“Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight,” Turn Ten

By Daniel F.

Ten years ago, the two movies that started the current comic book movie craze, “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight,” were released.

“Iron Man” Review

Released on May 2, 2008, “Iron Man” became the first movie of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

The film starts with a convoy of military jeeps riding through the desert set to AC/DC’s “Back in Black.” Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is drinking Scotch in the back of one of the humvees and making sarcastic jokes towards the soldiers who are protecting him.

Then an ambush happens and everything goes downhill.

Before we get to see what happened to Stark, we get to see what he is like as a person. He’s a snarky, charismatic, billionaire, playboy who owns a massive weapons company, which he inherited from his father. Doesn’t this sound a tab bit familiar?

We also see his friends. This includes the liaison between his company and the air force, Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Terrence Howard, who would be replaced by Don Cheadle in subsequent films), his personal assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), the man who also runs Stark Industries, Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), and Stark’s A.I. system J.A.R.V.I.S. (Paul Bettany).

Then we see that Stark was captured, but he manages to escape by building a suit of armor to take down the terrorists that captured him. And that is the premise of the movie.

This movie does have something most superhero films didn’t have before it: a sense of humor. Stark is very snarky and most of the dialogue is witty banter between the actors. Even when his life is threatened, he still comes up with a sarcastic comment. That’s what makes the movie fun. The audience, like the hero, can laugh in the face of danger and even mock it. Robert Downey Jr. does a great job of doing this and owns the role.

The movie also has an incredible fight scene between Iron Man and the Iron Mongrel towards the end. It’s an amazing sight to see, with the two of them being knocked around and fighting on a rooftop.

And so began the MCU. The film that started it, a great film and it is considered one of the best in the franchise, is phenomenal and highly recommended.

“The Dark Knight” Review

Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk,” “The Prestige,” “Memento”) had started looking at Batman with 2005’s “Batman Begins.” Nolan had planned on a trilogy of films following the superhero and “Batman Begins” became known for a dark and gritty look at the character. While it became a critical and financial success, nobody could foresee how big and influential its sequel would become.

Released just two months after “Iron Man” (July 18), “The Dark Knight” is the deeper, darker, and better of the two. While “Iron Man” went for the witty hero, “The Dark Knight” went for the haunted one and focused more on the villain.

Batman (Christian Bale) has cleaned up Gotham. Along with Lt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) are trying to finally take down the mob in the city. However, the mob decides to hire a villain known as The Joker (Heath Ledger, who died before the film was released) to stop them. What follows is a chaotic ride of a film.

The film tackled the moral and ethical issues of Batman. The Joker isn’t just a gimmicky villain, he’s “an agent of chaos,” who will do everything he can to break one of the three men who are after him. He also has the best lines of the entire film.

When we first see him, in a bank robbery, he takes off a clown mask to reveal his clown makeup and says ‘I believe whatever doesn’t kill you, simply makes you stranger.” And later on, he delivers his famous (infamous perhaps) ‘Why so serious?” speech.

This is credited to Heath Ledger. He owns the role of the chaotic clown and makes sure that anyone who sees the film will remember him. He’s menacing on screen, someone that will scare you, and make you laugh at the same time (then you will question why are you laughing after hearing the darkly humorous jokes).

The other actors are great too. Bale is a good Batman (sans the grating voice he uses), Oldman does a nice job as Gordon, and Eckhart is superb as Dent. You see Dent being a courageous hero to breaking down due to the Joker’s chaos.

Michael Caine (who plays Alfred Pennyworth) and Morgan Freeman (who plays Lucius Fox) also give very good performances. They give Batman advice and own their roles are supporting cast members.

One of the best scenes in the movie is a chase scene. The Joker is chasing Dent around the streets of Gotham (which is Chicago in real-life) in a truck that has the phrase “Slaughter is the best medicine” on it. Who would’ve thought just adding a red “S” on “Laughter is the best medicine” would produce that phrase.

It culminates in Joker’s truck getting flipped. That happened in real life. The crew flipped a truck on the streets of Chicago. And it is awesome to witness.

What makes the film different than every other superhero film is the fact that it won an acting Oscar. Heath Ledger won it for Best Supporting Actor, which is well deserved. No comic book film did this before, and none has since.

“The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” took comic book films to the next level. Whether it’s by adding witty dialogue and a sarcastic hero, or showing the darker and haunted side of superheroes, these two film changed comic book films into what they are today.

“Iron Man” trailer from TheMovieChannel on YouTube.

“The Dark Knight” trailer from Movieclips Classic Trailers on YouTube.

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