The Avengers arrives in theaters and brings Iron Man, Thor and Captain America together to battle a great evil force. The reviews – so far – have been great, and the film promises to kick off summer in a big way.

But this isn’t the movie that I’m most excited about this summer. Not by a long shot. My most-anticipated movie of the summer is The Dark Knight Rises – the eagerly-anticipated final chapter in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.

Fellow Screen Ranter Rob Frappier previously wrote about the 5 reasons he is more excited about The Avengers than TDKR, and I jumped at the chance to give a counterpoint. Here’s my list of 5 reasons I’m looking forward more to Batman returning to the big screen than I am about The Avengers.


I haven’t seen The Avengers and I assume that it will have a great story. But in many ways, it’s going to be an origin story more than anything else. The film has to establish the team coming together and working as one unit. Nolan’s Batman origin story was already told in Batman Begins. The director then IMPROVED upon that in the masterful follow up The Dark Knight. Who knows what will await viewers of this third film?

The Dark Knight ended with a thought-provoking climax as Batman made a decision that few others would be willing to make: Instead of revealing the true motivations of the late Harvey Dent, the Caped Crusader opted to paint himself as the villain so that the citizens of Gotham would still idolize their hero (Dent) and not have the unfortunate reality undermine their idealism.

Now, in this final chapter, it will be interesting to see how Batman can thrive as a hero even though the people of Gotham view him as a monster. This dichotomy – between Batman’s public persona and his private heroism– will likely set the stage for a great story about nobility and honor in the face of criticism and hatred.


If you put the cast of The Avengers together for a photo shoot, it would provide a great cover for GQ. If you put the cast of The Dark Knight Rises together for a photo shoot, it would include some of the finest actors working today.

There’s no arguing with the fact that The Avengers offers up a strong cast – with Robert Downey Jr. as the best of the bunch. But many of the other actors composing the cast are younger performers who haven’t established themselves as great actors quite yet – whereas the Christopher Nolan Batman films offer up one of the strongest casts ever in comic book movie.

Four of the main actors in TDKR (Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Marion Cotillard) have all won Oscars for their acting skills.  Additionally, the film’s supporting cast includes the massively-talented combination of Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Oscar-nominees Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway. This is an incredible cast – not only for a superhero movie, but for a film in general.


I have seen Captain America. And Thor. And Iron Man and Iron Man 2. And other than Captain America, I enjoyed all of them. Overall, the Avengers lead-in films have had something to offer audiences.

But none of their themes compares to The Dark Knight, which tried to be much more than a typical superhero film. Not only were the special effects great, but the story itself offered a thematic depth that other superhero movies haven’t yet matched. TDK wasn’t just about a hero fighting evil. It also spoke to the dichotomy between good and evil that exists in all of us, and focused on the Joker’s distorted view of human morality.

When a boatload of innocents faced off against a group of prison inmates and had to choose whether or not to sacrifice the other in order to survive, the movie forced audiences to think about their own visions of good versus evil. Let’s hope that Rises is half as thought-provoking and deep as its predecessor.


For some, Joss Whedon can do no wrong. The creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly has a hardcore fan base that has loved much of the work his done behind the camera. In addition to writing films like Cabin in the Woods, Whedon has directed episodes of Buffy, Angel and Firefly  and the film Serenity.

But it doesn’t compare to Christopher Nolan. Nolan has created a series of unforgettable films over the past dozen years. From 2000’s Memento to 2008’s The Dark Knight to 2010’s Inception, this director has created several masterful works. He knows how to develop strong stories, use special effects smartly, and show viewers a great time at the theater. That ability can’t be under-estimated.


From what I’ve seen of The Avengers so far in trailers and clips, it looks like their greatest nemesis will be Thor’s boring brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Admittedly I haven’t seen the film yet, so I’m not sure what Loki’s abilities look like or how much of an opponent he will be for the team of superheroes.

That being said, Batman’s nemesis in The Dark Knight Rises is Bane and the film’s trailers – especially the awe-inspiring latest one – have focused on this evil terrorist. From blowing up a football field full of players, to bringing Batman to his knees, this monster could be the greatest threat that Gotham has ever faced. And Tom Hardy, who is quickly establishing himself as an A-lister, seems to be great for the role.

Let’s remember that Batman’s previous enemy The Joker was portrayed by Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Academy Award for his unforgettable performance. Bane might not match up to that, but I think Hardy will create a great and memorable adversary. Case in point: people have already started parroting their favorite Bane quotes.


This Friday, The Avengers will likely open to massive box office numbers. But in a few months, I think people will forget it as they focus on the true superhero of the summer: Batman.

I’m far more excited for The Dark Knight Rises than I am for The Avengers. Here, again are my five reasons why:

  • The Story: A Climactic Final Chapter versus an Original Story
  • The Cast: GQ Photo Shoot versus some of our Finest Actors
  • The Themes: Profundity versus a Typical Superhero Story
  • The Director: Christoper Nolan versus Joss Whedon
  • The Villain: Bane versus Loki

Which movie are you looking forward to more: The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers?

Let me know in the comments and as always, make sure you follow me on Twitter @johnhanlon.