Oh yes! Here we go again! Movie Fight is back for it’s second edition and this particular one is quite interesting. Just to recap, last time I pit two box office powerhouses in 2009’s Avatar against this year’s Avengers Endgame. It was quite a close race, some of you probably thought it shouldn’t have been so but in the end, there was an obvious winner; feel free to check out that particular article if you haven’t already.
For the 2nd edition, I saw it best to have two majestic superhero movies of the 2000’s lock horns. I will be analyzing these films based on certain key factors and in the end, I’ll sum up the points and announce the results. Well, without further ado, it’s Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight vs. Sam Raimi’s Spider-man 2.
ROUND 1; ACTING & CHARACTER PERFORMANCES.
The character performances as well as the acting in Spider-man 2 were considerably bittersweet for me. On one hand, we have some well executed scenes especially in the 1st Act where you get to see the kind of life Peter Parker is living; trouble follows him like a shadow. Amidst all that you get some really heartfelt and relatable conversations between Spidey and the society he lives in; people are concerned about his demeanour and are trying to make him be a better version of himself. On the other hand, there is a substantial amount of campy dialogue that makes an audience member think he is watching a theatre performance and not a movie.
When it comes to The Dark Knight however, things are far much different and better; but not entirely. There is a lot tension in the film that is centered on the crimes that the Joker is committing all around the city of Gotham and to a sizable extent, the characters in the film feed off that tension to produce some very memorable and heartfelt performances. A good example of this is the scene where Harvey Dent threatens to kill Commissioner Gordon’s son. The kind of conversations that go on and their execution are quite riveting and so are various other scenes in the film.
This round goes to… The Dark Knight!
ROUND 2; FILM TECHNIQUES.
As an audience member who is enjoying what modern film-making has to offer, it’s quite easy to slate the editing and special effects in Spider-Man 2; the latter especially. In it’s defense, its a 2004 movie and back then visual effects weren’t as enhanced and more appealing as they are now. Inversely, considering how long ago it was made, I think you can cut it some slack, right? Well, I’d say yes!
However, I can’t say the same for the editing. There are various scenes that stayed on longer than they should have and vice versa. Additionally, some of the transition effects looked too cartoonish. The cinematography was bang average and the excessive dolly and zoom camera movements weren’t helping. The score I must say was great and enhanced certain scenes; classic Danny Elfman.
As far as the ‘Dark Knight’ is concerned, it had little to no blemishes with the film techniques. The direction is otherworldly; I mean, this is Christopher Nolan we are talking about here. The cinematography in the movie was extraordinary; every pan, every tilt, every dolly, every zoom, they all worked hand in hand with Hans Zimmer‘s superb score to bring out the best in every single scene as well as the characters playing in them.
This round goes to… The Dark Knight!
ROUND 3; STORY.
As the main characters of their respective films, Batman and Spider-man bear the heaviest weight as far as storytelling is concerned because the stories being told onscreen are centered around their lives.
In Spider-man 2, the plot pretty much revolves around a flawed character in Peter and his struggles to overcome the various challenges stacked against him. Spidey gets fired from his job at the Pizza outlet for being late, he has outstanding debts to pay to a colleague at the Daily Bugle, he is always late to his class at campus and his lecturer is threatening to fail him, he can’t pay his rent on time and is quite dodgy about it; I could go on and on with this.
As a viewer, you can’t help but empathize with him and as the film goes along, you root for him 100% as he wrestles with his demons from either sides of the character’s alter egos and eventually defeats them. Furthermore, the themes of heroism, selflessness and redemption (Dr. Octopus in the final Act) added more juicy flesh to the story for the audience member to consume.
The fact that The Dark Knight is widely considered as a crime drama film rather than just a superhero film speaks volumes about the story that was crafted around it. Gotham City, for a substantial portion of the film is at the mercy of a deranged, twisted and crafty villain in the Joker whose goal in the narrative is just to prove a point; that a champion of justice can indeed be corrupted. Heath Ledger’s character goes to unimaginable lengths to achieve this and it’s the latter that sets the tone for the story in the film.
Before this, Batman hadn’t faced a villain like the Joker; one who didn’t commit crime for material benefits but just for his own personal pleasure. The Joker was formidable. It even reaches a point where he is willing to give in to the psychopath’s demands and reveal his identity but Harvey’s deceptive decision stops him from doing so. At that moment, the good vs. bad conflict is quite solid and since of you want good to prevail, you tend to give more appreciation to efforts that Dent and Batman put in doing away with organised crime in Gotham. The themes of sacrifice and vengeance that manifest themselves in the storytelling is just the icing on the cake especially in the 3rd Act with Batman taking the fall for Dent’s murders.
This round was a tight one… and thus, I’d say it ends in a tie!
With a score of 2.5 to Spider-man 2’s 0.5, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight wins this fight! That said, thanks a lot for reading this lengthy piece, feel free to give your feedback about my content in the comment section below as well as notable movies that I should feature in this series going forward. God bless!