Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: The Avengers vs. Battleship, two summer blockbusters re-envisioning our childhood favorites for the big screen.
The Avengers, like the comic book, tells the story of a group of superheroes that join together to save the world whenever it is in need of saving. It is also brings together the heroes of Marvel movies past—Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk. For the first installment of what will surely be a franchise, The Avengers—made up of Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo)—must face the wrath of Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor's evil brother from another world who has come to Earth to subjugate the human race and rule the planet.
Battleship, meanwhile, tells the story of a U.S. naval fleet fighting aliens they find hiding in Earth's oceans during a routine day of naval war games. Lt. Alex Hopper, aka Tim Riggins of TV's Friday Night Lights (Taylor Kitsch), Rihanna, and others are sent to inspect the undetectable ships and soon realize that the alien spaceships do not come in peace. An energy dome appears, separating the battleships and aliens from the rest of the world, while whip-lashing alien robot spheres go on a path of destruction. The only hope for humanity lies inside the dome, and it's up to Lt. Hopper and his crew to play the ultimate game of Battleship and save the world. For a movie about a children's game, Battleship looks like it delivers in its own semi-Transformers cum Armageddon way. However, while it surely beats out that weird Ouija board film, in the quest for successful board game-to-movie adaptation of the decade, The Avengers storyline is just too legendary to beat.
Advantage: The Avengers
In terms of leading men, we have quite a battle. In The Avengers corner, we get Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner—a pretty star-studded mix. In Battleship, we also have a fair amount of "talent" heating up the screen, such as TV studs Taylor Kitsch, and Alexander Skarsgård, along with Liam Neeson, and Jesse Plemons, another great addition from Friday Night Lights. Unfortunately, the new-er guard of Battleship plus Neeson can't stand up to Hollywood A-list talent playing the preeminent superheroes of our time. Plus, we really wouldn't mind Liam Neeson branching out from action and into comedy.
Advantage: The Avengers
There may be fewer female than male roles in both films, but there's still plenty of talent. The Avengers has Scarlett Johansson in the role of Black Widow, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, while Battleship has Brooklyn Decker and Rihanna, who is making her feature film debut. We're going with Battleship here. We already know what Johansson and Paltrow can do, and we want to see Rihanna take a stab at acting!
The role of the villain is always important, but in the case of these two films, it's the main crux of conflict. Both film's antagonists, The Avengers' Loki and Battleship's aliens, known as the "Regents," have earth-shattering capabilities. In terms of evil appearances—that menacing quality, which can take many forms like Star Wars' Darth Vader, or The Fifth Element's giant black ball of fire. The Avengers' Loki fails to creep us out sufficiently, whereas robot-suited aliens in Battleship, though not a new concept, hearken back to Predator and remind us of the horror that can be hiding beneath the mask.
Both of our directors are serious contenders: The Avengers is helmed by Joss Whedon, the writer-director-producer who created cult TV shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse. Battleship's director is Peter Berg, an actor-director-producer, who directed Friday Night Lights (the film), episodes of FNL (the TV show), and Hancock. You may also remember him as Chris Kattan's illiterate brother in Corky Romano. Both directors have had hits and misses (the misses most notably being Dollhouse and Hancock). Yet, while we applaud Berg for making Battleship look watchable, the prospect of Joss Whedon directing a big budget, big name superhero film puts him on top here.
Advantage: The Avengers
Both films this week look like they are bound for a successful summer; doing their duties by starring hot men and hot ladies, pegging good against evil, and blowing up a whole lot of stuff. However, in terms of cinematic milestones, even Rihanna's debut on the big screen just can't beat out Joss Whedon and the long-anticipated Avengers finally making it to movie theaters.
Winner: The Avengers
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