The DC vs. Marvel rivalry is among the oldest and fiercest in the entire entertainment industry. In fact, there isn’t a single facet of entertainment that either franchise has been unable to permeate be it comics, books, TV, film, even gaming. This Thursday at Midnight, the rivalry will be renewed as Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight Rises will do battle with Disney’s The Avengers for critical and commercial supremacy. Oh, and there will be some world records on the line as well.
The early reviews for Dark Knight Rises are beginning to surface, and if they’re any indication of the reception to follow, things are looking up for Christopher Nolan and co. The film currently holds a 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, with 31 out of 34 reviews being positive. A handful of prominent publications are claiming that Nolan has done the impossible in producing a third installment that lives up to the exceedingly high bar its predecessor set for it. A few are even ready to call the Marvel/D.C. feud in favor of The Dark Knight Rises, but not without some harsh words for its rival summer blockbuster.
In his review of Dark Knight Rises, Richard Corliss of Time writes:
“The Avengers is kid stuff compared with this meditation on mortal loss and heroic frailty. For once a melodrama with pulp origins convinces viewers that it can be the modern equivalent to Greek myths or a Jonathan Swift satire. TDKR is that big, that bitter — a film of grand ambitions and epic achievement. The most eagerly anticipated movie of summer 2012 was worth waiting for…The movie may not top The Avengers at the worldwide box office, but it is a far, far better thing — maybe the best, most troubling, assured and enthralling of all the superhero movies.”
Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter expressed a similar sentiment in his reaction:
“Big-time Hollywood filmmaking at its most massively accomplished, this last installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy makes everything in the rival Marvel universe look thoroughly silly and childish.”
The Dark Knight Rises will pick up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight in which Batman was forced to claim responsibility for the death of DA Harvey Dent in an attempt to protect his reputation of being a “champion of the people.” Batman is sent into exile by Gotham’s police force where he remains until the arrival of coldblooded terrorist Bane prompts his return.
While The Avengers boasts what is perhaps the most prominent troupe ever featured in a summer blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises will add a few new additions to an already stellar cast of its own. Anne Hathaway will introduce Catwoman to Nolan’s Batman franchise in the role of Selina Kyle, a cat burglar and an associate of Bane who establishes a relationship with Bruce Wayne. Marion Cotillard will play Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board, while Joseph Gordon-Levitt will join the cast as John Blake, a young, ambitious and idealistic cop who is promoted when Commissioner Gordon (reprised by Gary Oldman) sees that he could be a force for good in Gotham.
If The Dark Knight Rises is to compete with The Avengers on a commercial scale, it certainly has its work cut out. The Avengers not only holds the record for the biggest opening weekend in North America as well as boasting the position of third all-time highest grossing film (The Dark Knight holds the twelfth spot), it has made over a staggering $1.45 billion worldwide and generated $607 million domestically. Compare that with The Dark Knight‘s $1.01 billion and $533 million, respectively. In terms of opening weekend numbers? The Avengers holds the advantage in this category as well, generating $207 million to The Dark Knight‘s $158 million. If the stage weren’t already set enough, there also may be a bit of personal animosity between the two franchises, as The Dark Knight previously held the record for the single largest opening week making over $238 million before having that title ripped away by The Avengers. (All statistics obtained from Box Office Mojo)
While Nolan’s Batman may be commercially inferior to Disney and Marvel’s renowned superhero team, it’s safe to say that his recognition by the Academy most likely helps to console him, recognition that Joss Whedon and The Avengers most likely will not be experiencing come February. In addition to critical praise of Nolan’s cinematography and ability to explore deeper themes than your average, run-of-the-mill summer superhero movie, The Dark Knight received eight Academy Award nominations and took home two of them – Best Sound Editing while Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor for his legendary role of the Joker.
The Dark Knight will forever be cemented in the conversation for best superhero movie, and Warner Bros. hopes to duplicate that success with the highly-anticipated release of The Dark Knight Rises. In addition to competing with its outstanding predecessor, TDKR also faces some pretty stiff competition and extraordinarily high dollar count that rival Marvel’s The Avengers established just weeks ago. Only time will tell if the Dark Knight’s return will live up to the massive hype, though we can be certain all will be revealed this Friday as Nolan’s Batman trilogy reaches its epic finale.