You know it’s coming — a super heavyweight championship — and it’s on for this summer.
Make your bets now in the mega-Smackdown between the SONY 3D reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man (July 3) and the third and final installment of Warner Bros. The Dark Knight Rises (July 20).
Timing is everything. Maybe it’s a game of superhero chicken, or maybe it’s just a coincidence that the San Diego Comic-Con is right Smack in the middle of both films (July 12-15).
It’s Ali and Frazier. Well, technically, it’s DC and Marvel and Sony and Warner Bros. Oh, and Batman and Spider-Man.
These two awesome franchises — both successful with critics and hugely so at the box office — mean to fight it out in the cool, air-conditioned movie palaces of our globally warmed summer. Expectations for each are as high as they can get, particularly for the new Batman film but increasingly for the new take on Spider-Man, thanks to some impressive trailers. Note that both are reboots. The Dark Knight Rises wraps up one three-film arc and The Amazing Spider-Man kick-starts another.
Just look at the two sets of posters the films released within days of each other — the downward-contemplating poses (above) and the black monochromatic shadows (below) — and you can see that they’re going for the same audience with the same pitch at the same time. Oh, yes, this matchup is one for the ages.
For The Dark Knight Rises that means continuing the darkly themed, grim and gritty, Gotham City that Batman lives in. For The Amazing Spider-Man, though, it means a turn away from the lighter tone and look of the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire trilogy that wrapped up a few years ago. We live in dark times, I guess, and both films are out to reflect that.
In Marvel’s Corner… The Amazing Spider-Man
The Untold Story
In The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an outcast high schooler who was abandoned by his parents as a boy, leaving him to be raised by his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). He’s a real teenager in this telling, confused, angry, girl-crazy — a kid with issues. His first high school girlfriend is Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who’s as smart as he is and probably a great kisser, too. Peter apparently will come across a mysterious briefcase that belonged to his father, sending him out to find the truth about his abandonment (quite a different scenario than in the comics or the previous films). This leads him directly to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father’s former partner. Before it’s over, of course, Connors will become The Lizard, Peter will become The Amazing Spider-Man, and fights will happen.
Here’s a bit of an interview from the aptly named director, Marc Webb:
There are certainly darker, more intense feelings in this movie. There is betrayal, there is tragedy, but there’s also humor and romance. So it’s a very complex bouquet of emotions, but what you have to tread on is what feels authentic and what feels real, and you have to earn those different emotions. There are moments of furiousness and gravity, absolutely. But are there moments of humor and levity and whimsy? Absolutely. Andrew was really great. He used this term to describe Peter Parker in Spider-Man and Spider-Man in particular: He’s a trickster. He was like “How would Spider-Man web this guy? He’d give him a wedgy or he’d do some awful graffiti.” There’s a punk rock quality to Peter Parker that’s really irreverent and fun, and that’s something that Andrew embodies in a way that we haven’t seen before. Certainly the materials that have come out have a darker sentiment or there’s a darker projection, but we’re very keen on staying loyal to the humor of Spider-Man.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
In DC’s Corner… The Dark Knight Rises
The Legend Ends
It’s a bold move, but this film is placed a full eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. Apparently, following the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman (Christian Bale) virtuously (or stupidly) assumes responsibility for Dent’s crimes to protect Dent’s reputation and is subsequently hunted by the Gotham City Police Department. Batman/Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham City, where he must discover the truth regarding the mysterious Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and stop the villain Bane (Tom Hardy), who plans to destroy the city and inflict serious damage upon nearly anyone who gets in his way. That would include Batman. Somebody’s gonna get hurt.
Here’s what director Christopher Nolan had to say to Entertainment Weekly about the six-minute IMAX screening that’s already been seen by some when it was attached to the last Mission: Impossible film.
My feeling, particularly on an action film, is you want to be thrown into a situation that somehow takes your breath away early in the film. I think rhythmically — you know, I view these films as pieces of music — if you start with a bit of a bang, it buys you more time to then calmly move into the story and the characters. We have a lot of characters in this film, a lot of people to introduce, a lot of catching up to do with the audience. So I think it was important to really throw something big on screen and then take our time.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
What To Expect
It’s another epic comic-book movie year, and this Smackdown has it all: Marvel vs DC, Sony vs Warner, and Nolan vs Webb.
Initially, fans seem to be anxiously anticipating every frame of The Dark Knight Rises while lamenting the need for such a fast reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man. But with every new trailer tease for Spidey, the new version seems less-and-less like the Sam Raimi version, no matter how well regarded that film was when it came out in 2002. Andrew Garfield will eventually be seen as a more faithful version of Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire ever was, and that may make a big difference.
It’s probably a good bet that both films are going to be seen by almost everyone eventually but it may turn out that The Dark Knight Rises will be the one that gets the most “must-see-now” box office. Then again, it’s a long, long time until July.
Both films will be blockbusters when it comes to ticket sales. How can they not be with the pedigree each brings to the fight? You have one director going out with a bang and another director coming in with one — both have something to prove to the fans and to themselves, and the studio cash to make it happen.
There’s probably more genuine suspense over The Dark Knight Rises. After all, that poster makes it look like Bane is walking away from a defeated and wrecked Batman and director Nolan has made it clear he wants to give his trilogy a real ending. Even if he kills Bruce Wayne/Batman in this final installment, it’s only a matter of rebooting the franchise with a different director and actor in a few more years and it’s Resurrection City. Clearly, whether the character dies or not, he’s apt to get very, very messed up.
Since Sony, Webb and Garfield are intent on launching rather than ending at least a three film arc together, it’s a safe bet that Spidey will prevail by the end credits in his re-launch. But maybe, at the end of the day, fans don’t want to see their beloved heroes crushed by brutal killing machines. Maybe they just want them to escape from close calls. At least that’s the way parents want their kids to see it, so it’s possible Spider-Man won’t look as grim and non-family to a part of the demographic.
Put Batman and Spider-Man in a cage match, though, and that’s different. The fans win, of course, but who are you most intensely interested in seeing? Vote in our poll and let us know. We’re five months and counting…