In the ultimate battle for superhero supremacy, who would win? The Avengers, Batman or Spider-Man?
We’ll know the answer that and many questions after the newest releases in each of these storied series hit multiplexes near you this summer. The gang at Marvel’s The Avengers have a jump on the competition, with their film coming out this Friday.
Come July, though, summer screens will be chock-full of your favorite heroes and villains when The Amazing Spider-Man swoops in on July 3 and The Dark Knight Rises, well, rises on July 20.
The Avengers has already made well over $200 million internationally and is expected to rake in $100+ million when it opens domestically on Friday.
The Dark Knight Rises, though, follows one of the highest-grossing films of all time, 2008’s The Dark Knight. The question will be whether Rises can earn the same numbers without Heath Ledger’s truly unbelievable portrayal of the Joker.
While the most recent set of Spider-Man films, starring Tobey Maguire, were box office hits, this new reboot could either fly high on the success of the franchise or put off potential audiences because it’s still “too soon.”
Who will win this battle royale? Only time can tell.
But whichever film does win the coveted “Super Summer Box Office Hero” award does have something to say about what audiences want from their films – that is because, despite the fact that these three films center on some of the most famous characters from comic book lore, hailing from two of the most storied homes of superhero stories (Marvel Comics and DC Comics), they are three very different movies, with three very different things to say about audience desires.
Let’s look more closely.
The Avengers is a buddy movie. The concept is convoluted by the fact that this set of “buddies” consists of six powerful superheroes who fight evil and struggle to get along. They don’t go on a road trip or try to buy booze for a party. But this film is
all about the relationship between the heroes and, despite the destruction that evil Loki surely hopes to inflict, The Avengers looks to be a light-hearted romp into superheroland. Expect snark from Mr. Snark and sass from Samuel L., but The Avengers is going to be a kick-ass bromance. And there is nothing wrong with that.
The Amazing Spider-Man, on the other hand, is something of the indie superhero. Indie because of gangly star Andrew Garfield of The Social Network and director Marc Webb, previously most well known for (500) Days of Summer. So, what happens when your favorite superhero becomes a hipster? Well, trailers and other early footage indicate that The Amazing Spider-Man will be pretty darn amazing, hipster or otherwise. And, in fact, Webb’s indie cred lends it less an air of plaid shirts and more a very distinct visual style that makes this Spider-Man stand out from not only its predecessors, but its 2012 peers. But are audiences ready for another Spider-Man, and will this very different take on the hero
under- or out-perform Mr. Maguire?
And then there’s The Dark Knight Rises, about as far from the bromance of The Avengers as you’re going to get. Rises is all about dark, grit and the depravities of the human soul. And, so far, this has all been awesome. Batman has, after all, always been one of those darker superheroes, fighting the insane and the insanely criminal rather than evil mastermind arch-enemies with superhuman powers. Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise has been one of the most successful film franchises in recent memory, and Rises will surely add some hefty weight to an already beloved (critically and popularly) series. But will it beat the above lighter fare, or is America all about the dark these days?
Each of these movies is (almost) guaranteed to make a killing at the box office – the only question mark might hang over The Amazing Spider-Man, though you can count me
for it. The critical reception and box office success of these films relative to one another, though, might have some very interesting comments to make on fan culture and film-viewing culture in America today, though. Let’s say The Dark Knight Rises kills The Avengers – then 21st century cynicism really has set in and it will serve as confirmation that maybe viewers want more than escapism (though I am not trying to claim that The Avengers is just escapism). Or, it might just be that a lot of viewers not otherwise into comics will turn out for Rises.
It will also be interesting to see if Marc Webb can propel any of his indie cred into a success for Spider-Man that separates it from other comic book fare. It might be hard to prove that empirically, but Webb’s take will likely feel different from most superhero movies in tone and could set a new paradigm for how to tell a fanboy story.
Let’s just say that, couple all these with The Hobbit in December, and this is going to be a pretty good year.