The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight Rises

Having seen both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises at least twice each, I think I'm ready to tackle the question of which of these comic book movie juggernauts was the better movie.

I've thought about this a lot. I looked at it from all the angles... plot, cast, effects, action... and finally found the answer, at least for me, when I thought about my gut reactions at the end of each film. With The Avengers, after the last post-credit scene ended, I was overjoyed. I was full of happy, bouncy energy, like I had just witnessed a great victory and wanted to celebrate. When the credits rolled on TDKR, I was literally dumbstruck. It took me a few minutes to process my thoughts enough to be able to actually talk about what I had just seen. Looking at those two reactions is what eventually gave me the answer to the question of which one is better. The answer is...


Yeah, I know what you're thinking: cop out. But hear me out on this. These two movies exemplify the two ends of the spectrum that make up the comic book genre. The Avengers is just like the comic book that embraces all the characteristics of a comic book we've come to expect: deliciously evil villains, a sinister mastermind in the shadows, snarky but noble heroes who fight first and then put aside their differences to save the world, big comedy and even bigger action. It's the kind of comic that is the reason every kid first picks up a comic book and wants more as soon as it's done... and The Avengers was that kind of comic book brought to life.

But there's another kind of comic book. There are comic books like Watchmen or like the original Dark Knight Rises, comic books that try to do so much more than embrace the genre and entertain. They try to be about something, try to make you feel, try to make you think, long after you've read the last page and put the comic book down. That, to me, is the kind of comic book TDKR is. Sure, it's about Batman... but not really. That's why we see so much of other characters like Commissioner Gordan, and Blake, and even Selina Kyle. It's about what Batman represents. It's about sacrifice, symbolism, and hope.

That's why neither movie is better than the other. They're entirely too different to compare. They strive to do two different things, to be two different things... and they each succeed beautifully.

To use a less geeky explanation, TDKR rises is like an excellent steak, and The Avengers is like the ice cream sundae you have for dessert afterwards. You'd never say, "This steak is better than that ice cream." You just enjoy them both for what they are.

Especially when what they both are is awesome.