In honour of DC swinging for the fences this week with the highly anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it made sense to look at the best of the best in the genre. There are so many superhero movies out there, of varying quality, but which one stands tall as the best of the best? Now I could answer this on my own, but I’m just one man, with bias and opinions just like the next person. So, I called upon some of my fellow geek friends for another edition of 1Up Multiplayer.
The five of us would take it upon ourselves to work through a 16 movie tournament to determine the best modern superhero movie. Three votes would send a movie to the next round, any less and it’d be eliminated. Each person would have a chance to give their reason why (though for the sake of article size I’ve cut some of the responses for matchups that were won definitively). The structuring of this tournament was inspired by The Screen Junkies, who used the IMDB ratings of movies to determine their seeding.
A few other things to note before we start. This is based off of modern superhero movies, to which the cut-off is 2000. Movies like Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman were ineligible. I also made a ruling to only include live action movies, eliminating both Big Hero 6 and The Incredibles (who would have made it off of their IMDB rating – I plan to cover these two in a future piece though) and finally, the seeding was decided before the release of Deadpool. Interestingly, based off its current IMDB rating it would have been seeded at the 2 spot, which may have shaken up the tournament somewhat.
Before we begin, I would like to thank Dylan, Jareth, Melissa and Steve for giving their time to take part in this edition of 1Up Multiplayer. I know making some of these decisions were rather painful, so hopefully the end result was worth it! And for everyone else, it’s interesting to see who of our opinions are most in line with yours.
#1 The Dark Knight [versus] #16 Iron Man 3
Steve: The Dark Knight, because it was a great sequel to Batman Begins, continuing the story in Nolan’s more grounded setting. Plus it had one of the best villains in a superhero movie, with Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker. Though I probably did enjoy Iron Man 3 more than some, it’s story didn’t really seem to have any continuation in the MCU, with the movie’s events seemingly forgotten about in Age of Ultron.
Trent: Probably the easiest of the first round matchups. The Dark Knight is more than deserving of the number one seed. Featuring standout performances across the board and a captivating story, Nolan’s second Bat-movie is phenomenal on its own ground. Iron Man 3 just didn’t hit the mark even ignoring the base-breaking Mandarin twist. Vote: The Dark Knight
Dylan: The Dark Knight and Iron Man 3 are almost polar opposites. The Dark Knight treats its source material with reverence, clearly adapting comic book events and characters while also changing them from the grounded nature of the film universe, these ideas are then supported by a phenomenal cast and crew. Iron Man 3 meanwhile is not only a mockery of its source material but highlights the worst elements of the superhero film genre; predictable plotting, thin narrative, and an exchange of threat and excitement for consequence free deus ex machina. The Dark Knight is clearly, on all levels, the better film.
Dark Knight wins 5-0
#8 Captain America: Winter Soldier [versus] #9 X-men: First Class
Melissa: This was a difficult one, as they were both great movies in their own way. Yet Xmen: First Class takes the win over Captain America: Winter Solider, purely for the fact that it offers depth into character development and lends context to the Xmen series, something you don’t often see in a superhero movie
Steve: Captain America: Winter Soldier. Though I did really enjoy First Class, in general I prefer the MCU movies over the Fox produced Xmen series. Winter Soldier was also just a great movie, a better one than The First Avenger and a cool continuation of the MCU, bringing a shakeup to the continuing story, especially if you follow other aspects of the cinematic universe, like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Trent: Xmen First Class was a great example of ‘rebooting’ a series (even though it’s all intertwined, it felt like a reboot) but it faces the unfortunate fate of going up against arguably Marvel’s best movie in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There’s very little that the Russo brothers did wrong with the Cap sequel, and it’s no surprise that after this they became the new leaders of the MCU. Vote: Captain America
Dylan: Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It is poor luck then that it is pitted against X-Men: First Class, one of the greatest superhero films period. There is very little that can be cited as a flaw in The Winter Soldier, almost nothing, but the same can be said for Fox’s X-Men prequel. What First Class brings is freedom from the shackles of the established MCU formula, a whole lot of fun with the powers of the X-Men and the film’s state as a period piece, and most importantly the performances of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto. The duo bring true emotion and gravitas to their roles, doing the impossible (as the X-Men so often do) and standing shoulder to shoulder with their predecessors as true embodiments of the characters.
Jareth: I’ve got to give it to Captain America. First Class was a return to form for the X-Men series and ultimately it comes down to which story is more appealing. Even though the story is less grand in scope, The Winter Soldier delivers the stronger punch and has a bit more to say.
Captain America: Winter Soldier wins 3-2
#4 The Avengers [versus] #13 X2
Melissa: The Avengers got everything right for their introduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Amazing CGI? Check. An A-List cast that will charm their audience? Check (I’m looking at you, Tom Hiddleston). Whilst Marvel had had a few films leading up to the introduction of The Avengers, this film was where people really sat up and took notice of the MCU.
Trent: Both of these movies should be seen as legacy movies when we look back at the superhero genre. X2 helped show what the genre was capable of in its modern infancy, while The Avengers brought to life one of the most difficult concepts: Solo heroes coming together on the big screen and working. I’m not as big a fan of The Avengers movies as most, but what they managed to accomplish here shouldn’t be ignored. Vote: The Avengers
Dylan: The Avengers on its first viewing is one of the most fun experiences I’ve had in a cinema. Its power may wane on subsequent viewings as the thrill of the event gives way to a critical eye but it still holds up as a good film. Conversely X2 was fine on its first viewing but only got better with subsequent viewing, or maybe I was just old enough to appreciate its mature themes more. Still, on the weight of that first Avengers viewing, propelled by the clever years long marketing, buoyed by Joss Whedon’s incredible wit, the Avengers was a superhero event for the ages.
The Avengers win 5-0
#5 Guardians of the Galaxy [versus] #12 Avengers: Age of Ultron
Melissa: This was a slightly difficult decision, given that GotG resembles Avengers in many ways. However, given GotG’s sheer absurdity and out-there awesomeness (there’s a talking tree, I mean really), means it wins hands down.
Steve: Guardians of the Galaxy. Following the first Avengers movie, Age of Ultron was a little disappointing, I think only because expectations were so high. But while going into Guardians of the Galaxy and not expecting anything, it was surprising to see such a fun movie with a great cast and a cool soundtrack.
Dylan: Avengers: Age of Ultron is by no means bad. That description in itself is quite telling. After the success of its predecessor and the introduction of the incredibly popular villain Ultron the film was always going to be profitable, this however seems to have come at the expense of the first film’s magic. An overcrowded cast, overstuffed story, and behind the scenes creative/corporate conflict turned what could have been another critical hit into a film that was just okay. Guardians of the Galaxy meanwhile, a new film with a risky premise, went in the other direction as one of the finest entries in Phase Two of the MCU. A tight cast brimming with charisma and charm turn what could have been a stale sci-fi flick into a romping space adventure. Sure, the plot is still pretty thin, but everyone is having so much fun along the way it hardly seems to matter.
Guardians of the Galaxy wins 5-0
#2 Dark Knight Rises [versus] #15 Spiderman 2
Melissa: Let’s be honest here: The Spiderman trilogy with Toby Maguire was not a good time. There are so many reasons why Spiderman 2 was wrong, but let’s just leave it by saying that the Dark Knight Rises is one of my favourite superhero movies to date, from the acting to the cinematography and everything in-between.
Steve: Dark Knight Rises. To be honest, this one is mainly because it’s fresher in my mind than Spiderman 2. But, remembering back, I did prefer the first Toby Maguire Spiderman movie over the second.
Trent: The final Nolan movie has its fair share of problems for sure, but it is a strong final act to one of the best film trilogies out there. But those problems stack up compared to a fun and more well rounded Spiderman 2, which built upon what worked in the first Toby Maguire movie and went to work on improving it all around. Do I have to hand in my Bat-fandom card for this vote?
Dylan: I’ve had an up and down relationship with Spider-Man 2. I loved it as a kid, grew to dislike as a teenager, and now in adulthood I have grown to love it again. The Dark Knight Rises is full of all the things I love about Christopher Nolan’s DC Comics films; it is dark and serious and unique to this film an epic sense of finality. Spider-Man 2 though feels like its ripped straight from the pages of a comic book and is the rare example of a middle chapter being superior to those around it. It’s funny, it’s delightfully campy, it has great action and surprising heart. The Dark Knight Rises is a film you can watch now and then and love it but Spider-Man 2 can be watched whenever, where ever, and delivers an incredibly fun time each time.
Jareth: Dark Knight Rises was a great conclusion to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it had a great mix of compelling villains and an interesting story surrounding the retirement and return of Batman. The conflict between Bane and Batman throughout the movie makes it a winner for me.
Dark Knight Rises wins 3-2
#7 Iron Man [versus] #10 Kick Ass
Melissa: Whilst my boyfriend tried to convince me that Iron Man is a brilliant film, Kick Ass is one of my favourite movies of all time. The quirky superhero film wasn’t a cinematic hit, but its gory violence and ridiculous humour made it a cult classic and wins me over every time.
Steve: Iron Man, because the movie’s popularity kick started the whole MCU. Not only did it introduce Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, it also introduced characters like Phil Coulson and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Trent: The movie that started the MCU versus a Mark Millar classic brought to life. The quality of the second Kick Ass shouldn’t be held against it, but the original Iron Man movie did everything right and Downey’s performance took a B-grade superhero and turned him into one of the most iconic. Vote: Iron Man
Dylan: Kick-Ass didn’t really have a comparable rival until the release of Deadpool. Others have tried to emulate it but none have succeeded as much as the original film did. With its ultraviolence and humour blacker than the void of space it was not your average superhero movie and it revelled in its own moral darkness. Its inspirations seems to be similar to Frank Miller’s for the comic book The Dark Knight Strikes Again, it takes a look at the popularity of dark and realistic superhero films and pushes it to the nth degree. Iron Man is a great film, one of the best from the MCU and its legacy is shaping superhero films to this day, but compared to the absurdity and uniqueness of Kick-Ass it pales as safe and familiar.
Jareth: Robert Downey Jr is Iron Man. Plain and simple. Not only is this by far the best we see of Iron Man but it’s just a fun movie that set the standard for all Marvel movies to come.
Iron Man wins 3-2
#3 Batman Begins [versus] #14 Ant-Man
Melissa: Batman Begins was our first introduction to Christian Bale as Batman and Christopher Nolan’s dark and gritty Gotham. Am I biased because Batman is my favourite superhero? Perhaps, but the cinematic presence that any Batman film has far outweighs Ant-Man’s importance.
Steve: This was a very close one, but I think Ant-man wins because of my interest in the MCU. Plus, Paul Rudd is always pretty funny and they introduced an interesting version of Hank Pym, with a background as a cold-war hero.
Trent: Ant-Man was a great little (ha) movie. Despite losing Edgar Wright as director it turned in a fun, inoffensive movie that stood well against the disappointing Age of Ultron. But it doesn’t match up well at all with Batman Begins. Stronger hero story, stronger villains and a generally better film. Of the three Nolanverse Batfilms this is arguably Batman at his Batman-iest, and that’s always a good thing.
Dylan: Batman Begins proved for the first time in the modern era, perhaps the first time period, that superhero films can also be great films. Artistically brilliant and with uniquely fleshed out characters, Bruce Wayne is so thoroughly examined that Batman doesn’t appear until an hour into the film, Christopher Nolan took the already popular Batman mythos and translated it to screen as a broadly appealing action/crime drama. Ant-Man, by a similar token, is an action/crime comedy starring a criminal superhero (albeit one on the side of redemption). Ant-Man reversed the oft repeated Marvel formula by making a smaller story that truly revolves around its characters, this breath of fresh air for the gradually stagnating MCU could not compete however with the film that launched the Batman trilogy juggernaut.
Batman Begins wins 3-2
#6 X-Men: Days of Future Past [versus] #11 Watchmen
Melissa: X-Men: Days of Future Past is the most recent flick in the series, and tackles a more complex storyline than previously seen in the Xmen series or other superhero films. Sure it had its faults, but its never easy having so many characters in the one movie, and Days of Future Past handled this well.
Steve: Days of Future Past. I really liked Watchmen, and though I liked the alternate history 80’s politics and the cynical analysis of the superhero genre, it isn’t really a fun superhero movie. Days of Future Past (like First class before it) had that alternate history aspect and while it had some dark moments, it still had some good silliness, like Quicksilver, time-displaced Wolverine and wacky time travel.
Trent: Watchmen should be commended for what it managed to achieve, and that was somehow translate a literary classic without sacrificing a lot of story or its look. It did just that, but the final result proved that not all stories translate word for word from paper to the screen. The X Men adaptation took more liberties, and ended up being a far stronger movie.
Dylan: X-Men: Days of Future Past and Watchmen both went in with the intention of not simply being inspired by the works from which their titles are derived but directly adapting those stories. Each generally does a great job of this, Days of Future Past features imagery that feels like it was ripped straight from the pages of a comic while Watchmen, quite literally, features page to screen reproductions of certain scenes and aesthetics. Of the two though Watchmen is the better film not only because of its adherence to the source material but because it was able to make the seminal graphic novel even better with its character tweaks while Days of Future Past minimalises certain characters like Kitty Pryde to the detriment of the overall product.
X-Men: Days of Future Past wins 4-1
#1 Dark Knight [versus] #8 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Trent: To me this could arguably be the finals matchup. The fact Captain America 2 is the #8 seed doesn’t sit right with me, but that’s the nature of the ranking system. As much as I’ll sing the praises of The Winter Soldier, The Dark Knight does just about everything Cap does but better here. Winter Solider as a character is good in his role, but he’s not Heath Ledger Joker, or even Aaron Eckhart Two-Face. This is an early heavyweight battle but the #1 seed makes it through for me.
Steve: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In this case, The Winter Soldier comes out on top for me because of the re-watchability. I recently re-watched both these movies and just enjoyed The Winter Soldier better (most likely my Marvel bias.). I also really enjoyed that it was a spy thriller set in the MCU and it really highlighted Captain America’s super soldier abilities.
Melissa: The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Solider are both fantastic movies, making this a hard choice. But let’s be honest here, what movie can actually top the Dark Knight? Brownie points have to be given to The Winter Soldier though for being a major player in shaping the MCU universe, and also the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series (got to admire that intertwined plot!).
Jareth: Both films deal with similar concepts and are both fantastic movies by their own rights. It’s tough to pick between these two, but ultimately I have to give it to Captain America: Winter Soldier. It’s a slightly more cohesive story than The Dark Knight and a great political thriller. The ending with Two-Face feels a little tacked on and rushed which tips the edge to Cap.
Dylan: Arguably The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are the two best films put out by DC Comics and Marvel studios, respectively. Each works as a standalone endeavour and as part of a larger series, they both feature engaging and well defined character arcs, the action is incredible, and generally the cast and crew do an excellent job. The Dark Knight edges out its competitor though for the weightiness of its themes. That is not to say that Winter Soldier with its story about international politics and fear versus security is light viewing but The Dark Knight can rest on the laurels of its main philosophies. As well as being very enjoyable and well made it engages with viewers intellectually about ideas of fate versus chance, the law versus vigilantism, and especially mercy versus murder.
The Dark Knight wins 3-2
#4 The Avengers [versus] #5 Guardians of the Galaxy
Trent: Crazy to think Guardians has to survive both Avengers movies to make it to the finals. Avengers had high expectations and blew the minds of the public. Guardians is a property that shouldn’t have worked but did because of the quality of said movie. But I don’t think The Avengers holds up as well on repeated viewings, where as Guardians continues to be a little more interesting, funnier and even has a better soundtrack. The action in The Avengers is stronger, but if you ask me which one I’d watch right now, I’d say Guardians in a heartbeat.
Steve: Guardians of the Galaxy. Again because of how fun it was. Also, because it explored the cosmic aspect of the MCU and continued the meta-story with Thanos. Although, I did prefer Loki in the Avengers as a villain over Ronan in Guardians.
Melissa: This is a really difficult decision as The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are similar in so many ways – we’ve all seen the articles demonstrating that they basically have the exact same movie poster. But Guardians takes the win for me, as the little unique details make it different from the standard superhero flick. The recipe of Chris Pratt + humour + a talking raccoon and a talking tree = a winning combination.
Dylan: Neither The Avengers nor Guardians of the Galaxy is particularly excellent. Both are enjoyable, certainly, but neither really aspires to the grand heights of other well received superhero films. The Avengers comes out just on top of Guardians of the Galaxy, emphasis on the just, courtesy of Joss Whedon. It’s easy to see how The Avengers, with anyone else at the helm, could have been a flat and lifeless flop but Whedon brings a real humour to the proceedings. James Gunn brings a humorous flare to Guardians as well but it is perhaps disadvantaged by the lack of preceding appearances by its characters in other films. It will be interesting to see how Guardians 2 compares to Avengers: Age of Ultron in this manner.
Guardians of the Galaxy wins 4-1
#2 Dark Knight Rises [versus] #7 Iron Man
Trent: I love Batman and I love both how the villains are used in Rises, but it has plenty of flaws. And ultimately the flaws present in Iron Man detract from the movie less than the flaws in Rises. It’s a tough call but I’ve got to give the nod to the start of the Iron Man story rather than the end of Batman’s.
Steve: Iron man. Again because it gave rise to the MCU. Plus, I wasn’t a fan of how Bane turned out to be just a henchman, though I’m just nitpicking here.
Melissa: Whilst Iron Man was the beginning of the MCU as we now know it, the Dark Knight Rises was a thrilling end to an epic trilogy. Sure it had its faults, but I’d take Dark Knight Rises over Iron Man any day.
Jareth: Between the two Iron Man is a more cohesive film. Dark Knight Rises is a little big for its own good and it suffers as a result, compared to the smaller in the scope but ultimately better film.
Dylan: When analysing The Dark Knight Rises and Iron Man the most immediately apparent point of conflict becomes that an ending is pitted against a beginning. Iron Man was not only the first film in its franchise but the launch pad for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Dark Knight Rises was already held aloft by two excellent films in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Both films also have their narrative flaws with conveniences glossed over and contrivances abounding. But with The Dark Knight Rises being a true finale to a series it had an innate excitement, all bets were off. Generally there are rules in franchise films; you know certain characters will live, you know that the bad guys will lose and so on. The Dark Knight Rises had none of this and seeing just where these characters we had fallen in love with would end was a treat in and of itself, that it was bolstered by Christopher Nolan’s typically excellent direction and amazing villains in Bane and Talia al Ghul is but a plus.
Iron Man wins 3-2
#3 Batman Begins [versus] #6 X-Men: Days of Future Past
Trent: Christopher Nolan’s first round with the iconic superhero Batman might not be as highly touted as his sequel, but Begins is such a wonderfully crafted superhero origin story that hits all the mark. The execution of such a complex concept in Days of Future Past deserves plenty of praise, but Batman Begins is just a better executed film, even if I wish Scarecrow wasn’t defeated by a taser…
Steve: X-Men: Days of Future Past. Like the rest of these choices, this was very close but it came down to the high concept sci-fi stuff in Days of Future Past, with the time travel and resetting the X-men timeline.
Melissa: Batman Begins was the first chapter in the amazing cinematic journey that is the Christian Bale Batman trilogy. Whilst I feel that the second and third films are better than Batman Begins, it still wins out over X-Men: Days of Future Past. This is only because I feel that the sheer number of X-Men films have led to a bit of exhaustion, and that the plot began to take on a mind of its own and spiral a little in Days of Future Past.
Jareth: As great a first chapter as Batman Begins is, there’s more to X-Men: Days of Future Past. There’s a broad scope of ideas and characters, with bigger action, bigger consequences across multiple time periods but it never hurts itself in the process. There are so many hard decisions to make, and this is one of them, but I’m giving it to Days of Future Past.
Dylan: In terms of content Batman Begins and X-Men: Days of Future Past represent the extremes of the superhero subgenre. One is a grounded story about a single man taking on terrorists and the mob. The other is a time travelling adventure featuring super powers and killer robots. As representatives of the realistic style of superhero films and the more fantastical style each excels. Batman Begins might just edge out X-Men though in terms of character evolution; the latter does feature some movement but has its focus on amazing special effects whereas Batman Begins puts the characters’ personal journey first, using its action sequences as a vehicle to move them forward.
Batman Begins wins 3-2
#1 Dark Knight [versus] #5 Guardians of the Galaxy
Steve: Guardians of the Galaxy. This was a very hard choice, but I chose Guardians because of the re-watch value. I also re-watched Guardians of the Galaxy again and preferred it to Dark Knight.
Melissa: Man this was a really really difficult one, as both of these movies have left their own stamp on the cinematic superhero scene, as well as being just damn good movies. However, I have to go with my instincts and pick The Dark Knight on this one. Whilst GotG gave us some humour, The Dark Knight was the gritty Batman film we never knew we needed. I’m not sure if any other superhero movie will hold such a special place in fans hearts as this one.
Trent: Considering how vastly different these two movies are it is hard to weigh up the positives and negatives of each. I love Guardians of the Galaxy and everything that movie accomplished. But when you look at what The Dark Knight is, as a film, it delivers a captivating story across several fronts. Both movies do what they set out to do well, but The Dark Knight does those things better.
Dylan: The heroes of Guardians of the Galaxy are easily the film’s greatest point while its treatment of the villain, Ronan the Accuser, a fan favourite character in the comics, is easily the worst elements. A complex and noble soldier is reduced to a zealous minion, stripped of his many interesting dimensions. Contrarily the Joker as portrayed in The Dark Knight is one of cinema’s greatest villains, a fitting title given that he is also one of the greatest from the world of comic books. Though different from the gleeful maniac found within the pages of Batman, the Joker is style a mysterious force of chaos, not only bringing his unique brand of murder, torture, and terrorism to the streets of Gotham but the hearts and minds of its citizens. Likewise the fall of Harvey Dent from white knight to tragic villain is truly epic as over the course of a single man we see a good man turn not evil but mad, broken by the city and the Joker. The old saying says that a hero is only as good as his villains so, considering this, The Dark Knight is the superior film.
Dark Knight wins 4-1
#7 Iron Man [versus] #3 Batman Begins
Steve: Iron Man. I think I prefer Iron Man as an origin story over Batman Begins, only because Batman’s origin has been told many times in different media.
Melissa: So up until now I’ve voted against Iron Man. It was originally opposing Kick Ass, one of my favourite movies, and then went on to defeat Dark Knight Rises, which is as epic a superhero movie as ever. But I’m doing a 180 on this vote, and am willing to admit the sheer brilliance of this film – which largely depends on Robert Downey Jr. He took a character that should’ve hated by all, and turned Tony Stark into a likeable and charismatic hero. The fact that he has no powers only adds to the relatability factor (as relatable as a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist is)
Trent: Two origin movies for each comic franchise’s favourite billionaire playboys without superpowers. Robert Downey Jr made it next to impossible to picture anyone else in the suit but him. Even if you loved Christian Bale, he never owned the role in that way. But as far as a singular movie goes, I feel the Batman origin here is stronger than the Iron Man origin, and it comes down to the villains. Obadiah is an interesting enough character until he gets into the suit, then he becomes very cliché. Compared to Neeson’s work as Ra’s Al Ghul and Murphy’s job as Scarecrow, it becomes a no contest in that area for me. Batman Begins wins off the back of its villainy.
Dylan: Iron Man and Batman Begins are very similar films. Each is an origin story. Each features a rich playboy who, after experiencing trauma, uses technology to fight crime. Each takes its time to establish the man behind the mask before presenting the superhero proper. They differ in their approach in ways that typify the Marvel / DC divide, namely that one takes a sombre and serious approach while the other tackles its subject matter much more light heartedly. It is the stronger plot of Batman Begins that has it rise above Iron Man. The significant differences in the plots comes from two areas; Batman Begins is much more sprawling in the amount of time it observes (it covers the to date lifetime of Bruce Wayne) and the villains, Ra’s al Ghul and the Scarecrow, are much more formidable and driven that Obadiah Stane.
Jareth: It’s hard to pick between Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark. They’re both great origin films and while neither are perfect I have more fun watching Iron Man, and as a result I’m more likely to rewatch it.
Iron Man wins 3-2
#1 The Dark Knight [versus] #7 Iron Man
Melissa: Everything I’ve said in the previous rounds illustrates why I have chosen The Dark Knight over Iron Man. Dark Knight is the ultimate superhero movie, and is a special film for so many fans. The portrayals of Christain Bale’s Batman and Heath Ledger’s Joker were the best versions of these characters to hit the screen, and will forever be regarded by some as the best versions ever. Christopher Nolan’s dark and gritty Gotham set the perfect tone for the this film, and everything about this movie (from action sequences to plot and dialogue) was fantastic. Coming before the superhero boom, The Dark Knight saw Batman become more popular than ever before, put superhero films on the map as films that could be ‘good’ as well as true to its characters, and broke box office records worldwide. The Dark Knight is so many things to so many people; to me it’s one of my favourite films, and the obvious winner of this Superhero film knockout.
Trent: I’ve tried not to let my bias show through this series and compare the films objectively. But I am a Batman fan first and foremost. It was the superhero I grew up on and wanted to be. And when it comes to film, I’ve never been more enthralled with a superhero story like I was when I saw The Dark Knight. Everything in this movie clicks. Even on countless rewatches I’m drawn into the heightened tension and threat both Gotham and Bruce Wayne faces. No disrespect to Iron Man, but it is no Dark Knight, a movie that might not be your typical superhero romp, but is the pinnacle of the genre. When the biggest complaint people can throw at a movie is they don’t like one of the actor’s voice, you know there’s plenty right with it. There’s so many memorable scenes but the sum is even greater than those parts.
Steve: This was again a hard one to pick, but my Marvel bias won this one. Also, once again because it kicked of the MCU and Robert Downey Jr. ‘is’ Iron Man. And being very nitpicky, Dark Knight is a little long.
Dylan: When it came out Iron Man was greeted very warmly. Charged with a charismatic portrayal from Robert Downey Jr. and some witty writing it epitomised the Marvel spirit; it was fun, it didn’t take itself too seriously, it had flashy action and quotable lines. In every respect it was a success. That said, on its release The Dark Knight wasn’t just hailed as the greatest superhero film made to date, a title many regard it as still holding, but as a fantastic crime epic generally speaking. The story of The Dark Knight is sprawling. Aesthetically it is diverse. Its cast of characters is diverse, wide spread, and yet not spread too thin; each has their own personality and their own arc. To that end its central characters undergo massive transformations (literally in Harvey Dent’s case) as they bounce around a plot that doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Events don’t just happen in The Dark Knight, they are directly caused by the actions, reactions, and observations of the major players; whether through the carefully orchestrated plans of the heroes of the chaos of the Joker. In all elements The Dark Knight is a film for the ages. Thrilling and intelligent it is in a league of its own and is, categorically, the best superhero film of all time.
Dark Knight wins 4-1
I know to go through all that and end up with the #1 seed winning might not be the biggest surprise, but one thing I and some of the others within the 1Up Multiplayer team noticed was how this kind of format really makes you think about each movie on its own merits. Why does x appeal to you more than y.
And to be honest, I was surprised with how tight some of these matchups were. At one point I genuinely thought The Dark Knight was going to be knocked out in the second round when the initially tally had Winter Soldier up 2-1 until the final two both voted for Batman. I had made a point to try and pick people on both sides of the DC v Marvel debate because when you grow up with a brand its only natural to prefer one to the other (even if none of us are blind fanboys to one side). At the end of the day I feel the best movie truly did win, but it didn’t get there without a fight, and who knows what these brackets might look like in five years time?