This is going to be the greatest summer for blockbuster movies probably ever! That is because there are three films that will hopefully set a new standard in Superhero films. The actual superhero genre of films has been so watered down and overdone that it takes something special to actually register. This summer we should have three films that will hopefully register. Two of the films are the end of a long process and another is designed to be the beginning.
Whether by design or coincidence, the studios behind these three films have decided to release them in the same summer, placing them head to head. I have decided to put them in a superhero cross-over style battle, deciding for you which film I think will win the battle this summer and probably be crowned the best superhero film yet!
The Dark Knight Rises
Pros: Where do I start? Batman has always been my favourite superhero. He is dark, gritty and so much more mature than the more colourful superheroes that he is up against. He is massively flawed. He is a billionaire who has trained to perfection rather than be given a superpower to contend with but when he stands face to face with Superman (in the comics) he believably holds his own. Batman’s darkness as a character meant that with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises, we got a brand new type of superhero film. Some would argue they aren’t even superhero films but a look at a man’s obsession (Batman Begins) and a highlight of the darkness in everyone (The Dark Knight). The darkness of the character means we also got a new type of villain. The Joker is more evil, manic and unpredictable than any villain in any superhero film yet. There is humour to him but it is very dark comedy and he overshadows other brilliantly dark villains too, Two Face, Scarecrow and now Bane.
Bane is a great choice by Nolan. Joker is the man behind the chaos. His aim is to burn everything around him and show the evilness inside everyone, from Harvey Dent to Batman and even the general public. Bane is the polar opposite. He is brute force. His aim is to destroy Batman and everyone close to him.
Christopher Nolan has done a brilliant job with the first two films. He has made fantastic creative choices. He chose unknown villains for the introduction of Batman as not to overshadow the creation of the superhero. He chose Heath Ledger to play Joker. Nobody realised how inspired a choice that was and we had one of the greatest characters ever, let alone in a superhero film. Now he has chosen a relatively unknown villain to face off against Batman in Dark Knight Rises, Bane. Outside of the comic fans, Bane is a mystery to most people so can be almost anyone or anything. There will be comparisons with Joker but Bane should be so different to that villain that it won’t matter!
As well as Heath Ledger, Nolan has chosen the perfect actor every time for each character. Bale is Batman, nobody else can play Alfred but Michael Cane and Gary Oldman is the best Commissioner Gordon to ever appear on screen. Tom Hardy will be brilliant as Bane and though people raised their eyebrows when Nolan cast Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, after the choices he made in the first two films, I have no doubts she will be perfect too.
This film should be amazing. The Dark Knight isn’t just the greatest superhero film ever but it is my all time favourite film. If Nolan can recreate that magic and at least equal The Dark Knight this summer, he should blow the other two contenders out of the water!
Cons: That is why it will probably fail! The Dark Knight is perfect! Ledger’s Joker is outstanding. Eckhart’s Two Face is tragic and dark. Bale steps it up, as does Oldman. The set pieces are incredible and the story is so fantastic that I don’t know how it can be topped. That is my concern with this film. We have seen it before. Spiderman 1 was good, Spiderman 2 was superb, Spiderman 3 was a mess! I don’t actually think Dark Knight Rises will be as bad as that but my expectations are stupidly high. I have faith in Nolan and I’m sure it will take me on a ride I will enjoy from beginning to end. I’d even go as far as to say that without The Dark Knight, Rises could be the perfect film in the trilogy, but because Dark Knight was so good, if it doesn’t live up to that movie, I will probably come out of the cinema thinking, “it was good but…”
Pros: When the people who run the Marvel Universe released Iron Man, nobody had any idea that what they would actually be doing is releasing the first of a series of films that would end with the most ambitious and potentially amazing concept in superhero films. For years, comic book fans have wanted to watch their favourite characters and have them realised on the screen in the most accurate and faithful way possible. Marvel, with Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk, have done this. They have also decided to do the unimaginable, bring them all together in the same place, just like in the comics.
That enough has the Avengers standing head and shoulders above almost all comic book films, but then they began to release the footage. Every photo, trailer and interview I have seen or read about this film has left me feeling positive. The most recent trailer (found here) is so exciting and has so much amazing footage in it that I practically fall off my seat everytime I see it! Try not to watch the moment where Hulk catches a falling Iron Man midair and not feel that tingle of awesome run up your spine!
As well as the footage shown, there are already some cool things about this film that will almost definitely make it the best film of the summer. All the previous superheros – check. The coolest bad guy from all the previous films – check. Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury – check. The three biggest superheros beating on each other – check. A threat so big it takes the Hulk to defeat it – I really hope so!
Marvel have also been very clever with the people they have chosen to lead their superhero films. Jon Favreau was great for Iron Man. Kenneth Branagh a very cool choice for Thor. Joss Whedon is a perfect choice for Avengers. This film has got to tell a story that justifies having all the superheros involved as well as give them all a practically equal billing without the film running to five hours. Joss Whedon is the master of ensemble casts. Buffy has at least five people vying for the spotlight at any one time and from what I’ve heard, Firefly had very much the same format. Lots of characters, all equally as important as the others, Joss Whedon has experience dealing with this.
If you’d told me a year ago that there would be a film that I’m looking forward to as much as Dark Knight Rises for summer 2012, I’d have laughed in your face. Now I’m sure that this film will deliver what the five films leading up to it have promised… well, pretty sure.
Cons: Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk. Those five superheroes all required a film at least two hours long to tell a good story. In Captain America’s case, two hours didn’t seem enough. Can one film do all of them justice? I know I said Joss Whedon was the perfect man for the job, and his track records shows he can do it, but I still get the feeling that two characters will take centre stage, Iron Man and Captain America. Iron Man because he has had the most backstory, the most development as a character in the series. Captain America because he is, classically, the leader of the Avengers and is practically the complete opposite to Tony Stark.
They also have to introduce Hawkeye and develop Black Widow, while at the same time giving Nick Fury enough screen time to justify paying Samuel L Jackson for an appearance in almost every other film in the series. That is all before we get to explaining Loki’s plan and introduce the villain that is working alongside him. Seems a lot for a film that should really be under three hours.
All the footage has seemed brilliant so far. Great action and fantastic, witty, lines of dialogue. There is definitely going to be some cool moments in this film that have you jumping for excitement in your cinema seat. There was another film that had cool, exciting moments though… Superman Returns. If you like Superman, you can’t help but think the space shuttle/plane sequence in the first half of the film is cool, as well as the bullet to the eye. You don’t remember the film being any good though, do you? This film needs to be more than lots of cool moments. It needs a good, convincing story that leaves you satisfied that every hero is needed and in equal measure. I’d hate to leave the cinema thinking this was really Iron Man 3.
I love the ambition. I love that I am finally going to see some of the greatest Marvel heroes in one film, working together. I just hope this isn’t too ambitious and ends up being a one hero show, with support or cameos from some other superheroes you might recognise!
The Amazing Spiderman
Pros: There is really only two words that justify this film being made – Spiderman 3! I know that film was only 5 years ago but it messed with key parts of the Spiderman story and comic background that I was really excited about seeing done in a movie that I’m pleased there is a chance for a re-do.
First of all, we get the Gwen Stacy story done properly, which was a long time coming! This was a brave move because Mary Jane is the love interest associated closely with Peter Parker but in doing the Gwen Stacy story first, it shows that the creators of this film are not only distancing themselves from the previous franchise but also trying to be true to the comics.
Secondly, we get a new, fresh and unused villain that won’t hog the limelight from the origins of Spiderman. Whether you think this should be done again or not, the Lizard is a low key villain that poses a good threat for a new superhero. Great villain but hardly Dr. Octopus or Venom. Which is actually my third positive point about this film. If Amazing Spiderman is successful (which I’m sure it definitely will be) they can do proper justice to the greatest Spiderman villain there is – Venom. He won’t just get a bit part as one of two villains but a proper film where he can really be a menace and go up against Spiderman properly.
Add all these points to the fact that the director is Marc Webb, the person behind the brilliant 500 Days of Summer, and you have a good start behind the camera. The casting of this film has also been genius. Andrew Garfield is enough of a geeky underdog to be the first believable Peter Parker and Emma Stone will be a great Gwen Stacy. The first couple of trailers haven’t been all that bad either!
Cons: It’s too soon! I know this makes me a hypocrite again but there is an argument that it would have been worth letting this sit for a bit. I know Sony are obligated to use the Spiderman franchise or it gets returned to the original owner (Marvel – imagine Spiderman in the Avengers film!!!) but I’m sure a bit more time could have been managed.
They have a completely different villain and from what I’ve seen from the trailers, a very different take on Spiderman’s origin story but Sam Raimi’s Spiderman was pretty perfect. It had the right tone, great action, you believed Toby Maguire was Peter Parker and at the end I was dying for Spiderman 2 (also a brilliant film). It is going to be tough to watch this film and not keep comparing it to the benchmark that has already been set very high.
The last thing to mention is that Spiderman is supposed to be a optomistic, comical, wise cracking but ultimately heroic character. The polar opposite to Batman. The trailer seems dark, brooding and has a tense undertone. That doesn’t feel like Spiderman to me.
Winner: Dark Knight Rises
Overall, I think the Dark Knight Rises wins, but just. The only real negative I think this film will have is that the last film was too good. Nolan gave us not just a perfect Batman film but also a pretty perfect film. The Avengers footage has been a lot more impressive but I know Nolan can do impressive set pieces and a brilliant story and I don’t know that Avengers will be able to pull that off. Amazing Spiderman will be a great film, I’m almost certain of it, but it hasn’t had the build up of Avengers or the anticipation of Dark Knight Rises.
In the end though, regardless of which is best, this summer in films alone is going to be amazing and that’s before we’ve even considered Prometheus, Dredd or Skyfall…