Seriously, I’m asking: will Tropic Thunder, the much-hyped comedy starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Robert Downey Jr. (in black face, no less,) really have enough, well, thunder, to knock The Dark Knight out of its top spot at the box office on its one-month anniversary?

If you think about it, Tropic Thunder has a lot of the same things going for it that Dark Knight did:

A) Controversy. Dark Knight had the morose intrigue of Heath Ledger’s final cinematic turn as THE Joker of our time. Tropic Thunder has two major controversies surrounding it: Robert Downey Jr.’s stereotypical portrayal of an African-American, complete with black-face, and, what some “activists” are alleging is the film’s overly-cruel mockery of mentally challenged people. (Regarding Downey in black-face: as a part of that club, I have to say I’m fine with it. Tropic Thunder is a satire, not a spoof, meaning that it’s actually trying to say something right, by way of showing something wrong. And besides, I’m not a hypocrite: if it’s okay for Downey to do a role in iron-face, how can I complain when he does one in black-face?)

But will controversy be enough to fill theater seats? One can never be sure.

B) Buzz. You could probably file it alongside “controversy,” but the reality is that whether dependent on controversy, or independent of it, Tropic Thunder HAS been on people’s mouths for some months now. Combine that fact with the usual media blitz to promote a film–factor in Robert Downey Jr., whose star has gone supernova since Iron Man, and it all adds up to some pretty good momentum going into opening weekend.

C) A good film. Buzz can get a flick through opening night, but soon after, if the finished product isn’t up to snuff, people are going to start talking and word is going to get around. As it stands now, Tropic Thunder has a score of 72 on Metacritic (after 34 reviews), and an impressive 83% on Rotten Tomatoes (after 128 reviews)! (And Screen Rant‘s own Vic Holtreman liked it too!)

If audience reactions end up matching critical praise, the quality of Tropic Thunder will likely bring in a large quantity of this week’s movie-going public.

But again: enough of an audience to dethrone The Dark Knight after four weeks on top? If I have to make that call, I gotta go with the Joker’s philosophy: “Everything burns.” Dark Knight has proven to be a juggernaut, but with only the old and infeeble left to see it (a first time), the lure of newer, more light-hearted fare will prove too much for ticket-buyers to resist. C’est la vie.

What do you think: does The Dark Knight have enough box office muscle to hold Tropic Thunder down? Let us know what you think.