Dan said that The Dark Knight was “arguably the best superhero flick ever.” Vocal Minority said “it wasn’t….I honestly think I enjoyed Iron Man more.” Thus, with a bit of nudging from your friendly neighborhood editor, a roundtable was born. Which was the better—or maybe even best ever—superhero movie? The Bad Genious debates the important issues!
Let us begin by conceding that everyone involved with the Bad Genious thought Iron Man and The Dark Knight were both EXCELLENT movies.
And now, a confession: your FNE doesn’t really like Batman. Shocking? Perhaps, but facts are facts. And the fact is that Batman, the character, has never found a place in your FNE’s heart. Odd, considering how much she loved the old 60’s TV show and Tim Burton’s first movie. So, as much as she liked The Dark Knight and found it a fantastic movie, she liked Iron Man more. A lot more.
Vocal Minority - I enjoyed The Dark Knight. But everyone raved about it being the “best film ever” and it wasn’t. I'm not even sure it was the best superhero flick I've ever seen. But that's the price of hype I guess. I can honestly say I enjoyed Iron Man more.
Betsy - I think Iron Man is easier to watch. The subject is a lot lighter and more fun.
Vocal Minority - I'm not sure what it is, but I don't think it's a question of ease-to-watch. I think there's a little bit of the fact that I've seen Batman on screen quite a lot, but never seen Stark before. It also helped that Stark is a more interesting character than Bruce Wayne.
Joe - Some of you are on crazy pills.
The General - I would possibly say that I enjoyed Iron Man more; it proved how good a super hero movie can be. But, I think that Dark Knight was a better movie; it proved that a super hero film didn't have to be a "super hero film."
Joe - The General is not on crazy pills.
Vocal Minority - I'm not utterly convinced you have sufficient perspective to make that distinction, Bat-boy....
Joe - Crazy. Pills.
Doug - With Iron Man, I always felt like I knew what was just around the corner. There were no surprises. With Dark Knight, I honestly didn't know what was going to happen next. I can't think of another superhero movie that really put me off-guard the way Dark Knight did.
Dan - Iron Man was limited in its scope because it had to go through all the motions of telling the origin and introducing characters.
The General - You basically knew what to expect and Iron Man knew what to deliver. For as pitch perfect as it was, it was also fairly “safe.” Batman was successful because Nolan was reinventing the super hero movie a bit, in terms of tone and storytelling. It had more in common with a movie like Heat than it did your standard super hero film.
Chris - Take away the superhero angles from both movies and what have you got? Iron Man was a kind of generic story about a weapons designer who sees the errors of his ways and tries to turn his company in a new direction only to have a money grubbing subordinate who wants to keep doing business as usual. The Dark Knight was a twisty crime caper with a psychotic antagonist that nobody knows what he's going to do next (probably not even himself).
Vocal Minority - I dunno about Iron Man being safer than Dark Knight. I mean you were right when you said that Dark Knight is very much like a crime film in the Michael Mann vein. But that doesn't make it less safe, just conventional in the crime-genre kinda way. Iron Man had a main character with marvelously complex motives and morals. One night stands, boozing, arrogant - whereas Batman is a far more conventional and, arguably, simplistic hero.
The General - I will say that, as good an actor as Christian Bale is, Robert Downey Jr. did a better job of inhabiting Tony Stark than Bale did Bruce Wayne.
Vocal Minority - Downey was miles better than Bale, but Stark's a much more interesting character, plus he was the focus of the flim.
So if Tony Stark and Iron Man are more interesting than Bruce Wayne and Batman, why does Batman make the better movie? Is it because Harvey Dent and the Joker are more dynamic that Obadiah Stane?
Brandon - The Joker is insane, but in the way it manifests itself outwardly lends to a pretty one-dimensional portrayal. However, Heath Ledger’s personality absolutely bleeds off the screen.
Betsy - Ledger’s Joker was absolutely unique in a way that made Jeff Bridges’ Stane look cookie-cutter by comparison.
Vocal Minority - Joker was interesting because he was so full-on and nothing else. But I think we're short-selling Stane, and indeed Bridges' portrayal here. Yes, he got a bit obvious as the threat-at-the-end, but up to that point... he was subtle. He wasn't obviously the villain. You knew he was unhappy with what Stark was doing, but it wasn't a raving, evil thing. He was parental and sympathetic - you could see why stark still trusted him until the complete betrayal. And when he was ruthless, it was a cold, menacing calm. The character might have been more of a stereotype, but Bridges' acting was great. Comparatively the Joker was just all-get-out nuts and chaos. Much easier to throw yourself into and come out brilliantly, especially when the script gives you so many opportunities to look great. Much easier to get right for the right actor.
The General - I agree with Tim that, up until he went evil, Stane was a sympathetic character, and you could see why Tony would trust in him. That's a big accomplishment for a character you knew was going to be the bad guy. But, it also was problematic because it meant his switch to evil was less believable. That said, Ledger’s Joker was better by a long shot.
Doug - Gary Oldman hasn't gotten nearly enough praise for his portrayal of Jim Gordon. And Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent was, arguably, the second-best part of Dark Knight.
Dan - And of course Dark Knight had Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine, who are always wonderful to watch on screen. Iron Man had the dude from Hustle & Flow.
But Iron Man had Jarvis!
Okay, your FNE is tired and her Internet connection is acting up. Any closing thoughts?
Chris - Iron Man needed the superhero aspect to raise the script above something mediocre while Dark Knight would have been an amazing crime film without it.
Joe - Iron Man was the best comic book movie to come out since Batman Begins, but prior to The Dark Knight. Dark Knight is the best movie I’ve ever seen.
So there you have it. The Bad Genious debated, and you’re all winners. But especially Iron Man, because your FNE still liked it better.