Before I begin, keep in mind that this is my personal opinion.
Having compared the two greatest Marvel movies of Logan and Avengers: Endgame (and deciding that the former was the better film), I decided to pit Logan against The Dark Knight, a film which many people believe to be not just the greatest DC movie of all time, but also the greatest superhero movie ever made. With the best Marvel movie and the best DC movie, I’m going to see which of these two films is the best comic book movie ever made. Let’s begin.
Round 1. Action:
Both Logan and The Dark Knight have breathtaking action scenes that I don’t think have ever been topped in any other films from Marvel or DC. The Dark Knight has several action scenes in the film that show Batman (Christian Bale) going up against the thugs and criminals of Gotham City. This ranges from his fight with the mob in a parking lot to his final battle with the Joker (Heath Ledger) on top of a building. There are even action scenes in the movie that don’t even include Batman sometimes, such as the bank robbery scene with the Joker at the beginning of the film. However, the absolute best action scene in The Dark Knight is the car chase in which the Joker attempts to kill Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). What makes this scene so incredible is that most of it was done with practical effects. Very little of it was CGI. Christopher Nolan’s direction was absolutely perfect during this scene. Beyond the car chase, you have a helicopter crashing onto the street, a massive truck being flipped upside down and the Joker fearlessly daring Batman to run him over and kill him during the last few moments. It’s a breathtaking experience that is even better if you were able to see it in theaters. With Logan, each action scene is mainly done with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) and his cloned daughter Laura (Dafne Keen). The fight scenes that they have against the Transigen soldiers are brutal, intense and everything a that a fight featuring Wolverine should be. The R-rating greatly helps Logan, as the film is able to show much more violence without any restraint from the studio. The action scenes such as the Logan’s fight on the open road with a group of thugs trying to steal the hubcaps of his limousine and the scene at the farm where Logan has his first fight with his savage and feral clone X-24 are incredible and do not hold back with their level of violence. Both movies have amazing action scenes but I have to give the point to Logan. While The Dark Knight had several phenomenal action scenes, it would have benefited greatly from an R-rating like Logan. It is rather obvious in the film at points that Nolan wanted to go darker with his scenes but was unable to because of the PG-13 rating. Because there was no PG-13 rating to hold Logan back, it was able to go all out with its action. As such, it wins this round.
Round 2. Main Characters:
In addition to these two movies being the best films from their respective franchises, both The Dark Knight and Logan have phenomenal character arcs for our two lead heroes. In The Dark Knight, our main character is Bruce Wayne/Batman. Following his defeat of Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) in Batman Begins, Bruce attempts to continue his crusade as Batman. He is soon faced with a new challenge in the form of the Joker, who nearly pushes him to his breaking point. In addition to going up against the Joker, he struggles to choose between his love interest Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and his role as the protector of Gotham. One of the most compelling things about Bruce’s story in The Dark Knight is his dedication to his one rule of not killing anyone. It is the Joker’s ultimate goal to make Batman kill him and Bruce knows that all too well. At the end of The Dark Knight, the fact that Bruce must take the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes is heartbreaking yet absolutely admirable and shows just how much of a hero he truly is. In Logan, Wolverine’s life is worse than ever. His healing factor is fading away and most of his fellow X-Men have died by 2029. As a result, he is now far more jaded than he once was. His only purpose at the beginning of the film is making enough money as a limousine driver in order to keep paying for the medication that will keep Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) at bay, as the former professor is suffering from a degenerative brain disease in his advanced age and must be taken care of by Logan. When Laura shows up in Logan’s life, he reluctantly tries to protect her from the corrupt company Transigen, who want to kill her so they can cover up their tracks. While Bruce tries to stick to his morals all throughout The Dark Knight, Logan nearly gives up on his mission several times during the film. It is only towards the end of the movie after Charles is sadly murdered where Logan realizes that he will not survive this final adventure. However, instead of killing himself like he originally intended to do once Charles passed away, Logan instead decides to save Laura one last time from the ruthless Transigen soldiers. As Logan dies from his final battle with X-24, it is the first time where he ever truly feels at peace. While I think both heroes go through incredible story arcs in each film, I have to give the round to Logan, as while Bruce goes through a massively compelling story in The Dark Knight, the film still ends his story on a cliffhanger that is finally resolved in The Dark Knight Rises. Logan’s story on the other hand felt complete and his relationship with Charles and Laura felt far more compelling than Bruce’s relationship with Rachel, even though that dynamic was still done very well. It’s another tough call, but Logan wins this round.
Round 3. Supporting Characters:
When it comes to both of these movies, the supporting characters are what help the main characters of each film feel more relatable and human. I’d go as far to argue that they are the greatest strength of Logan and The Dark Knight when it comes to our main protagonists. With The Dark Knight, the main supporting characters consist of Bruce’s love interest Rachel Dawes, his loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), his tech expert Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and the the Police Commissioner of Gotham City Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). While all of them are mainly there to work off of Bruce and try to deal with the threat of the Joker in their own way, each of them still have plenty of moments to shine and each actor sells their performance flawlessly. Fox does not have as big of a role as Rachel or Gordon, but he is still nonetheless able to stand out in the movie, particularly during a scene in which he fearlessly shuts down Bruce’s lawyer Coleman Reese (Joshua Harto) when the latter finds out who Batman really is and tries to blackmail him. Rachel is rather cold to Bruce throughout the film but she is not without good reason as she knows that his commitment to Batman will always take priority over his commitment to her. While her death at the hands of the Joker is already tragic, her letter to Bruce saying that she will choose Harvey Dent over him is just even more of a gut punch. When Alfred reads it, he decides to spare Bruce the pain of discovering her answer by burning the letter. The best supporting character in the movie is perhaps Gordon. He desperately tries to clean up Gotham to the point that he will knowingly allow a handful of corrupt cops to continue working at the GCPD. This backfires horribly as two of the corrupt police officers (Ron Dean and Monique Curnen) turn in Harvey and Rachel to the mob which ends up leading to Rachel’s death and Harvey’s transformation into Two-Face. Thanks to Oldman’s performance and the incredible script, you can feel Gordon’s guilt and anguish for having failed Harvey. With Logan, we have three main supporting characters in the film. The first of which is Laura, Logan’s cloned daughter. While Logan has been shown to have a soft side with kids in the previous X-Men movies, he treats Laura like everyone else and does not hold back with her in this movie. Laura shows both a childlike side to her as well as a vicious one who has a massive body count due to her having the same powers as Logan. Keen is incredible in her role and honestly gives one of the best performances that I have ever seen come from a child actor. The second supporting character that we have is Charles Xavier. The movie shows a much different side to the former leader of the X-Men. We had already seen a depressed Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past. However, that depiction is a pillow fight compared to how he is at the start of Logan. He swears far more often, calls Logan a disappointment and constantly has seizures that prove dangerous to other people thanks to his mutant powers. Despite that, he still retains his previous wisdom and optimism from the earlier films in the franchise. His death is absolutely devastating and is a major turning point for Logan, who becomes even more cynical as a result. The last supporting character we have is Caliban (Stephen Merchant). While he isn’t as compelling as Laura or Charles, the character still helps the film by providing the more light-hearted moments. While both films have great supporting characters, I have to give the round to The Dark Knight, particularly because of Gordon, who honestly feels like the second most important character in the film as we follow him struggle through his inner demons almost as much as Bruce.
Winner: The Dark Knight
Round 4. Villains:
While this was the easiest round to decide the winner on, I still think that both movies have fantastic villains. In The Dark Knight, we have the Joker as the main antagonist of the film. The Joker is an anarchistic terrorist who aims to break the morals of Gotham and prove how corrupt its people truly are. He effortlessly manipulates the mob and the law enforcement of the city into falling for his scheme and arguably succeeds by the end of the movie. His relationship with Batman is fascinating as while he takes pleasure in trying to emotionally and physically torture him as well as get him to break his one rule of not killing anyone, the Joker respects the dark knight as an equal and refuses to ever try and kill him. As the Joker puts it, “He’s just too much fun.” I don’t think there is any person on the planet who thinks this version of the Joker is bad. Heath Ledger’s portrayal is iconic and sometimes the first thing people think of when talking about this movie. While Jack Nicholson and Joaquin Phoenix had incredible portrayals of the Joker in a live-action movie, there really is no topping Ledger as the character. He only has around thirty minutes of screen time and yet he still manages to be the best character in the movie. From his terrifying scars to his chilling maniacal laugh, this version of the Joker is so unique, intimidating and downright perfect. There is a reason that Ledger posthumously won an academy award for his performance. While Ledger’s performance of the Joker is flawless, Aaron Eckhart’s portrayal of Harvey Dent/Two-Face is also incredible. Starting out as the white knight of Gotham, Harvey has the love and respect of nearly everyone in Gotham who isn’t a criminal. He is as honorable as he is charming. In addition to being the perfect person to help in cleaning up Gotham, Harvey is also currently in a relationship with Bruce’s old flame Rachel. After they are betrayed by the corrupt cops in the GCPD in a horrifying scheme that ends with Harvey being disfigured and Rachel being tragically murdered, Harvey loses all of the compassion and morality that he once had and decides to get revenge on the people who wronged him, becoming the iconic villain Two-Face. It is Harvey’s transformation into a monster that makes the Joker’s plan all the more successful, as he was able to make the most honorable of people a cold blooded killer. It is a shame that Harvey is killed off at the end of the movie, as he could have made for a great main villain in The Dark Knight Rises. Eckhart gives a tragic yet also very intense performance to the character of Two-Face and easily makes up for that awful portrayal by Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever. With Logan, we have Zander Rice (Richard E. Grant) and Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) as the main villains of the film. Rice is the head scientist at Transigen who is responsible for wiping out most of the mutant gene and creating the new mutant children. Grant gives a very slimy vibe to his character, managing to make him extremely unpleasant and unlikeable. Pierce is the most active threat in Logan, as he leads the chase for Logan and Laura with him trying to capture and kill both of them. He also does not care who gets hurt in the way as he occasionally murders innocent people who encountered Logan and Laura on their journey. Holbrook is terrific in the role, with him greatly selling the sadism of Pierce and making sure that you hate his character. When Rice and Pierce are both killed at the end of Logan, it is well deserved and one of the most satisfying moments in the film. While they are both very solid main villains, they cannot compare to the antagonists that are seen in The Dark Knight, especially Ledger’s Joker. There is simply no competing with him. I honestly don’t think there has been a single Marvel or comic book movie villain in general who has been able to match Ledger’s Joker. The Dark Knight easily wins this round because of that.
Winner: The Dark Knight
Round 5. Story:
This was by far the hardest section to choose a winner on as both films have a phenomenal story. In The Dark Knight, Bruce attempts to contend with the Joker as he brings Gotham to its knees practically all by himself. When more innocent people start to get killed, Bruce is faced with the decision to either reveal his identity to the world or let the Joker murder more cops and civilians. Before Bruce can make a decision himself, Harvey takes the fall to protect Batman’s identity, knowing full well that this will earn him the Joker’s wrath. After a breathtaking action sequence, the Joker is captured and Harvey is saved. Just when it seems that the day is won and Gotham is safe again, the Joker escapes and springs his true plan into action. Rachel is captured and killed while Harvey is turned into Two-Face and loses all of his hope and morality. The Joker continues to spread anarchy and chaos before giving his ultimate test to Gotham’s citizens and their morality by placing several bombs on two large ferries, forcing one to choose to blow up the other or else he will detonate the bombs on both of the boats. While Batman is able to stop the Joker, it is actually the people of Gotham who put a stop to the Joker’s plans as neither side blows the other up. Despite his plan with the two ferries being foiled, the Joker still defeated Batman in the end, as he managed to corrupt Harvey Dent into becoming a monster. After Batman is forced to kill Harvey when he attempts to murder Gordon’s family, he decides to take the blame for Harvey’s crimes as the people need the hope he once provided the city. It is a hard thing to do, but nevertheless necessary for Gotham’s sake. With Logan, the film takes place in the year 2029 where most mutants have died off. While trying to make enough money to pay for Xavier’s medication, a nurse named Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez) constantly pesters Logan to take her and Laura to a safe haven in North Dakota called Eden. Just when he finally relents, Gabriela is killed by the soldiers of Transigen, who then set their sights on Laura. In order to protect her from these ruthless soldiers, Logan attempts to take Laura and Charles to Eden before Transigen can get to them. Throughout the film, Logan’s view on life becomes even bleaker with each scene. It is only in the climax where Logan gains back his hope by protecting his daughter from the evil people who mean to harm her. While he pays for it with his life, Logan’s final moments are filled with peace and acceptance as he protected Laura from Pierce and the other Transigen militants. His final moments with Laura by his side are heartbreaking but also bittersweet. The vision that Yukio (Rila Fukushima) had in The Wolverine of Logan dying while holding his heart in his hand had come true. Overall, I have to give the round to The Dark Knight. While I love the story in Logan and stated that Bruce’s character arc ends on a cliffhanger that is only resolved in The Dark Knight Rises, the film’s story is still able to stand on its own. The ending of The Dark Knight stands out from most superhero movies because it ends on a rather melancholic note, as Batman is forced into hiding while Gotham accepts the lie of Dent being the true hero of the city. On top of that, The Dark Knight’s story challenges the audience on themes of morality and the questionable nature of self-preservation. Logan tackled those subjects in an incredible way, but not nearly as well as The Dark Knight.
Winner: The Dark Knight
Make no mistake. These two films are masterpieces in both comic book movies and cinema in general. Logan concludes the story of Wolverine in an inspiring movie about grief, purpose and the thought of getting old, while The Dark Knight is an intense story about good vs evil that flips the script and shows that any person can be corrupted, even the most noble individual. However, just because anyone can be corrupted doesn’t mean that they will. In my opinion, Logan is unquestionably the best Marvel movie of all time, while The Dark Knight is the best DC movie of all time. However, when it comes to the best superhero movie ever made, The Dark Knight still comes out on top at the end of the day. The Dark Knight remains the best comic book movie of all time.
Winner: The Dark Knight