This summer we have already been treated to The Avengers, but fans are still anxiously awaiting the release of Marvel’s The Amazing Spider-Man on July 3 and DC Comics’ The Dark Knight Rises on July 20. The excitement appears to be equal (at least among the fans I know), but how will the films compare, if at all?
Batman and Spider-Man have a huge amount of commonalities, possibly more so than any other two major heroes.
Both began as comic book characters.
Both have enjoyed many successful animated series.
Both have had one live action series that fans often consider “campy”
Both have previous film franchises that fell apart in their final installments.
Both characters decided to become heroes due to a tragic loss.
Both are considered “loners,” but have still teamed up plenty due to popularity and guaranteed sales for their guest appearances.
Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1962 and Batman by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939. Both have had the misfortune of controversy concerning the artist’s credit as co-creator, however the writers, Lee and Kane, were good friends and often joked about who had created the better character until Kane died in 1998. 89-year-old Stan Lee is still with us, hopefully for a long time to come.
They have more in common, but further points are far less important. Spider-Man’s costume covers all his skin and Batman’s is close to that. Both have had black costumes at one time or another. They are incredibly agile, refuse to kill their enemies and have even had a car named after them (yes, there was once a Spider-Mobile). But these hardly matter as much.
NOTE: Much of this debate is speculative based on the limited amount of information available from the upcoming films until they are released.
Whose film will make the most at the box office?
Winner – Batman: Both franchises have traditionally garnered incredibly high grosses in the theatrical markets, but after the success of The Dark Knight, it is unlikely that Amazing Spider-Man will beat Batman’s continued success. Whether or not one film or the other is a better piece is still WAY up in the air, but if you’re going to place a Vegas bet on the money, Batman is the obvious choice.
Which film are fans looking forward to the most?
Winner – Spider-Man: Perhaps I live in a microcosm, but I know a lot of serious comic fans that were upset by the last two Batman films for their departures from the character, and disappointing endings concerning the final fates of Two-Face and Ra’s al Ghul as well as the lack of a realistic outcome with The Joker’s final play to prove that humanity's survival instinct is outweighed by a sense of righteousness. For Spider-Fans, it's been eight years since they had a film they could latch onto. Ultimately, Spider-Man wins because there are high hopes for a new beginning.
Which character traditionally has the best villains?
Winner – Batman: This is a tough call because most comics fans will tell you that Batman has the absolute best villains in all of comic-dom, but Spider-Man is a close second. In case you’re wondering, The Flash securely takes the third spot.
A character’s most effective villains tend to counteract the psyche of the hero. So in Batman’s case the antagonists are psychological. We have The Joker who is an antithesis of the seriousness that Batman stands for, and inspires chaos in the face of order. Or there’s Two-Face who is psychologically damaged to the point that he is torn in half, focuses on the number “2” and has to flip a coin to make decisions. Scarecrow is another obvious one who gains psychological strength from creating fear in his enemies. And that’s just the film baddies.
As an animalistic hero, many of Spider-Man’s villains, especially early in his career, were equally based in animal names, psyches and powers. The Chameleon, Lizard, Vulture, Black Cat, Jackal and even Dr. Octopus all had animal bases. Certainly there are exceptions, but this was generally true in many cases. If the previous film franchise had continued, I had hoped that the Lizard would be a villain alongside Kraven The Hunter who would be tracking down Lizard and end up facing Spider-Man.
But between the two, Batman narrowly defeats Spider-Man for a majority of fans. They have the top-two rogues galleries, so it’s a close call regardless.
Which of the two FILMS will have the best villain?
Winner – Spider-Man: I’ve been waiting for the Lizard to appear in a Spider-Man film since his mention in the first installment of the previous franchise in 2002. He is one of the most interesting and conflicted characters in comics as far back as his introduction in Amazing Spider-Man #6 in 1963. After Spider-Man 2 in 2004, I worried that the use of Dr. Octopus as a conflicted villain who went wrong while being good at his core might ruin the use of the Lizard, but then in Spider-Man 3 in 2007, Sandman was shown the same way. In the comics, neither villain displayed that level of remorse in their creations, but it’s an intrinsic theme for the Lizard who began as an innocent scientist seeking to use lizard DNA to regrow his missing arm and lamented endangering his own family after he transformed.
In The Dark Knight Rises, the primary villain will be Bane, who was first introduced in the comics in 1992. He was born into criminality and ended up breaking Batman’s will as well as his spine. While he is hardly a classic Batman baddie, after 20 years he has proven himself as both an interesting and highly formidable foe. The film seems to be taking him in a new, but interesting direction that remains based in his comic book origins. Batman is one of the most secretive movie projects in all of Hollywood, so we’ll have to wait and see what he’s like in the film.
Catwoman will be the classic villain, but from the trailers so far it appears that she will be more of an ally than an antagonist. It’s a more modern take on the character since she and Batman have since had several love affairs and a huge number of team-up stories. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.
Who has the best friends and allies?
Winner – Batman: I know. “AGAIN,” right?
Yes, Batman has the better allies by far. That is at least in the comics. We’ll see if Dr. Curt Connors becomes a regular friend and ally in the upcoming Spider-Man film series, but Batman has allies like several Robins (past, present and future), Alfred, Commissioner Gordon, Selena Kyle/Catwoman, The Justice League of America, The Outsiders, and so many more. Plus don't forget about the most important parts of the Gotham Police Department.
Spider-Man has Aunt May, a best friend who usually wants to kill him, and a bevy of hot women who keep either dying, turning out to be villains, or leaving him.
Who has the coolest superpowers?
Winner – Batman: I know. I swear I’m a huge Spider-Man fan too.
And yes. Batman has superpowers. Just hear me out.
Spider-Man’s powers are essentially similar to one of those spiders that you tried to kill last week, but it was too fast and got out of the way. He has the proportional strength of a spider, the agility and speed, plus he can stick to walls. The previous films came up with organic webbing that led to an interesting plot device in Spider-Man 2, but he has traditionally invented wrist triggers that could shoot out a homemade webbing, which is what the new movie will have. In that case, his other super power is the ability to shoot the web with accuracy every time.
Just think about that. If he creates his own web shooters and they aren’t part of his altered biology, even though he has the agility to swing and leap, why would he always hit his mark when he shoots a web? That’s a superpower.
In the same way, Batman most certainly has superpowers. For starters, he has the ability to run through a hail of bullets and not get hit, or if he does it’s never anything vital. He also has the ability to jump off a building and not die. Even with the special cape that lets him do so, it’s still a super power.
But Batman’s three greatest superpowers are:
1) Having unlimited funds.
2) The ability to be the world’s greatest detective and find a way to solve any mystery (this also makes Sherlock Holmes a superhero). In fact, that got so prevalent in the comics that a decade ago he was re-dubbed “Bat-God” by many fans.
3) No matter what the problem is, Batman has something in his utility belt that will solve it. Yes it was a campy part of the Adam West TV series, but it remains true. After all, who just walks around with shark repellent?
Traditionally DC superheroes have been more powerful than Marvel ones. Early in Marvel’s 1960’s Universe beginnings, Stan Lee created characters with major flaws who were nowhere near the powerful god-like DC heroes. When it comes to both companies’ biggest characters, the DC ones will usually win in a fight.
Batman has better super powers. End of story.
I’m looking forward to both films, but even though Batman as a character is higher on my “favorites” list, I’m honestly more excited about Spider-Man.
Which one are you looking forward to the most?