Was the Dark Knight Avenged: Who took the trophy for Summer Blockbuster this year?

Most people would compare a blockbusters success in terms of box office takings: for me however I like to look at the big picture on a wider scale of success. Does a films ‘takings’ result to how successful a film is? Well of-course it is, to a point, but moneys not all that matters as clearly demonstrated in 2010 with Tim Burton’s billion dollar grossing Alice in Wonderland. The film far exceeded it’s budget in profit turn-over but what did we as audience members have to say for it: pretty much that it was a shambles.

2012 has been another successful year in terms of film profit; with two major films taking centre stage at the helm of this success. And just before you ask, this doesn’t include the ridiculous Bourne Legacy or even the overly-hyped Prometheus that was marketed for that long, people obviously tuned out when the film came for release as they’d pretty much seen the entire film in fifty different TV spots. As many would know, a film isn’t a success until it’s made at least three times it’s budget, so for fan-boys of Prometheus, it wasn’t the success it could have been, don’t take it to heart.

The battle for best blockbuster this year could have also been called the battle for best comic as it was an all out war for victory between Marvel and DC. In the Marvel corner was The Avengers, the Marvel film of all Marvel films and in the DC corner was the highly anticipated Dark Kight Rises, the finale to Christopher Nolen’s already incredibly successful Batman franchise.

On profit alone, up to now The Avengers beats Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises taking nearly an extra five hundred million; that said, The Dark Knight Rises continues to remain in theatres. The main question is, which of these two high grossing films takes the trophy as 2012′s summer blockbuster?

The Avengers was released first at the beggining of the Summer. Was I excited? No, mainly because the marketing campaign was so stereotypical of your normal Marvel film, it offered nothing new. In the trailer there was: plenty of action, great deals of explosions, corny lines, Scarlet Johannson only being in there to provide sex appeal (one girl in a group of six or seven other men… I think that’s enough said), crazy machines flying from space that reminded me of the last utterly shambolic Transformers film, Dark of the Moon and most of all, the whole storyline without any hidden surprises or spoilers.

When I came out of watching The Avengers my first thought was: I’m sure I’ve seen that whole film in the trailer. To prove my point fact, I went home, watched the trailer again and saw that the marketing campaign pretty much summed the entire film from beggining to end. As I was watching the film I remember thinking this isn’t exciting, it isn’t creative, and most of all it isn’t new. It’s the same old structure of a Marvel film (that some will love I’m sure, just not me) similar to those of X-Men where a group of super-heroes come together to stop the end of the world.

I will give the film the praise it rightfully deserves: Tom Hiddleston was by far the main star of the show as the film’s villain Loki, probably having more screen time than anyone. I never saw Thor but since watching Hiddleston’s performance in The Avengers, he’d be the main reason why I’d probably chose to watch it. The special-effects were beyond out of this world: I normally have an eye for spotting bad CGI but apart from the 3-D sometimes being a little out of touch, the film looked stunning.

On the whole, The Avengers was great when watching the first layer (what you were watching on screen) but the bad and stereotypical concepts and ideas Marvel worked with off-screen made it too much of the same old to stand out as this years big blockbuster winner.

That award, hands down, goes to The Dark Knight Rises. Don’t get me wrong, this film does have it’s flaws, but what stood out to me through the whole marketing campaign process and even when half-way through the film was I still didn’t know what was going to happen in the end. Was Selina Kyle a femme fatale, a hero or a villain? Was Bruce Wayne going to die at the hands of Bane? Was John Blake going to be Robin? Was Miranda Tate more than met the eye? Was Jonathon Crane finally going to get his commupance?

It was these questions I went into the cinema with, and these questions that were answered when coming out. The trailers kept everything under-wraps about characters alliances and hidden spoilers unlike The Avengers. The creativity on-screen and off was on a different level: Mr Nolan really has exceeded himself with this film and most of all, he’s a rare talent in the fact that he can construct a trilogy and end just as good as he did begin unlike others such as the X-Men trilogy, The Godfather trilogy and the most disappointing of all, the Spiderman trilogy.

On the acting front, Anne Hathaway stole the show which was of great suprise to me after only just watching the horrific One Day a few hours earlier before this. She really did create the modern Catwoman and that was down to her and Nolan’s collaboration. Similarly, Christian Bale should recieve his anticipated recognition for this film. I felt the first Batman film was praised for Nolan’s contemporary vision of a Batman film and the second praised the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, not talking much about Bale.

As with all films you have your “what were you thinking” moments: for most it would have been when Bruce Wayne manages to break out of a foreign prison and miraculously arrive back in Gotham City within the space of a few hours without a passport or any cards. For some it would have been the ridiculous end to Bane: a man they’ve made indestructable for the past two and a half hours ends up being blown to pieces when only seconds before the real villain of the film is revealed.

But you can’t help but think when watching The Dark Knight Rises that all of this doesn’t matter. You find yourself so lost and captivated by the story that small story arcs like these don’t seem a big deal. That is why The Dark Knight Rises deserves it round of applause and to take it’s bow of being the best summer blockbuster of 2012 which was closely followed by a dark horse contender: The Hunger Games.

Movies are what that matter; whether old, new, mainstream or independent, I will provide a reflective breakdown of what makes the films work, or what makes it fall into the abyss of forgotten films like so many have done over the years. At the same time I’m a keen writer of film features, analysing genre, narrative and representation of film franchises we know and love. Since studying Film and Media at Manchester Metropolitan University I have taken a keen interest in the Bond franchise making it an area of expertise in terms of analysis and reflection. Don’t hesitate to leave your comments; everyone is entitled to their opinion. Feel free to query my thoughts: I will take the time to answer and discuss any comments debating my reviews or features.