Heath McKnight: Obsessive Iron Man fan

Before I start my little op-ed about Iron Man and The Dark Knight, I want you all to know that Iron Man is indeed my favorite character. I had him tattooed on my right forearm almost five years ago, and Entertainment Weekly even featured me as their “Obsessive Fan of the Week” last year! I write for Advanced Iron (the #1 Iron Man fan site on the planet), and my love for the character stretches back over 20 years.

That said, Batman is my second favorite character (tied with Captain America), and Batman Begins was, for the longest time not only my favorite comic book movie, but one of my top 20 favorite films of all time. The Dark Knight somehow topped Batman Begins, and completely blew me away. It deserves all the money and (hopefully) awards it has (or will) earn.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I want to spend a little time talking about why, ultimately, I love Iron Man more than The Dark Knight. Understand that while I think TDK is a magnificent movie, and the musical score is infinitely better than the pedestrian soundtrack of Iron Man – ol’ Shell Head’s film wins the race (but only by a little bit).

So why do I love Iron Man more? I recently sat down, and thought about the best movies I’ve seen this past summer, and I was hard-pressed in deciding whether Iron Man or TDK was better – or if they were a tie for me. Due to a busy work schedule this summer, I could only see each movie once, but you know I’ll wear the DVDs out when they’re released. I could also watch only a handful of films, but I hear that Indiana Jones 4 stunk anyway.

So after thinking about both, even going so far as comparing stories (both are aces) and direction (two veteran indie filmmakers doing their best work).

  • Acting: Tie – you can’t get better than Robert Downey, Jr. and Heath Ledger.
  • Visual FX: Iron Man.
  • Music: The Dark Knight.
  • Villains: Sorry, Iron Monger, but Heath’s Joker scared the crap out of me, and he deserves an Oscar.
  • Cinematography: Matthew Libatique (Iron Man) and Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight) are both tops in their field, but I give the slight edge to Libatique.
  • Overall fun factor for me: Iron Man wins by the narrowest of margins.

After all that, I came to the conclusion that Iron Man was the best film.

What ultimately got me to that conclusion was my good friend, comic book creator Rich Koslowski. He is the creator of The 3 Geeks, and he recently commented on his blog:

“I did love it [The Dark Knight, but] I still liked Iron Man better. And the one main reason I think is that Iron Man was more well-rounded. Iron Man had the one thing the The Dark Knight did not… joy.”

That’s exactly what I was mulling over: joy. Don’t get Rich or I wrong, we both love the dark aspects of Batman (don’t EVER lose that and don’t EVER hire Joel Shumacher EVER again!), but we went for the “light” with Iron Man.

So there you have it. Even though I am a big-time Iron Maniac, had the movie stunk, or had it been just decent-to-good, TDK would’ve won, hands down. Trust me, I love Iron Man the character, but I don’t love being let down. I learned that years ago, when I’d get excited for upcoming movies, much like sports fans would get pumped up for the big game, only to be disappointed when the film opened (Jurassic Park being the exception). And believe me, I was obsessing about both of these films.

For me, ultimately, I just loved watching Iron Man fly around, dispatching bad guys. But don’t forget that I absolutely loved The Dark Knight. It and Iron Man are the top two best comic book movies I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to watch both films at least two dozen times on DVD before the year ends.

And one more thing: I think it’s great that TDK made over $520 million, and Iron Man, a minor, not-as-well-known Marvel superhero made more money than Indy 4. No one expected Iron Man to do as well as it did, but it certainly did.

I can’t wait for the next Iron Man and Batman films.