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Face-Off: Iron Man vs. Batman

05.02.2013by: Paul Huffman
In last weeks Face-Off , we showed Michael Bay some love for making his best critically successful film in a while in Pain & Gain, by throwing together match up between The Island and Transformers. The Island ultimately took the verdict with many of our readers praising the cast and the effort that was put into the story.

This week, it's the wonderful world of Marvel going head to to head with one of the greatest DC has to offer in a match between Iron Man and Batman. Now to make this a bit more simple, seeing as the history of both these characters are so grand, we'll be judging these two based on how they've been portrayed on screen thus far. Batman has a considerably larger resume than Iron Man in that department, but roll with it. Both billionaire playboys in their spare time, mere mortal men who have become bad ass crime fighters at their best. Cinematically Batman has had a spotty record for some, while over the years Robert Downey Jr. has helped Iron Man along the way to becoming a worthy opponent to The Dark Knight. So as of today, where do you stand? Let's discuss.
Origin Stories
Tony Stark, MIT graduate in electrical engineering and physics, inherits his late father's empire Stark Industries. After being attacked by terrorists and captures, shrapnel gradually moves towards Stark's heart threatening his life. Teaming up with another prisoner who happens to be a physicist Stark admires, they build a chest plate to keep said shrapnel from reaching Stark's heart. They also build a suit of armor in which Stark uses to escape his captors and as a bit of a changed man devotes his life to fighting crime. Always dug this origin story as it shows Stark, albeit with some help, using his considerable intelligence to claw his way out of a serious problem in a relatively quick manner. And you buy being captured by terrorists and surviving changing your outlook on life. Bravo.
In Nolan's first foray into the Batman universe, we get our most in depth look into what turned Bruce Wayne into Batman. As a child Bruce Wayne was an eye witness to his parents getting murdered in cold blood by a criminal named Joe Chill. When Wayne reaches the proper age to receive the training required to fight the crime he's grown to hate, he uses a symbol of his own fear to strike fear into the hearts of criminals and take down any wrong doer that finds their way in his path. Bless Nolan for getting it right and really owning that origin story, in past Batman films that origin story is told shortly in flashbacks and had changed several times to better fit the story they were telling at the time. When told in the right way, it's a very tragic pill to swallow.
Abilities
Starks abilities and powers as Iron Man can all be attributed to the high amount of intelligence he had grown up developing. He is a genius in areas like mathematics, chemistry, physics, and computer engineering. That intelligence led to the design and building of the armored suit and all the toys he gets to play with as a result, Stark also uses this intelligence to get out of certain jams. In the comics there are many features the suit can do we haven't even seen touched on in the films, but even the films we've gotten have shown what Iron Man is capable of.
An edge Bruce Wayne has over Tony Stark is his breath taking combat skills and his skills in detective work. From their the iconic Bat suit and other assorted gadgets take over. Batmobiles, batplanes, batboats, batsubs, batcycles, batarangs, and a few other goodies. What I've just mentioned are stylish ways for him to get around and to take out goons from a distance. The aforementioned combat skills are where he shines, as he's able to use this to take out many villains who come nowhere close to matching that ability in the fisticuffs department.
Real Billionaire Life
What I love about Tony Stark is his arrogance that comes off as a bit lovable, at least with the way RDJ has portrayed him. This overabundance of confidence has led Tony Stark to being one of the superheroes that have come forward and proudly claim that they were a crime fighting crusader in their spare time. As Stark takes over his fathers company he has become one of the wealthiest fictional characters of all time, ahead of Bruce Wayne. What I love about Stark, and they really emphasized this in the first Iron Man film, is the business ethics he developed. For all his arrogance (which is justified) he became a noble person when you strip him down to his bare essence.
In contrast to Tony Stark, the Bruce Wayne that Bruce Wayne has put on for the public is a facade. Wayne is playing up what he thinks a billionaire playboy should be and at points in the films he can come off as a bit of an ass, especially in Nolan's films. It's similar to how Clark Kent conducts himself in his every day life, playing a character that couldn't be further from who they really are. There is the Bruce Wayne that the public sees, and there is the Bruce Wayne people closest to him have been able to see. The one still tortured by his childhood. Both are compelling, and the reason is because it's hard to imagine a Bruce Wayne who had to live with being "Bruce Wayne" alone. What would happen to this man if he didn't have Batman?
On The Big Screen
With the upcoming Iron Man 3 we've had Robert Downey Jr. portray Iron Man for four films now. He's been pitch perfect in each of them. The first Iron Man, one of the best and most faithful origin films to date. The second, a great peak into a Tony Stark with some demons both physical and mental to deal with. Avengers, Iron Man at his most heroic and his lovable admiration and awe of Bruce Banner is great. Have yet to see Iron Man 3, but some have and say it's the best of the bunch. That's a hell of a track record. There's a possibility aside from Avengers we are reaching the end of our road with RDJ as Tony Stark. Many will except a replacement if need be, with extreme reluctance? Will any be able to capture Tony as well as RDJ can? Will future films be as successful? Time will tell.
Out of the 8 live action Batman films that have been produced, four of them I find near perfection and could never get tired of watching. Burton's first Batman, the sequel Batman Returns, Batman Begins, and the Dark Knight. Special points go to the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, that is so great when it comes to story it gives any of these a run for their money. For better or worse, every actor that has tackled Batman has done their best with the material they were given. Who did the best job wearing the cape is up for debate, many varying opinions. I suppose in the end it all comes down to what you prefer. Batman has had his duds in the film world sure, but there is something to say for the nostalgia he brings and quality in recent years.kjk
Batman
As much as I love Iron Man and respect the life Robert Downey Jr has been able to breathe into the character (launching the now dominant Marvel universe)...this is Batman. He is one of the most iconic characters of all time, appealing to more than just comic book fans. The same can be sad for Iron Man, but like I said nostalgia is getting the better of me here. Do you agree? Or have you become more impressed with Downey's Iron Man run? Time to strike back.

If you have an idea that you'd like to see in a future FACE OFF column, feel free to shoot an email to me at [email protected] with your ideas and some ideas for the critique to base your ideas off. Thank you and in the meantime...

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