A tale of two heroes

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By Stephanie Holland

Image courtesy of ( Zade Rosenthal)

By Stephanie Holland

When future generations write the history books on the movies of 2008, they will call it the battle of the superheroes.

In simpler terms, it is Batman versus Iron Man, or perhaps Bruce Wayne versus Tony Stark.

Anyway you phrase it, “The Dark Knight” and “Iron Man” were far and away the best two films of the year.

By a small margin “Dark Knight” comes out on top, clinching the title of best movie of the year.

It features the best story ever written for a superhero movie and is one of the best casted movies ever made.

“Dark Knight” picks up where “Batman Begins” left off, with Gotham City embracing Batman as a beacon of hope. Helping him clean up the city are Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent and Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon.

Throwing a wrench into their plans for a safer Gotham City is The Joker, expertly portrayed by the late Heath Ledger.

It is Ledger’s performance that created a mountain of hype and buzz as the movie’s opening date approached.

However, it is the chemistry between a top flight cast and a solid story that made the film an instant classic.

Christian Bale portrays Batman/Bruce Wayne as a man coming into his own as a hero, who is starting to realize that there are serious sacrifices for his choices.

Batman is aided by Lucius Fox played by Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine as Alfred. These two film legends instantly make any film better just by their presence, but in “Dark Knight” they lift an already exceptional movie to brilliant levels.

While it is a movie about Batman, the real star of the film is undoubtedly Ledger’s Joker.

Ledger created a villain that is completely unredeemable yet so charismatic that he inspired audiences to root for his nefarious plans just so they could see more of him.

His performance is not only worthy of every award available, it is an outstanding final gift to fans everywhere.

As a complete, cohesive tale of police corruption, twisted personalities and heroic sacrifice, “The Dark Knight” is as close to perfection as a film can be.

In any other year, 2008’s runner-up “Iron Man” would have had no competition for best movie.

Watching “Iron Man” is like getting two films for the price of one, because it is really the story of one man’s character conflict disguised as a big budget superhero action movie.

Tony Stark can be described as the most complex superhero, so the movie lives or dies based on who is cast in the central role.

In what can be called the most perfect casting of a superhero ever, Robert Downey Jr. was picked to be Tony Stark.

Because Downey’s personal story so closely mirrors that of Stark, fans immediately accepted him as the billionaire playboy turned action hero.

What set this film apart from others in the genre is that it was so much fun to watch. Comic book movies are usually either dark and brooding or overblown caricatures of themselves, “Iron Man” was neither.

It was a study of a conflicted genius who suddenly found his calling inside of a red and gold iron suit.

Joining Downey on this roller coaster ride were Gwyneth Paltrow as loyal assistant Pepper Potts, Terence Howard as Col. James Rhodes and Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.

This talented cast, under the amazing direction of Jon Favreau, does such a great job a putting a new spin on classic story that the sequel is already in pre-production.

“Iron Man” not only breathed new life into the characters, it changed the genre as well.

With at least three new comic book movies scheduled for 2009 and even more in 2010, these films have lifted expectations of what fans want from their superhero movies.

Image courtesy of (Photo by Stephen Vaughan and TM & © DC Comics)

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