The upcoming battle between DC Comics’ Batman and Superman will be one of the most anticipated cinematic events of the year. The winner of this epic rivalry will not only determine the fate of the comic book industry but may also decide the future of the DC Comics universe as we know it. Who will reign supreme? Let’s examine the pros and cons of both Batman and Superman and come up with a definitive answer: who should win the battle of the superheroes?
Who Is The Mightiest Avenger?
Batman and Superman represent two of the most iconic superheroes of all time. While Batman has been a consistent presence in DC Comics since his debut in 1939, it was not until recently that the character acquired a truly definitive visual identity. Inspired by the dark and moody storylines that defined the early days of the Batman TV show in the 1960s, the upcoming Batman vs. Superman film will be an opportunity for Nolan to show off his unique take on the Caped Crusader. In fact, the film will be the first in a proposed trilogy that will serve as a conclusion to the Batman narrative. Along with the release of Batman vs. Superman, Warner Bros. will also release the next instalment, Batman Begins, in the following year.
Nolan’s Batman is a far cry from the cheerful playboy we know from the comic books. This dark and broody interpretation of the character is the result of a deliberate effort by Nolan and his team to bring the Batman mythos into the modern era. This dark and broody take on Batman was a conscious decision on the part of the filmmakers and will undoubtedly redefine the way we look at the Caped Crusader forever.
While Nolan’s Batman is undoubtedly the most iconic and influential character in the film, it’s Superman who’ll be taking the Hollywood by storm. Henry Cavil’s charismatic performance as the Man Of Steel in 2014’s Man Of Steel will no doubt secure his place as the ultimate hero for future Hollywood action-adventure films. This is already shaping up to be a competitive year for Superman. Not only does he have a new look and a new cinematic team helping him evolve as a character, but he’s also got a serious rival in the form of Batman.
But is Superman really the best superhero? Before we get into comparing the caped crusaders, let’s take a quick look back at some of the other heroes that have come before them.
The History Of Superhero Movie Triumph
The superhero movie genre can be traced back to the early 1930s, when it was still known as the ‘superhero cycle’ or ‘super-heroes-in-movies’. While early efforts failed to replicate the successes of silent films like the Mad Doctor, these superhero films paved the way for future triumphs. This came as a result of the combination of sound and colour, two revolutionary forms that have since defined the cinematic experience.
In fact, it was the combination of these two revolutionary factors that helped establish the superhero film genre as we know it. As a result, we can also trace the evolution of superhero movie genre back to the era of sound and colour, an era that is still revered as one of the greatest in cinematic history.
Why Should We Care About The Evolution Of The Superhero Genre?
As we’ve established, the evolution of the superhero genre can be attributed to the combination of sound and colour. But why should we care about this? What is the significance of this unique moment in cinematic history?
The combination of colour and sound created a truly unique environment for story-telling and creative experimentation that not even the most ardent film fans have been able to genuinely replicate. It’s a testament to the genius of the people who were there at the time, namely, the members of the Hollywood cinema industry, that this unique moment in cinematic history was captured on film and that we can still enjoy these films today. The combination of sound and colour helped define an era and establish a precedent for what would eventually become known as the ‘Golden Age’ of Hollywood cinema.
The films of this era are often cited as being among the greatest examples of the cinematic art form, and it’s easy to see why. They are often compared to a ‘Golden Age’ of literature in that they are profound, daring, ambitious and inventive, all qualities that define great storytelling. Moreover, these are story-telling devices that are still used to this day. Think of all the films that prominently feature a blind protagonist or an unreliable narrator. We still see this type of storytelling device today, even in modern blockbusters. This is because the combination of sound and colour affected us at a fundamental level. We recognize these storytelling devices as being quite unique and special because they were created as a result of this particular moment in cinematic history.
Where Do Batman And Superman Fit Into All Of This?
We’ve now arrived at the crux of the matter: Batman vs. Superman. What role do these characters play in the grand scheme of things? And which one should come out on top? Let’s take a quick look back at how Batman and Superman evolved as characters over the years. Each one of these milestones will no doubt shape how the audience feels about these two epic rivals and their ultimate showdown. So let’s examine the case for each one:
1939: The Year Batman Was Born
The year 1939 was a pivotal one for Batman. Not only does it mark the year that he first appeared in comics, but it was the year that the Batman TV show was first aired. So what is the significance of this year in the Batman mythos?
This year saw the emergence of a character that would become one of the most iconic figures in the history of comic books. In 1939, pulp fiction novelist and playwright Dashiell Hammett published a short story called ‘The Thin Man’ in which he introduced the world to his most famous creation, the ‘Private Detective’. This character would later evolve into the definitive Batman archetype. In ‘The Thin Man’, we’re first introduced to a mild-mannered Philip Marlowe, who is hired to investigate the murder of Nancy Marlowe, a friend of Diana Prince, who is often referred to as Batman’s aunt. Diana hires Marlowe to find her nephew, who has suddenly disappeared without leaving a trace. Not only does this story introduce us to pivotal themes such as loyalty, identity, trust and family that would define the Batman mythology for years to come, but it also marks the first time that we encounter the character of Jason Todd, better known as the ‘Death-Stalker’.
Based on the popular radio program of the same name, the character of Jason Todd was first introduced to audiences in the 1950s as the result of a character assassination attempt on the part of the Joker. The Joker shoots Todd dead but the damage to his nerves causes him to walk with a slight limp for the rest of his life. This was a major turning point for Batman, and it is clear that the murder of Jason Todd was a catalyst for Batman’s violent transformation. From this moment on, Batman would see the Joker as his greatest enemy and a source of ‘counter-gravitational force’, as he puts it in one of the most memorable lines from any of the Batman films. This line would later become the title of a short-lived 1990s revival of Batman.
1940: The Year The Joker Emerged As A Major Threat
The year 1940 saw the emergence of another major antagonist for Batman. This year also saw the publication of a collection of six stories by William Moulton Marlowe, better known as ‘Milo Marvel’. These are the famous ‘Black-Belt Murders’ tales, and they feature an infamous villain called the Joker. In one of these stories, the Joker murders a politician during a speech and then goes on a murder spree, all while wearing a black-belt. This was a real challenge for Batman, who has to stop this madman before he can carry out more sinister deeds. This was also the first appearance of Ra’s al-Ghul, the enigmatic and sophisticated villain who will go on to have a rich and varied history tied to the Batman mythology. Ghul is one of the most interesting and unique characters in the entire history of the DC Comics universe.