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Jan. 24th, 2013 @ 05:52 pm Batman vs Iron Man
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I watched both Iron Man movies this week for the first time. I know, bad geek! The thing is, with three kids I don't get a lot of opportunity to get out to see movies in the theatre, and renting is getting increasingly difficult as all the rental places go slowly out of business. I finally got to see the Avengers movie after the husband got it for Christmas, and now I'm working my way back to see all the origin movies that go with it.

I went into Iron Man expecting a superhero movie, and found that's not what I got at all. That's neither a good thing or a bad thing, it just... is. Once I adjusted my expectations, I found there's a lot to admire in Iron Man and Marvel's unusual take on what is essentially a hero's journey.

It also brought home to me how much I prefer Iron Man to Batman. No, I know, some of you will be reeling at this revelation. It's ok, just take a few deep breaths. I have some rather mixed and complex feelings about Batman, and how much I enjoy him varies greatly depending on which version of him you're dealing with. As for Iron Man... well...

Marvel and DC have a lot of "like" characters, sometimes because they're pulling from the same tropes and stock characters, and sometimes because they're directly copying each other. The combination of the two means that an awful lot of Marvel characters have a DC counterpoint, and vice versa. On paper, Iron Man and Batman are very, very similar characters. The whole "genius billionaire playboy philanthropist" thing, both mercenaries who fight on the side of justice using their brains and their clever gadgets. They're handled very differently, though, and for me, this is what gives Iron Man the edge.

For one thing, it's much easier to believe Tony Stark as a genius because we see him working at it. We watch him figure things out, tool around with gadgets, create. Bruce Wayne just kind of already has everything imaginable in his batbelt, and for all we know he's just buying it all from Stark Industries. He's meant to be a brilliant detective, but he can't figure things out too far ahead of his audience, so for the most part he comes across as being overly prepared more than he does a genius. (Although I do want to know how he got a Tardis batbelt. You know that thing has to be bigger on the inside in order to always have just exactly the right gadget for every moment.)

I also, for the most part, find Tony Stark to be a more complex character with more personality than Bruce Wayne. Bruce is broody and... uh, broody. In order to keep him dark and mysterious, the audience is kept at a distance, never really allowed to see what makes him tick. By contrast, Tony is a character we might not always like or even sympathize with, but we understand him. There are layers to him, and while most of the other characters in his world may not get to see much beyond the sarcastic exterior, the audience is invited to see him when he's alone, to really get to know him in his many aspects. I tend to be very character driven, so I'll forgive a lot of story issues if I feel I'm connecting with the character, and "but he's awesome and can do everything!" just doesn't cut it for me.

I think a lot of this really boils down to the difference in the way Marvel and DC approach storytelling, and I'll be the first to admit that while I'm not a Marvel fangirl, I do tend to prefer their methods. Don't get me wrong, Marvel has told some incredibly stupid stories and I don't think they're any better at dealing with minority characters in any respect, but there seems to be more room for complexities in their world, and I appreciate that.
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Black Cat
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Date:January 25th, 2013 02:10 am (UTC)
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I do like a well thought out opinion! I found your reasoning very convincing.

You're not a bad geek at all. You may run a bit late on watching the movies, but you think about them plenty.
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Date:January 25th, 2013 07:54 am (UTC)
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Heh, the truth is I probably overthink most things. The poor husband often has to put up with my ramblings about whatever movie or book I finished a day or two previous.
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Date:January 25th, 2013 10:03 am (UTC)
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Always be Iron Man!
100% with you on this one. I love Iron Man the character, and the movies are among my all time favorites. I am stoked for the third installment.

Batman is great, but I've always thought he's a mentally ill character. I've heard/seen plenty of others refer to him as "a tortured soul". I see only 2 happy endings for Batman. He stops being Batman and gives Bruce Wayne a chance at a full happy life (HEA ending - not too satisfying IMO). Or they delve into the mental illness, he does serious therapy, integrates himself, and then can grow into being a hero (who couldn't be "the Batman" and would need to be a different hero altogether that everyone knows is really Bruce Wayne).

Iron Man is a nickname for Tony Stark when he puts on "the suit". He wears no mask.
Batman is a completely separate entity from Bruce Wayne. In fact, Bruce Wayne seems to be more of a thin disguise the longer he stays Batman.

Iron Man has a steady long term relationship (once he pulls his head out of his ass).
Bruce Wayne has a butler and the various Robins. I'm not sure he can even manage more than 3 dates with a woman in a row. Any woman that he could be serious with dies.

Tony Stark has a sometimes cantankerous relationship with the military/government/law, but he DOES have a relationship. I'm not sure they ever explored it in the comic (been YEARS since I read them), but I definitely pick up on the fact that Tony is answerable for his actions with or without the Iron Man suit on.
Batman is basically an outlaw whom some of the police trust.

Tony will kill someone, and no weapons are off the table. It's not his first choice, but he will use lethal force if lives are in immediate danger.
Batman goes to great and elaborate lengths to avoid killing anyone at almost any cost. "No guns". If he does kill someone, breakdown and/or major brooding is imminent.

Don't get me wrong, I do love Batman too, but I'd far rather BE Tony Stark.

Batman has arguably the greatest nemesis ever. The Joker is Batman with a hairs breadth of difference, and vice versa. Batman is a far darker and twisted story/character than Iron Man. That makes for some compelling reading, but I think it left DC in a quandry. To explore Batman's character is to realize he's not a hero in some ways. On some level, he acts as he does and puts all these rules/regs around himself so he doesn't become like The Joker. He saves others only in order to save himself. To shine a light on his full character would reveal many dark, nasty, twisted things. Not something you can sell easily to kids' parents. I was always surprised they didn't give the Batman character to the Vertigo line to do a fully adult version of his story. That would be something I would have gone and out bought in a heartbeat.

And wow I just wrote a lot! Back to bed for me. Night :)