In the history of the world, there have been some incredible debates (Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglas, Nixon vs. Kennedy, Coke vs. Pepsi, just to name a few). But this summer, regardless of what happens in the upcoming election, the debate stage is reserved for the most "super" debate in recent memory, "The Avengers" vs. "The Dark Knight Rises."
Beginning with the announcement of the intentions to create an "Avengers" movie in 2005 (ironically the same year that "Batman Begins" was released), fanboys alike (I include myself in this number) began to sow the seeds of this debate.
On the surface, the question at hand seems trivial. First, both are movies about superheroes, so many wonder how different they could really be? Secondly, both have been box office hits, so with hundreds of millions of dollars being made by their respective studios, how can a difference be seen? And lastly, they're both just movies, so why should anyone really care?
While the question of which is the better movie does little to advance the real world, its topics and its consequences cover and divide almost the entire spectrum of entertainment. And in that sense, the questions raised in debating these movies are struck with a strict and stark dichotomy.
To ask which movie is better is to set out on the path of dividing yourself along two lines. On the surface level, one chooses simply whether they like Marvel or DC comic characters better. But that debate continues on into how someone likes their movies (which is also a reflection of someone's general taste in entertainment styles). For those who espouse "The Avengers" as top dog, they are admitting, at least in this instance, that they prefer their movies to be based out of the level of entertainment that can be gathered from it. An "Avengers" person goes to the movie for what he or she can see in it, and is interested less in the plausibility and the humanity of the plot, and more so in the explosions and CGI aliens (as well as the overly hunky actors and femme fatale actresses), while those that prefer the Christopher Nolan archetype of comic book superheroes are revealing their interest to be stuck in the plot and character development in the film, and less so on the sights and sounds of it. On one hand, there are superheroes as strong as gods (and with the case of Thor, they actually are gods), while on the other hand there is a man, who is seemingly normal, albeit incredibly wealthy.
"The Avengers" was made to entertain. It is a family-friendly film that's centered around its special effects, actors, wit and a solid story. It doesn't raise any philosophical debates, nor does it question social norms. It exists to sell itself, a feat it has accomplished incredibly well.
"The Dark Knight Rises," on the other hand, is all about the story and the characters. Director/co-writer/producer Nolan, who is famous for his ways of working around using excessive CGI for effects, places the burden of entertainment on the scenes and people he has created, while also raising questions on topics ranging from morality to the role of the government in everyday lives. "The Avengers" was meant to be watched and enjoyed in the theater, while "Dark Knight Rises" is meant to be watched then dissected and pondered upon outside of it.
So which is better?
DC or Marvel? Batman or a cornucopia of other-worldly strength ubermensch? 3-D or I-Max? Dr. Pepper or Mr. Pibb?
The answers to all of these questions are subjective (with the exception of the last, since Dr. Pepper is better hands-down). They depend less on the quality of the films themselves, and more on the type of person the viewer is and the parts of the world that they find entertaining. But the answer to this debate is more far-reaching than just one movie. By saying one or the other, the consequences break ground beyond just regular entertainment.