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Face-Off: Iron Man vs. Captain America: The First Avenger

05.03.2016by: Brian Bitner
In our previous Face-Off, we saw 1976's TAXI DRIVER stand off against 2014's NIGHTCRAWLER. Most of you agreed with my decision to give it to Martin Scorsese's classic, but I was very glad to see some support for Dan Gilroy's excellent film. Sometimes, they still make 'em like they used to.

This week, the time has finally come, as Friday marks the release of the highly anticipated CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR. The reviews so far have been outstanding (you can read ours here), with some going so far as to call it the best installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to date. Before Tony and Cap go toe to toe, though, let's go back to the beginning. IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER showed us how two of the original Avengers came to be, but which one did it better? Let's find out!
LEAD
In one hell of a comeback, Robert Downey Jr. brings Tony Stark to life like few can. The character gave us a fresh look at superheroes in general, and RDJ imbues him with just the right balance of vanity and charm.
Chris Evans is a great Steve Rogers, both before and after his transformation. While Evans brings plenty to the role, though, Captain America is just not nearly as interesting of a character as Iron Man.
VILLAIN
Jeff Bridges makes for a wonderfully menacing Obadiah Stane. Unfortunately, his upgrade to Iron Monger comes with a massive downgrade to his dialogue, resulting in a series of corny villain one-liners. We spend most of our time with Obadiah in the flesh, though, so he still comes out on top.
Hugo Weaving brings his trademark villainous presence to Johann Schmidt / Red Skull. While the period piece presentation of THE FIRST AVENGER allows for a character like this, Red Skull still feels out of place and too over the top, like he might be more at home in THOR or GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
SUPPORTING CAST
Terrence Howard as James Rhodes
Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts
Leslie Bibb as Christine Everhart
Shaun Toub as Yinsen
Faran Tahir as Raza
Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson
Paul Bettany as Jarvis
Jon Favreau as Happy Hogan
Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes
Tommy Lee Jones as Col. Chester Phillips
Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark
Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger
Stanley Tucci as Dr. Abraham Erskine
Toby Jones as Dr. Arnim Zola
Neal McDonough as Timothy 'Dum Dum' Dugan
SETTING
Present day Afghanistan, Malibu, and Los Angeles

Jon Favreau actually chose to take Tony out of the East Coast, where he primarily presides in the comics, to give IRON MAN a unique feel and separate it from so many New York-based superhero movies.
Early 1940's New York City and Nazi-occupied Europe

Marvel wisely took the opportunity of an origin story to set THE FIRST AVENGER in the past, allowing a unique, stylized period piece but also bringing Cap into present day by the time the credits roll.
QUOTES
"Give me a scotch. I'm starving."

"Don't waste it... don't waste your life, Stark."

"They say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That's how Dad did it, that's how America does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far. I present to you the newest in Stark Industries' Freedom line. Find an excuse to let one of these off the chain, and I personally guarantee, the bad guys won't even wanna come out of their caves."

"If you douse me again, and I'm not on fire, I'm donating you to a city college."

"Yeah, I can fly."

"Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!"

"It's an imperfect world, but it's the only one we got. I guarantee you the day weapons are no longer needed to keep the peace, I'll start making bricks and beams for baby hospitals."

"Have you ever lost an hour of sleep in your life?" "I'm prepared to lose a few with you."

"Next time, baby."

"The truth is... I am Iron Man."
"I don't want to kill anyone. I don't like bullies; I don't care where they're from."

"I know this neighborhood. I got beat up in that alley. And that parking lot. And behind that diner."

"Whatever happens tomorrow you must promise me one thing. That you will stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier, but a good man."

"I thought you were dead." "I thought you were smaller."

"Arrogance may not be a uniquely American trait, but I must say, you do it better than anyone."

"My weapons contain enough destructive power to decimate every hostile capital on Earth. Quite simply, gentlemen, I have harnessed the power of the gods."

"Who are you supposed to be?" "I'm... Captain America." "I beg your pardon?"

"You know for the longest time I dreamed about coming overseas and be on the front lines. Serving my country. I finally get everything I wanted, and I'm wearing tights."

"I had some ideas about the uniform."

"I had a date."
DIRECTING
With Jon Favreau's unique take on the superhero genre, IRON MAN is a sharp comedy, a war film, a popcorn action movie, and an arms race thriller all at once. The realist approach allows for immersion in the story (though the final battle suffers as a result as discussed in the next section).
The period piece approach may not be for everyone, but Joe Johnston uses it to great advantage. Once the world of the 1940's is established as stylized and fantastical but still a bit gritty, it opens the door not only for that suit but for a flair that would be way too much in a more realistically driven film.
FINALE
For a movie that spends so much time bringing a reality and believability to the story, a finale of two CGI characters throwing cars at each other feels a little underwhelming. Of course, the real climax of the film comes in the last lines as Tony declares to the world, "I am Iron Man."
Not only is the finale here much more ambitious, with multiple set pieces and action sequences, but the subsequent ending with Cap sacrificing himself, only to wake up 70 years later and realize he missed out on a potential life with Peggy, is both fascinating and heartbreaking.
BOX OFFICE & ACCOLADES
IMDB: 7.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% (Audience Score: 91%)
Metacritic: 79 (User Score: 8.5)
Domestic Total Gross: $318,412,101
IMDB: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 80% (Audience Score: 74%)
Metacritic: 66 (User Score: 7.0)
Domestic Total Gross: $176,654,505
IRON MAN
I think Marvel did an impressive job introducing these two characters in such different ways while still allowing enough common ground for them to come together seamlessly in THE AVENGERS. IRON MAN just felt like a stronger start for the character, though, while CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER felt more like a first step, especially in the eventual shadow of THE WINTER SOLDIER and, if the hype is to believed, CIVIL WAR. I'm curious to hear which is your preference and who you'll be rooting for when Iron Man and Captain America throw down this weekend!

Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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8:07AM on 05/04/2016
Iron Man was my favourite MCU movie until Winter Soldier came along. The second Cap movie was so much better than the first, but I guess you had to tell the first story to set up everything else. But Iron Man's a deserved winner of this Face-Off, and still one of the best MCU films.
Iron Man was my favourite MCU movie until Winter Soldier came along. The second Cap movie was so much better than the first, but I guess you had to tell the first story to set up everything else. But Iron Man's a deserved winner of this Face-Off, and still one of the best MCU films.
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12:45AM on 05/04/2016
I saw Civil War a week ago. It works. So much so that I can't imagine them not having an Iron Man 4 and a Captain America 4 in Phase 4. Phases 4 and 5 will be about introducing new heroes that will replace the current heroes as the actors age. Marvel isn't going to make the mistake of giving B heroes their own movies without introducing them in other movies. Marvel has taken a lot of risks and they have paid off but I wouldn't blame them for collecting on their goodwill by continuing
I saw Civil War a week ago. It works. So much so that I can't imagine them not having an Iron Man 4 and a Captain America 4 in Phase 4. Phases 4 and 5 will be about introducing new heroes that will replace the current heroes as the actors age. Marvel isn't going to make the mistake of giving B heroes their own movies without introducing them in other movies. Marvel has taken a lot of risks and they have paid off but I wouldn't blame them for collecting on their goodwill by continuing existing franchises and only beginning new franchises when audiences demand them. I expect there will be a Black Widow movie but it will end with her training a new team of Avengers. By the time the original actors / characters have retired, there will be hype built up for a new team of Avengers to take over.
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10:46PM on 05/03/2016

Both are great, but Cap is better

For my money, Captain America is the most interesting hero in the Marvel Universe. Iron Man is great, but First Avenger was more engaging, for me at least. And I'm going to be honest, RDJ is starting to grate on me.
For my money, Captain America is the most interesting hero in the Marvel Universe. Iron Man is great, but First Avenger was more engaging, for me at least. And I'm going to be honest, RDJ is starting to grate on me.
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9:15PM on 05/03/2016
Iron Man wins, it's still my favorite MCU film. Captain America is good, but it feels rushed, trying to fit in too much story before The Avengers film. Ideally, I think they should have given Captain America 2 films leading into Avengers instead of Iron Man.
Iron Man wins, it's still my favorite MCU film. Captain America is good, but it feels rushed, trying to fit in too much story before The Avengers film. Ideally, I think they should have given Captain America 2 films leading into Avengers instead of Iron Man.
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+0
8:48PM on 05/03/2016

Iron Man wins for being an enjoyable film...

But Captain America was a better movie. If that sounds convoluted, I just mean that there was more real drama and character-driven story in CA, but the way they handled the battles (and the montage) just didn't have the exciting drive that IM did (and nothing was as satisfying as seeing Tony throw that piece of crap to the villagers to get their revenge).

Going by categories, IM has to win. It made more money, had better reviews, and won the majority of categories (especially leading
But Captain America was a better movie. If that sounds convoluted, I just mean that there was more real drama and character-driven story in CA, but the way they handled the battles (and the montage) just didn't have the exciting drive that IM did (and nothing was as satisfying as seeing Tony throw that piece of crap to the villagers to get their revenge).

Going by categories, IM has to win. It made more money, had better reviews, and won the majority of categories (especially leading man). Also, Bridges was more of a presence, where Red Skull was great while he was on screen, but he rarely was Cap's main foe (or anyone's).
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6:59PM on 05/03/2016

Iron Man ..but just barely

I also enjoyed the 1st Iron Man movie which I think set the standard/formula for all MCU movies that followed after. However, I also have respect for Joe Johnston for pulling off First Avenger which i thought would be embarassing but given the stylised WWII setting, the Red Skull didnt look so 'out of place' and Chris Evans handled himself like a champ given Cap's kiddies party-like flamboyant costume.

Oh, and one of my favourite Iron Man quotes was:

Pepper Potts (retort to skank, one
I also enjoyed the 1st Iron Man movie which I think set the standard/formula for all MCU movies that followed after. However, I also have respect for Joe Johnston for pulling off First Avenger which i thought would be embarassing but given the stylised WWII setting, the Red Skull didnt look so 'out of place' and Chris Evans handled himself like a champ given Cap's kiddies party-like flamboyant costume.

Oh, and one of my favourite Iron Man quotes was:

Pepper Potts (retort to skank, one night stand reporter): "I do everything and anything Mr Stark tells me to do, which occasionally includes 'taking out the trash'"
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+0
5:27PM on 05/03/2016

Quotes

Goes to Captain America..."I could do this all day." It's so good they keep bringing it back!
Goes to Captain America..."I could do this all day." It's so good they keep bringing it back!
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4:58PM on 05/03/2016

Yeah,... no...

The First Avenger is a far superior film to Iron Man. Don't get me wrong, Iron Man was a good fun film, but the first Cap movie is just superior in all ways (well, except for RDJ).
The First Avenger is a far superior film to Iron Man. Don't get me wrong, Iron Man was a good fun film, but the first Cap movie is just superior in all ways (well, except for RDJ).
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-1
1:17PM on 05/03/2016

CAPTAIN AMERICA-6/10; IRON MAN-7/10

You also should've added a section for the post-credits scenes. IRON MAN would've won it, right?
You also should've added a section for the post-credits scenes. IRON MAN would've won it, right?
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1:11PM on 05/03/2016

Iron Man 1 is a better film.

Captain America is and always has been my favorite Marvel character. As much as I love Cap, the original Iron Man is a better movie overall than the original Cap movie. I disagree on some of your assessments like setting should be all Cap. WW2 era in all scenes save the last one vs generic middle eastern desert shots for some of the beginning. Cap should get that one no contest. Villain I would also give to cap because Red Skull is iconic, Obidiah Stane is nothing special on screen or in the
Captain America is and always has been my favorite Marvel character. As much as I love Cap, the original Iron Man is a better movie overall than the original Cap movie. I disagree on some of your assessments like setting should be all Cap. WW2 era in all scenes save the last one vs generic middle eastern desert shots for some of the beginning. Cap should get that one no contest. Villain I would also give to cap because Red Skull is iconic, Obidiah Stane is nothing special on screen or in the comics honestly. I can't argue the quotes though, I mean no one really matches Tony Stark quips lol.
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12:07PM on 05/03/2016
Iron Man started it all, but I also like the pulpy Captain America, set in WWII (you see two dozens of contemporary superheroes, yet you hardly see another superhero in the worst period of history). So, it's a tie for me.
Also, Red Skull is my favourite MCU villain after Loki. Hugo Weaving should re-materialize in a future movie!
Iron Man started it all, but I also like the pulpy Captain America, set in WWII (you see two dozens of contemporary superheroes, yet you hardly see another superhero in the worst period of history). So, it's a tie for me.
Also, Red Skull is my favourite MCU villain after Loki. Hugo Weaving should re-materialize in a future movie!
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11:52AM on 05/03/2016
Whilst Iron Man is the better movie, there's a few categories here I disagree with. Villain should at least be equal, Red Skull has an iconic look and great dialogue "You cannot outwit a simpleton with a shield", setting should go to Captain America without a shadow of a doubt, and 'quotes' belongs to Captain America purely for every line that comes out of Tommy Lee Jones mouth and yet somehow isn't in your quotes section: "He's making me cry", "If you stick a needle in him it'll go right
Whilst Iron Man is the better movie, there's a few categories here I disagree with. Villain should at least be equal, Red Skull has an iconic look and great dialogue "You cannot outwit a simpleton with a shield", setting should go to Captain America without a shadow of a doubt, and 'quotes' belongs to Captain America purely for every line that comes out of Tommy Lee Jones mouth and yet somehow isn't in your quotes section: "He's making me cry", "If you stick a needle in him it'll go right through him" and "I'm not kissing him".
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11:09AM on 05/03/2016
Iron Man for me as well. Apart from being a big gamble that paid off huge for Marvel, it's a solid superhero movie with great performance from RDJ and Jeff Bridges is, by far, the best Marvel movie villain.
Iron Man for me as well. Apart from being a big gamble that paid off huge for Marvel, it's a solid superhero movie with great performance from RDJ and Jeff Bridges is, by far, the best Marvel movie villain.
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10:52AM on 05/03/2016

Captain America

I love Robert Downey jr. As Tony Stark/Iron Man, but the Iron Man movies are overrated, especially the first movie. I'm not saying it's a bad movie it's actually a really good movie, but the way people talk about it, they put it on a pedestal when it's nowhere near that. The final fight scene is cheap and and Tony Stark telling the world he's Iron Man was probably one of the dumbest things any superhero could have ever done. And then in the third more he actually gave the Terrorist his address.
I love Robert Downey jr. As Tony Stark/Iron Man, but the Iron Man movies are overrated, especially the first movie. I'm not saying it's a bad movie it's actually a really good movie, but the way people talk about it, they put it on a pedestal when it's nowhere near that. The final fight scene is cheap and and Tony Stark telling the world he's Iron Man was probably one of the dumbest things any superhero could have ever done. And then in the third more he actually gave the Terrorist his address. I know he's cocky but come on he can't be that stupid. Both movies are good, not great, but atleast Cap had a better ending, a great ending.
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10:45AM on 05/03/2016

Iron Man

.... still the best MCU film. Game-changer.
.... still the best MCU film. Game-changer.
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10:34AM on 05/03/2016

Iron Man

Iron Man is in the top three of best Marvel films next to Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy (in my opinion) and it's also one of the most perfect origins film of any comic book character in my opinion as well. It also helps that they cast THE perfect actor to portray Stark/Iron Man, which made the film that much better, memorable, and vital in the comic book genre.

First Avenger is just as great, fun, and memorable and I loved that it was a time period comic book film (which we
Iron Man is in the top three of best Marvel films next to Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy (in my opinion) and it's also one of the most perfect origins film of any comic book character in my opinion as well. It also helps that they cast THE perfect actor to portray Stark/Iron Man, which made the film that much better, memorable, and vital in the comic book genre.

First Avenger is just as great, fun, and memorable and I loved that it was a time period comic book film (which we obviously don't see a lot of in the genre). And Marvel yet again cast the perfect actor for Captain America which has obviously made all the difference like Downey with Iron Man. I do consider The First Avenger to be the most underrated film of the MCU and it's personally in my top five behind the three I mentioned above. Not only did the film do a great job of making the the specific details of the time period come to life, but it really just displayed all the characteristics and traits on what makes Captain America so great; in terms of patriotism, honor, loyalty, fighting for the little guy, and having a moral code
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10:32AM on 05/03/2016
The first Iron Man is still the best Marvel Studios film.
The first Iron Man is still the best Marvel Studios film.
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10:24AM on 05/03/2016
The first Iron Man is still my favourite Marvel entry.
The first Iron Man is still my favourite Marvel entry.
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