Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"Iron Man" vs. "The Dark Knight" or Bea Is An Embarrassingly Huge Geek, Feel Free To Mock Her

I was listening to the Culturetopia podcast at work today. Culturetopia's Pop Culture Happy Hour is one of my favorites, it's kind of hysterical. Anyway. One of the...podcasters? whatever was talking about comic book movies and said that they thought that Iron Man was as good, if not better than, The Dark Knight. Of course, I squawked in indignation. But, then I thought about it.

...Huh. Is Iron Man as good a movie as The Dark Knight? And why has this geek Thunderdome question never occurred to me before? I'm frankly disappointed in myself. Whatever. So, let's lay out the facts here...First, let me say that I am not a superhero comic book geek. I'm more a graphic novel kind of girl and I don't really read superhero comics at all. Except for the odd Batman book here and there. Secondly, I have a giant crush on Robert Downey Jr. right now and that could bias my answers just a taaad.

  • Best Superhero: Hmm. I like Batman better. Iron Man is fine and all but basically, he's a dude in a suit. I mean, he's smart and good with, you know, physics and stuff, but he's a spoiled playboy in a big metal suit. Batman? TRAINED BY NINJAS. You can't beat that with an M.I.T. degree. No way.
  • Best Alter Ego: Oh my God, Tony Stark all the way. SHUT UP, BRUCE WAYNE. NO, SHUT UP SOME MORE. GO GET SOME THERAPY. Tony Stark has daddy issues, but does he whinge about them all the time and fantasize about bats? No. No, he does not. I mean, sure, he sluts it up and drinks like a fish but he doesn't WHINE. And then he gets kidnapped and tortured and he turns his PTSD into something positive! So there. Sure, Bruce Wayne fakes the whole spoiled and slutty playboy thing, but Tony? Not faking. And he's hilaarious.
  • Best Special Lady Friend: Pepper Potts is so much awesomer than anyone but she is particularly awesomer than Rachel Dawes, who kind of sucks. There is no character in the Marvel 'verse that is more important to me than Pepper Potts. (Seriously, if she's not in the Avengers movie, I'll cut someone. Not kidding. [Kidding. I'm a Quaker. No cutting.]) Pepper is smart, ladylike, competent but doesn't take any bullshit. Particularly from Tony. She'll reach into his chest and change his glowy-heart-thing (Yes, I know what it's called) and dismiss his one night stands in the morning for him, but she is not going to let him talk dirty at her or put up with any nonsense. Can you tell that I'm a HUGE Tony/Pepper fan? Heh. Ugh, Rachel Dawes. I went on at some length in my review of The Dark Knight concerning the problems I have with Ms. Dawes. Seriously, a girl doesn't have to have superpowers or be ass kickin' or a villain or hero to be awesome. She can just be...awesome. See also: Ross, Betty or if we're talkin' books, Everdeen, Katniss.
  • Best Villains: The Dark Knight, no question. Can you get better villains that Heath Ledger's Joker and Aaron Eckhart's Two-Face? And I think Iron Man villains tend to be kind of weak. Obadiah Stane was pretty meh. I mean, he had a good scene with Gwyneth Paltrow when she's trying to get the files off of Tony's computer and he's subtly menacing her but whatever. One scene. Heath Ledger basically OWNED The Dark Knight.
  • Best Sidekicks/Friends: This also goes to The Dark Knight. I think Lucius, Alfred and Gordon are much more awesome than Happy and Rhodey. Though Tony Stark has some cool robots.
  • Lead Actors: I really love both Christian Bale and Robert Downey Jr. They're two of my favorite actors. I much prefer what Downey does with Tony Stark to what Bale does with Bruce Wayne/Batman. I find Downey more nuanced. I'm not entirely wild about Bale's gravelly Batman voice. The way Downey interacts with Gwyneth Paltrow's Pepper and how he quietly plays Tony's return after his kidnapping is really excellent. I can name a dozen little things that Downey does that makes his performance as Tony memorable but I can't name a single one that Bale does besides being looming and muscley.
  • Miscellaneous: I prefer the look of The Dark Knight and the grim, goth vibe. I really like the music in The Dark Knight. Though I know a lot of people haaaaated it, I LOVED the use of the Black Sabbath song "Iron Man" over the end credits of that movie. I laaaaughed.
Man. Even after laying it out like that, I'm still not sure! I think I enjoy Iron Man more. It's definitely more fun. When I have a bad day, I'm going to come home and watch Iron Man. But I think The Dark Knight is a better film.


Dan Mac said...

Yeah, I was kind of shocked when [it was Linda Holmes, right? and I don't believe it's the first time I've seen her express the opinion] said Iron Man might be better than The Dark Knight. If we're just going off a checklist of merits I can see the argument--and I'm right with you as you do just that here--but The Dark Knight blew me away, while Iron Man was awesome fun. That's not something that's easily quantifiable--although I'd point to the structure, pacing and tension of The Dark Knight--so it's kind of hard to do more than sputter angrily and when confronted with the comparison.

I've always considered Tony Stark Marvel's response to Bruce Wayne. (Although the more appropriate corollary is probably Matt Murdock/Daredevil. NERD ALERT) And someone somewhere said something I entirely agree with: that Christian Bale is an excellent Bruce Wayne, but a lousy Batman. He's probably my favorite of the actors to portray Batman onscreen (discounting Kevin Conroy, who owns the role) but I actually think Michael Keaton did the best job of getting both sides of the character, and sometimes I think he was the best.

I'm just happy this is a conversation that takes place. 15 years ago who'd have dreamed we'd have legitimate comicbook movies?

Dan Mac said...

And speaking of, look what just popped up on these internets: "I AM NOT ON MY CYCLE PEPPER."

Bea said...

Hmm...I don't remember who made the controversial comment, but it might have been her. (God, I love that show. I geekily look forward to it every week.) I agree with you on the tension and pacing of "The Dark Knight." I think I saw it four times in the theater. Because I am a dork.

Someday I will get around to watching "Batman: The Animated Series." SOMEDAY.

HA. That was an AWESOME clip! Why didn't they open with that? I was SO sad that the "You complete me!" line was in the trailer but not the movie. (I HATE when they do that.) Also, this is where I am reminded that I am clearly not the target audience for these films, as much as I love them. I would HAPPILY watch an entire movie of just Tony and Pepper snarking at each other and looking longingly across the room at each other.

EGT said...

Oh! I *did* see this post! Netvibes is set up weirdly, and the originating blog is written in tiny letters underneath the entry title, and when I saw the entry title, I assumed this was a Pajiba post!

Bea said...

Typos in the goddamn title fixed. Wow. That was...bad.

Sorsha Ni said...

I'm not sure why we have to pick which is best. I love superheroes, villians and some sidekicks (as a rule many suck like a vamp on a vestal virgin!).

As an overall movie, I like Iron Man better believe it or not. It gives me EVERYTHING I want. Angst, snarkiness, annoying rich folk, ok sidekicks, Pepper, fantastic gadgets, great oneliners, revenge and cool villians. I just love bad boy Tony Stark. I loved the Dark Knight! And when in the mood I watch it with vigor and think "Wow, Christian Bale is hot. And wow, Ledger is amazingly psychotic!" And I LOVE Bale's Batman voice. F' all of you naysayers! I think it's funny and sexy and all his. He will make a mint off of it! But Bruce is tortured in a way that Tony isn' annoying whiney way as opposed to Tony's outlandish drunken way (Yes, I agree with Bea here!). If I was in a room with both (played by current actors) I would waste no time in suggesting a way for all of us to get pleasure together...What was I saying? Oh. Both are great flicks (doing so much better with Batman franchise now than in the 80's/90's!), but I prefer Iron Man in the end. Stark is just more my type of rich, snarky playboy than Bruce is.