‘Dark Knight Rises’ Vs. ‘Avengers’: The Dark Vs. The Light

Batman might be the hero we deserve, but is he still the one we want? We discuss in The Weekly Rising.
By Kevin P. Sullivan

Christine Bale in "The Dark Knight Rises"
Photo: Jared Wickerham/ Getty Images

If there wasn't enough of a reason for people to start talking "The Avengers" vs. "The Dark Knight Rises" before, today's news all but guaranteed the comparison. An exhibitor relations website confirmed that the second and final full trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises" will play before Marvel's universal class reunion starting May 4.

Will the "Dark Knight Rises" trailer outshine "The Avengers"? Which film will gross more at the box office? Can either touch the records set by "The Dark Knight"? These are questions that were always going to be asked because of how closely the two films will be released.

In fact, the conversation officially began last week when Fandango published the results of their latest poll, where readers voted for which summer movie interested them the most. Both male and female voters chose "The Avengers" over "The Dark Knight Rises" by large margins. Then, early track for "The Avengers" put its opening weekend box-office figures north of the holy $150 million mark, potentially placing it in the realm of "The Hunger Games," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2" and, perhaps most importantly, 2008's "The Dark Knight."

With "The Avengers" tracking so well and the virtually no movement from the "Dark Knight Rises" camp in the last few months, many have begun to call the game in favor of Marvel and Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Devin Faraci over at Badass Digest wrote a fascinating editorial in the wake of the poll results suggesting that perhaps the bright colors, lighter attitude and we-shall-overcome spirit of Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk are more appealing to a country that as seen too much of the gritty reality Christopher Nolan's Batman has to offer.

And Faraci certainly makes a good point. Two movies in, Nolan's Batman series has a tone and aesthetic consistent enough to leave little doubt about what "The Dark Knight Rises" will look like. The trailers have confirmed as much. The subject matter this time around, however, shifts from the chaotic randomness of post-9/11 America in "The Dark Knight" to an apparently 99 percent-inspired storyline. A lot of the power of this Batman trilogy has always been its ability to feel current and meaningful, while actually being about a billionaire dressing up in a cape.

But is that what the people want anymore? Part of the problem with that question is that it places too much box-office significance on literary terms like theme and allegory, not that they should be ignored. In theory, each film will provide a basic requirement of timely cinema. "The Dark Knight Rises" may deal more directly with the economic stresses of today, but will ultimately end with a hopeful message. "The Avengers" takes a different approach, fulfilling escapist desires and placing the hope further into the foreground. The overall more optimistic views of "The Avengers" makes it more accessible to a wider audience and therefore more of their money, but let's not forget that Marvel's film offers a concept that feels newer than "The Dark Knight Rises."

The power of "the new" may be what ultimately helps "The Avengers" top "The Dark Knight Rises." We've seen Nolan hold up a Batman-colored lens to society, while Christian Bale growls and we love it. We've never seen a lot of superheroes from different movies fight together on screen. "The Avengers" formula makes it feel much less like a sequel and more like — excuse the phrase — a motion picture event.

When it really comes down to it, does it matter which movie sells more tickets? Both "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Avengers" are going to make a crap load of money; that's never been a question. But with Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" taking a page out of Nolan's gritty book, could any shortcomings on the part of "The Dark Knight Rises" prematurely doom Superman?

With no answers for now, let's just feel lucky that two enormous and ambitious superhero flicks are hitting theaters in the same summer with two exciting filmmakers at the helm.

What are you more excited for : "The Avengers" or "The Dark Knight Rises"? Sound off in the comments!

Check out everything we've got on "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises"

For breaking news and previews of the latest comic book movies — updated around the clock — visit SplashPage.MTV.com.

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