Iron Man vs. The Dark Knight

News Daniel Bettridge 15 Feb 2009 - 17:58
Iron Man and The Dark Knight

Two crime-fighting billionaires with no super-powers, two great 2008 films. But is the winner so obvious...?

The Dark Knight was nominated in no fewer than eight separate categories in this year’s Oscar nominations, with a posthumous nod in the direction of Heath Ledger’s brilliant portrayal of the Joker joining the usual mish-mash of technical recognitions. But, after grossing more than $1billion worldwide and being met with a relentlessly positive response upon its release, many will feel disappointed by its no-show in the big-hitting categories of best picture or best director.

But lest we forget, TDK wasn’t the only comic book movie released during 2008, and controversial as this might sound, I think the Iron Man team can feel every bit as disappointed to have not been recognised by those in charge of handing out the little gold men. Of course, Downey Jr did get a nod for his role as a dude playing a dude disguised as another dude in the hit and miss Tropic Thunder, but watching both films again I just cant help but ask whether Iron Man is actually a better film than TDK.

Don’t get me wrong, I love TDK, I really do and, without doubt, it is an excellently shot, acted and written film. But, take away the hype and watch both movies through again and I tell you what, there’s not as much to separate the two as you might think. So whilst you fetch your pitchforks and warm up that torch, I thought I’d plead my case and pit the two giants over comicdom against each over.

THE PLOT
TDK is the latest in a line of comic book movies (see Batman Begins alongside the first two Spider-man instalments), which has elevated the comic book movie beyond the status of mere popcorn trash to a legitimate source of cultural reference. Gone are the camp costumes and ludicrously silly plots found in the dark days of Schumacher, instead the Nolanverse has serious actors playing gruelling roles exploring the tortured pyches of our protagonists. It is a serious piece of action-drama full of brooding internal conflict and wider spread social commentaries. But, to steal a line from its chief villain, why so serious?

What TDK lacks, Iron Man has in shiny red and gold spades. Watching it back it gave me a real buzz and the film combines its fast paced action with enough beautifully sculpted one-liners to script a Bob Monkhouse stand-up. It’s this sense of levity that leaves the audience with an over-riding sense of joy and what’s more, it does so without sacrificing the exploration of character or a sense of social commentary. Without the weighty three hour running time it’s also a much tighter film than the TDK, which at times, particularly those involving Harvey Dent, felt like it was bludgeoning me over the head with its message like I was some kind of cinema-going whack-a-mole.

The winner: Iron Man

THE HEROES
Interestingly there is a lot of similarity between the characters of Batman and Iron Man as both are the non-powered flag bearers of their respective publishers. Even if they inhabit different realms, they both rely on their intelligence and vast fortunes and both struggle with inner demons that drive their mission. So in this clash of titans we have to go to the actors themselves to separate the two.

Firstly, I have to praise Christian Bale, an excellent actor whose pensive style is perfectly suited to both Bruce Wayne and the Batman. But watched back to back I have to say the verve of Robert Downey Jr’s performance blows Bale off the screen. I was sceptical about his casting at first, but he simply is everything Tony Stark should be. He brings a sense of playfulness to the role perfectly delivering the wise-cracks, whilst his chiselled well worn expression shows us that the jokes are merely a guard against the emotional connections he finds so difficult. He humanises an otherwise alien character and, most importantly, he doesn’t growl.

Winner: Iron man

THE VILLAINS
Heath Ledger was one of the standout actors of his generation and his death has robbed us of what would have undoubtedly been some remarkable performances to come. But sadly, the timing of his demise has blurred the boundaries of perception and reality making it impossible to objectively view his performance. Jeff Bridges puts in fine innings as the villain of the piece in Iron Man, but I still have to plump for what I (objectively or not) believe is an astounding portrayal of the Joker in TDK. Ledger’s mannerisms and delivery are highlights of the movie and he really does steal it, although he is helped by a script, which is as much about the Joker as it is the caped crusader.

Winner: TDK

THE SUPPORTING CAST
I don’t like Gweneth Paltrow; there I said it. I’ll probably have Chris Martin come and pelt my house with quiche now. Seriously though, I’d rather liquidise a SugarBabes album and inject it directly into my brain than watch any of her movies. So, sad as it is for me to say it, but she absolutely crushes Maggie Gyllenhaal in terms of charisma and presence. To be fair, I don’t think that Maggie had the lines and Gweneth was handed some good ones for her role as Stark’s feisty female foil. But look elsewhere and TDK comes up trumps, with a supporting cast including another fine showing as commissioner from Gary Oldman and an equally noteworthy shift from Aaron Eckhart’s sideshow of Harvey Dent.

Winner: TDK

So I’ve failed to separate two films, which are actually more closely matched than you might think, but my personal vote, and I’m shocking myself by saying this, goes to Iron Man. That might make me about as socially acceptable as a leper in a conga-line, but surely even the most hardened of TDK fans can join in my despair that Iron Man didn’t come anywhere near Oscar recognition.

Sadly, this comes as no surprise, as joy, verve and audience enjoyment, no matter how well executed, do not an Oscar win. Instead, if you want to get up on stage and have a good cry in front of your peers, you need to engage in the sort of relentlessly dark and grim subject matter that the bigwigs over at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences look for, or at the very least have more Nazis than the other nominees.

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Dark Knight wins, hands down. But I'll give a gold star to Iron Man for trying.

oh, and the houdini-esque escapes that also truly demonstrate Batman's intelligence.

Iron Man wins hands down.

After seeing both I rushed out to buy Iron Man on DVD so I could watch it again. TDK is still sitting on the shelves, as is Batman begins actually.

I like drama but I like it to be entertaining whereas Nolan's Batman is too dark. I just want a good mystery story for the 'world's greatest detective' to solve!

I liked Iron Man much better, though TDK was very good. TDK had too many subplots that didn't interest me: the attempts to prevent whatsisface from getting killed by mob violence... the stand-off on the ferries between a bunch of cardboard characters... the goofy 3D Bat-glasses shtick. These didn't take away from a great central plot, but they did make the movie feel more complex and long than it needed to be.

While I really thought Dark Knight took comic book heroes to an entirely different level, Ironman was very enjoyable. In retrospect Dark Knight ended up a little too dark in places for the fun of being Batman to shine through, where Tony Stark was obviously having a hoot being Ironman. Sometimes depth of portrayal doesn't actually make for compulsive viewing.

I liked them both. But Iron Man was fun. The Dark Knight wasn't really fun.

The Dark Knight by a milestone, Iron Man was good, dragged in bits, but the villians were to obvious, however the Dark Knight if you take the Joker for example, the most intresting physce in film history, and Harvey "Two Face" Dent as opposed to Iron Mans (just like the Hulk) I got a bigger suit to you, and I'm the same in every way but evil, the winners obvious (We all love villians more than the heroes). The best thing about Iron Man was the last thing he said in the film

Oh and in refrence to this article, the story in Iron Man wasn't even a scratch on The Dark Knight, you are twisted man for beliving that lol! Iron Man's story was to obvious and it has been done before, The Dark Knight ventured into the unknown, and pulled out some impressive results, one thing that makes a good story is it beliavable, it charchters and its message? Dark Knight ticks all three boxes!

Good lord how did these two even compare.. despite coming out the same year.

But I would have thought the clear winner was The Dark knight???

Iron-Man was good, and Doney is amazing, but the plot was dialed in! It was very much your basic comic book movie plot. Not a bad thing? And it has set ground for hopfully a better sequel. but far from one of the best Comic Book movies ever made.. which I think the Dark knight clearly is.

And poor Harvey-Dent was as much of a draw as the joker. (Love you Heath! But Eckhart was cruelly over looked).

So I don't want to upset iron man fans, but The Dark knight bravely took steps that this genre needed to take. And i'm glad the end wasn't all rosey! Anyone one ever see Empire Strikes Back for gods sake!

(Lets just hope Batman 3 isn't a Jedi! LOL. They already had Qui-Gon turn up in part one! LOL- doinga very Qui-Gon role)

Dark Knight wins, hands down. But I'll give a gold star to Iron Man for trying.

I liked Iron Man much better, though TDK was very good. TDK had too many subplots that didn't interest me: the attempts to prevent whatsisface from getting killed by mob violence... the stand-off on the ferries between a bunch of cardboard characters... the goofy 3D Bat-glasses shtick. These didn't take away from a great central plot, but they did make the movie feel more complex and long than it needed to be.

Iron Man wins hands down.

After seeing both I rushed out to buy Iron Man on DVD so I could watch it again. TDK is still sitting on the shelves, as is Batman begins actually.

I like drama but I like it to be entertaining whereas Nolan's Batman is too dark. I just want a good mystery story for the 'world's greatest detective' to solve!

oh, and the houdini-esque escapes that also truly demonstrate Batman's intelligence.

While I really thought Dark Knight took comic book heroes to an entirely different level, Ironman was very enjoyable. In retrospect Dark Knight ended up a little too dark in places for the fun of being Batman to shine through, where Tony Stark was obviously having a hoot being Ironman. Sometimes depth of portrayal doesn't actually make for compulsive viewing.

I liked them both. But Iron Man was fun. The Dark Knight wasn't really fun.

Oh and in refrence to this article, the story in Iron Man wasn't even a scratch on The Dark Knight, you are twisted man for beliving that lol! Iron Man's story was to obvious and it has been done before, The Dark Knight ventured into the unknown, and pulled out some impressive results, one thing that makes a good story is it beliavable, it charchters and its message? Dark Knight ticks all three boxes!

The Dark Knight by a milestone, Iron Man was good, dragged in bits, but the villians were to obvious, however the Dark Knight if you take the Joker for example, the most intresting physce in film history, and Harvey "Two Face" Dent as opposed to Iron Mans (just like the Hulk) I got a bigger suit to you, and I'm the same in every way but evil, the winners obvious (We all love villians more than the heroes). The best thing about Iron Man was the last thing he said in the film

Good lord how did these two even compare.. despite coming out the same year.

But I would have thought the clear winner was The Dark knight???

Iron-Man was good, and Doney is amazing, but the plot was dialed in! It was very much your basic comic book movie plot. Not a bad thing? And it has set ground for hopfully a better sequel. but far from one of the best Comic Book movies ever made.. which I think the Dark knight clearly is.

And poor Harvey-Dent was as much of a draw as the joker. (Love you Heath! But Eckhart was cruelly over looked).

So I don't want to upset iron man fans, but The Dark knight bravely took steps that this genre needed to take. And i'm glad the end wasn't all rosey! Anyone one ever see Empire Strikes Back for gods sake!

(Lets just hope Batman 3 isn't a Jedi! LOL. They already had Qui-Gon turn up in part one! LOL- doinga very Qui-Gon role)

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