The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises

I posted this elsewhere, but I’m importing it here because this might be the most coherent thing I’m able to say about The Dark Knight Rises for a while. It left me pretty shaky.

Which movie is better: The Avengers, or The Dark Knight Rises?

I know this is a question that’s going to be asked a lot, for obvious reasons. I’ve already been asked it four times. But despite the obviousness of drawing comparisons between the two films, I feel like any attempt to rank them against one another is an artificial reach.

Let’s just say this:

On the spectrum of how to make a successful superhero movie, they each represent exact opposite ends of the scale. TDKR is probably strictly a better film than The Avengers in most measurable ways that you can quantify filmmaking, but that’s not the whole picture.

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything more amazing on a movie screen. Period. It’s astounding, Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece to date, and to be perfectly honest I spent most of it in tears. Right from the first frame, the mood is one of overwhelming, masterful tragedy that holds your heart in its fist. Doesn’t crush it, just holds it there breathless and fluttering like a small bird, waiting for the worst to happen. The weight of this looming tragedy hangs there, an ache that never abates for three hours. And in the end, I thanked the movie for hurting me so badly. Silently, because I had been rendered literally speechless. I’ve never been made to feel quite this way by a movie, and I know unquestionably that I’ve never loved a movie this much.

But. When I own both The Avengers and TDKR on bluray, Batman is not the one I’ll be watching every day. I can’t. I don’t know if I can ever watch it again. I’ll have to feel that out on a day-to-day basis, hoping that one day I’ll have the strength to face it again. It was deeply emotionally draining.

The Avengers, on the other hand, was the most fun I’ve ever had at the movies. I love every character and every actor in it, and Joss Whedon is my man. That movie is two hours of bouncing in my seat because of sheer childlike joy pumping through my veins along with the adrenaline. It’s a happy-maker. We’ve got explosions and dudes in capes beating each other up and aliens ruining the shit out of Manhattan accompanied by a consistently awesome stream of snappy dialogue. It is win on a tightly-scripted gold plate.

But really, trying to say which one of them is better? No. You don’t compare ice cream and puppies. You enjoy them both and shut the hell up about having to declare some kind of winner.

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Dying every day

I really need to get out of this town.

For most of the year, our mutual hatred for one another simmers down to a low background murmur of discontentment I can mostly ignore. My neighborhood is bad, so I don’t go on walks or bike rides as often as I would like to. Culture is nearly non-existent, so I don’t get out much. Drive times are horrific and the scenery terrible, so I occasionally talk myself out of seeing my friends and family. I’ve never been a fan of desert vegetation — I find it harsh and alien and I have never been able to feel at home in it — and water is a rarity, so visits to public parks aren’t exactly the tranquil retreats I’d like them to be. But, I don’t know, my family is here and so is my husband’s job and my teenager’s life and the college degree I’m only a semester short of if I ever get back to it, and the cost of living is tolerable. And I’m frankly too poor to uproot and make a life somewhere else. So I deal.

But then May comes around and the temperatures start to rise. A panic sets in. I know I’m about to lose what mobility and social life I vaguely cling to. Sometimes I entirely deplete my store of financial and emotional resources living as though I’ve been given a terminal diagnosis. Because it’s sort of true.

June arrives, and I am rendered literally housebound by Nature. In the same way that winter robs people in northern climates of their mobility with blizzards and killing cold, summer in Phoenix takes tyrannical control of my life. My interaction with the world outside shrinks to its barest minimum, necessities only. I could tell you how long it’s been since I last left my house, but it’s maybe just a little too sad. Cabin fever set in a long time ago, but just stepping outside to collect the mail is enough to remind me why I’m not getting out more. There’s nothing good about living in a place where you need a shower just because you spent thirty seconds beyond the reach of your central air.

For the first few weeks of summer, this hermit-like living is too instinctive, driven by sheerest self-preservation, to inspire much grief. Indeed, it’s hard to think anything at all when the a/c is running nearly constantly and still can’t dispel the heat.

Then I realize it’s July and I’ve spent an entire month dying slowly. I realize this place is killing me. Because this, what I’m doing now, what the heat has made of me, is not living. And it’s going to be literally months still before summer lets me out again. Months of my life every year are lost to this tyranny. The bars of the cage come into focus. I’m bursting with plans and ambitions I cannot realize because they require me to step outside. I’m filled with restless longing, twitching with it, sick with it. And it’s just so hot out there, so ugly, so barren, that the only choice is to stay inside and keep dying.

This is the phase of the summer where I turn desperate because it hits me that this is my life and I’m wasting it in hiding. That this is my life and I’m living it in my own personal Hell on Earth.

I really need to get out of this town.