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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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