Runner-Up: The Dark Knight Rises
Two comic book films smashed,
beat, and blew-up the silver screen this year: Dark Knight Rises and The
Avengers. Both movies had over-the-top-explosions, epic battles, vixens
in tight leather, and box-office success, so we decided it best to take
a moment to reflect on the Caped Crusader and Earth's Mightiest Heroes
before handing out the title for 2012's Best Comic Adaptation.
Nolan's Dark Knight Rises wrapped up the trilogy to his interpretation
of Batman with more action, more characters, and bigger explosions than
its predecessor, The Dark Knight. Nolan was able to bring the story full
circle for a cohesive and complete feeling, tying Dark Knight Rises to
events that were put in motion during the the first film, Batman Begins.
There are even plenty of "I didn't see that coming" moments, which is
remarkable because by the third film the audience already knows most of
the loose ends Nolan has yet to resolve. Despite the pleasant plot
twists, the sheer amount of necessary resolution caused the film to
suffer from a break-neck pace. With high velocity storytelling and too
many characters to include, the result left most actors with a
less-than-meaningful impact-- a true shame when you consider all the
star-power in the cast. Tom Hardy's Bane is a chilling villain (not
nearly as menacing as Heath Ledger's Joker but about as close as one can
get) and Michael Caine brought a powerful performance as Alfred,
bringing a refreshing depth to the often overlooked role. Most
disappointing was the final bout between Bane and Batman, they slug it
out just like earlier in the film, only somehow Batman is stronger this
time. There were no gadgets, no new fighting techniques, no brains, just
Batman swinging really really hard (wasn't he trained by ninjas or
something?). Still, Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic film and has one of
my favorite endings to any super-hero movie (it makes sense!). Nolan
crafted a unique super-hero experience, one that carries depth and
emotional weight instead of spandex, one-liners, and special effects.
But does the lone cowl stack up against an entire team of heroes?
Best Comic Adaptation: The Avengers
Absolutely not. My fellow CBB contributor is being polite when it comes to The Dark Knight (Slowly) Rises. Both Nolan and Avengers director Joss Whedon had an unenviable task in front of them. While neither director made "The Greatest Superhero Movie of All-Time," only one of them effectively wrangled his ambitious project and soared.
While Diego brings up some solid points about how the third installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman comes full circle, his point doesn’t negate the fact that it feels like Nolan took the worst impulses of his otherwise exceptional filmmaking career and highlighted them. While TDKR awkwardly went for a French Revolution film by way of Batman, Whedon went for a straight-up superhero romp, one that used its exposition to set up punchlines while TDKR repeated class philosophies. The film played Whedon’s strengths in the best ways possible, being both intelligent, emotive, and wildly entertaining. There’s lots going on in The Avengers philosophically, but the movie was a blockbuster of ambitious entertainment first and a meditation on heroes second.
In addition, while Nolan tried to connect characters and themes in an effort to close out his own trilogy, Joss Whedon put five films, all by other directors, on his back and made it look easy. Movie making is tough, but that's real tough.
Lastly, and because this is comicBOOKbin.com: Which film is more useful for cultivating new readership? In terms of creating synergy between the films and the comics, Marvel Studios' dedication to their source material is more likely to continue to draw interest of all ages outside of the theater. A movie that appealed to not only teenage and adult comic book fans, but fans of great movies and stories of all ages and genders, Marvel's The Avengers was not only a great comic book adaptation, it was a true movie blockbuster in the tradition of the greatest. Realistic and powerful portrayals of fantastic characters such as Thor, Loki, Captain America, and the Incredible Hulk, made Marvel's The Avengers not only a fantastic visual ride, but an engaging and intelligent one as well. Marvel's The Avengers captured everything that is good about Marvel Comics' characters, style, and tone. On the other side, Nolan's closed-ended epic seems to have only amplified critical disdain for all things “comic book-y.” The film snobs love Batman on film, but they narrowly view it as the epicenter of the genre instead of a new wrinkle. Truly this was one film that powerfully lived up to the best of the Mighty Marvel Manner.