’t got Penguin planned for ‘The Dark Knight Rises Again‘ or a Riddler re-emerging in ‘Batman V‘. Creatively and sensibly, Nolan is closing the lid on this Batman story.

What The Dark Knight Rises has over The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man is credibility first and finance second. Christopher Nolan proved with Inception – and indeed all his films so far – that he is no flash-in-the-pan. He is an artist with a vision which Warner Bros. trusts. Joss Whedon and Marc Webb may satisfy the fans, but if they challenged producers, they would be pulled off and another director would replace them. Believe me, The Avengers is a success because Marvel planned it out that way – the question is whether they can continue this success now that we have seen how easy all of this was. What isn’t easy is sticking to your vision and building a daring and challenging idea based on an established property like Batman. Hats off to Chris Nolan, but also to Warner Bros. for trusting him.

Simon Columb

Around the Internet…

  • Guest

    The Avengers isn&#39;t better reviewed than The Dark Knight. Check Metacritic and RottenTomatoes.<br /><br />The Avengers Metacritic score is 75 at this moment, so there is chance it might go up but not by much. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 96% fresh rating but with an 8.1/10 average score. There have been only 62 reviews so far and 2 are rotten. <br /><br />In contrast with The Dark Knight it holds

  • Guest

    Ben Child&#39;s needs to get his facts straight

  • Simoncolumb

    Maybe the stats were slightly different when he originally wrote the article. Ben Childs linked to rotten tomatoes originally so assume it has changed slightly.

  • Lenny

    I was about to point out the same thing. The Dark Knight has better reviews by a fairly clear margin. Also, the two don&#39;t seem too comparable seeing as many of the top critics especially are pointing out there isn&#39;t much under the hood thematically. This is not to criticize the film. It is being hailed as great escapist fun of the highest order. The Dark Knight transcended that. I also

  • Scootm16

    You can&#39;t compare the Avengers to The Dark Knight

  • Littlefilms

    In Nolan We Trust

  • Getanaccount

    To the person that stated that The Avengers will be a 9 compared to The Dark Knight Rises (in which the poster gave a 7) has forgot one other thing: Christopher Nolan. All of his movies have been well received, and the last movie he did, Inception, did not have a single super hero in it, or have Heath Ledger in it (sarcasm), was written and directed by Nolan himself, and made nearly $300 million

  • http://www.ryanstake.net/ RyansTake

    It ultimately may be north or south of Dark Knight&#39;s ratings, but it&#39;s going to be pretty darn close. Too many critics have seen it for the scores to go that far down, and some notoriously fickle critics who go against the grain to go against the grain have already given it good reviews.<br /><br />In the end, though, it doesn&#39;t really matter where it stands. Dark Knight was a great

  • http://twitter.com/CGLuke_O Luke Owen

    I personally don&#39;t think you can compare the Avengers and Dark Knight for one reason – one is a comic book movie and the other one isn&#39;t.<br /><br />Dark Knight is a very good film with some superb performances that is let down by it&#39;s third act which falls a little flat compared to the first two. I still don&#39;t buy Bale as Batman and his voice is far too over the top to be taken

  • http://twitter.com/awarmann Amon Warmann

    Nice article, total agreement.

  • http://www.ryanstake.net/ RyansTake

    Just because there isn&#39;t a Norse god or a guy allergic to kryptonite in it, it doesn&#39;t mean it isn&#39;t a comic book movie. I get that Nolan&#39;s Batman universe is a tad bit more grounded in reality than most other &#39;comic book movies,&#39; but it&#39;s still firmly in a comic book (cape-crusading, even) universe.<br /><br />Characters like Catwoman, the Joker, and, yes, Batman, don

  • Duke 66

    I dunno about the other films but your summary of the Dark Knight Rises&#39; plot just makes me laugh. Rush story? Cutting cost? The Dark Knight Rises will no doubt have a superb storyline and I will be surprise if the Avengers or the Amazing Spiderman have half the quality of story present in the Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight Rises may be a comic book movie dealing with characters from the

  • Guest

    Wrong, i was summarising The Dark Knight (Not the stupidly named sequel which chooses to basically copy it.<br /><br />The Dark Knight was rushed, that was obvious from the appearance of Two-face who was killed off almost immediately after he became the true villain. Rachel Dawes who was basically written out and killed quickly after what felt like a cameo appearance.

  • Guest

    The rating is based on how many people out of 10 will likely view the film. Based on the theory that The Avengers has had a longer set-up (Spanning over Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America) and is targetted at kids, it appeals to a larger group.<br /><br />What you are arguing for here is the quality of the film but that isnt what i was on about. I was on about the

  • Ron

    I am in almost total agreement with the article. Although I will say I believe choosing Joss Whedon to helm The Avengers was more of a creative choice than given credit for. I have been a fan of his work for a long time, and I think he was an excellent choice; I mean he writes for The Avengers comics. What Sony has done with The Amazing Spider-Man is the most greedy. I mean it&#39;s only been

  • http://twitter.com/HolyFranchise HolyFranchiseBatman!

    Some great discussion in this thread.<br /><br />Ron – My sentiments exactly. The Avengers is a popcorn movie, and a fantastic one at that, but it&#39;s all about having fun, whereas the Nolan Batman movies offer much more than that. The Dark Knight Rises will be a great film… and like you say, no rules.<br /><br />As for Luke and Ryan&#39;s comments, although I would class them both as comic

  • http://twitter.com/dolores_haze Dolores Haze

    Er, Nolan only made the Batman movies to get enough clout and big movie experience to be allowed to make &quot;Inception,&quot; his true passion project.

  • http://flickeringmyth.blogspot.com/ Flickering Myth

    If thats the only reason, why has he made The Dark Knight Rises?

  • Guest

    Because The Dark Knight generated a large amount of revenue due to many people watching the film due to Heath Ledgers performance and the misconception that it was his last film. His actual last performance being in &quot;the imaginarium of doctor parnassus&quot;<br /><br />The Dark Knight Rises has been hyped beyond belief. Nolan even said he wants the film to be his last Batman. They dont want

  • Guest

    I agree about the Amazing Spider-man, its a reboot, its way too soon, it should fail.<br /><br />The Avengers is a &#39;popcorn movie&#39; but it has a great group of actors and even though their are rules, they still push the boundaries. One character`s death and the way that Nick Fury handles it is certainly in essence of his darker traits.<br /><br />The Dark Knight Rises has NO TONE! Your in

  • Ron

    I honestly couldn&#39;t have said it better myself Getanaccount. Christopher Nolan is an exceptionally talented writer and director, and like you said, proved with Inception that he doesn&#39;t need superhero&#39;s to make a great film. <br /><br />And it really bugs me that people say The Dark Knight made most of its money because it was Ledger&#39;s last completed roll. Sure that might have

  • Ron

    I&#39;m going to have to disagree here, respectfully of course. I think The Dark Knight Rises has a much more serious tone than The Avengers. Sure, more advanced technology comes up and things may look unrealistic, but we&#39;re shown these out of context. I&#39;ll admit when I saw the &#39;flying-bat-thing&#39; at first I was not all that happy about it, but then again I think he went about

  • Luke_Graham

    Great article, although I want to discuss this: <br />&quot;They fired / forced out talent including Terrence Howard, Edward Norton and director Jon Favreau because they were not part of The Avengers plan.&quot;<br /><br />This isn&#39;t really correct. According to information I have read elsewhere, Howard was pushed out not just for wanting more money, but because he was difficult for Favreau

  • Simoncolumb

    I wouldn&#39;t disagree with Whedon at all. But Favreau isn&#39;t directing Iron Man 3 … and you can see the producers hands all over Iron Man 2: How can we squeeze ANOTHER character in…?<br /><br />Terrence Howard apparently was playing the i-want-more you-meet-me-halfway &#39;card&#39; which actors often do but, instead, they just said &#39;too high&#39; and bailed. Howard may have been a

  • Luke_Graham

    &quot;The main thing is the film is producer-driven and money will always be the bottom line – anything edgy, risky or challenging will always be vetoed out because it may affect ticket sales. What I worry about is post-avengers, how the films will become so samey and bland, it won&#39;t be anything special.&quot;<br /><br />Same I&#39;m also worried about this. We only know that there are more

  • Simoncolumb

    maybe complete tonal shifts? films whereby it is hard to imagine IRON MAN in the same universe as the characters portrayed. And then, mix-the-two together! So far, so safe …