Those of us who enjoy superhero and comic book based movies are fortunate to have two of the most highly anticipated movies of the last decade coming out this summer. "The Dark Knight Rises" will be the final movie in Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy and "The Avengers" will be the culmination of seeds planted in five of Marvel's movies; "Iron man", "Iron man 2", "Thor", "The Incredible Hulk", and "Captain America". Perhaps the smartest things the studios have done is to release the two movies on opposite ends of the summer with the Avengers movie coming out in May and Batman in July. They're just too big to have in the theaters at the same time. The questions floating around out there about each movie are many, but there is probably one which is high on many fans' minds. Which one will be better? Well, this article is aimed to help clear some things up to help give us all a better idea of what may be yet to come. Of course, none of us will know for sure until we see them in the theater, but until then we can sit back and ponder the question all we want.

 Let's begin with what we know about each movie. "The Avengers" has an allstar cast of returning actors from all the previous movies with the one big exception of Ed Norton not being present to play the part of Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffallo is set to fill Norton's shoes and all we can do is hope he does a good job. I for one really enjoyed Ed Norton in the role in "The Incredible Hulk" and feel the movie was very underrated. From the trailers, it seems that the team will be up against some kind of invading force which is either lead by or at least connected to Thor's brother, Loki. We also see slightly different looks for Thor, Hawkeye, Captain America, and possibly Iron man (he's usually got a different armor every time you turn around, but it's kind of hard to tell for sure in the trailers). If the trailers are a good indication, there should be no shortage of big explosions and fight scenes. Some of the biggest concerns so far are that there may be too many big actors and characters and not enough screen time and story to go around. It has been pointed out by many online that Iron man seems to be more at the forefront of the movie and in fact the posters which are said to be released soon than is perhaps fair. The team is lead by Captain America in the comics after all and while Robert Downey Jr. commands the most star recognition out of anyone in the movie save for Samuel L Jackson, some people would still like to see Cap with more of the focus.

 Moving on to "The Dark Knight Rises", we know a few things about the story allready. First, we know that it takes place several years after the events of "The Dark Knight". Next, we know that there is at least one new vilain; Bane. And we know that Anne Hathaway will be playing Selina Kyle/ Catwoman. Some people are concerned about Anne Hathaway in the role as Catwoman, but I personally don't see a problem as long as the story is executed well. It seems that Commisioner Gordan is injured or sick in the hospital at one point and Bruce Wayne is in what looks like a prison cell, doing pushups. In the comics, Bane breaks Batman's back after running him through a seemingly endless gauntlet of enemies and weakening him with constant combat and lack of sleep. Interviews with cast and the director seem to indicate that something of that nature may happen in the movie as well or at the very least that Batman does not come out too well in his first encounter with Bane. Another thing to consider is the rumor that Chris Nolan may kill off Batman at the end of the movie. There have been plenty of times that Nolan has stated that he wanted his version of Batman to be able to exist in the real world and that in the real world, noone could do what Batman does forever. He has also made it clear that this will be his final Batman movie. I find it highly likely that Nolan will want to do something to force DC and the studios to reboot the Batman movie franchise yet again rather than try to make a sequel to his final picture. Maybe he doesn't trust another writer and director to do the Batman universe he's crafted justice. Maybe it's just ego and his way of avoiding being asked to do it again. Either way, if Batman dies at the end of "The Dark Knight Rises", it may make for a more dramatic movie, but possibly not happier movie goers.

 So, to sum up, we have great potential in both movies, but also some possible pitfalls. If "The Avengers" can somehow get a good balance of story, action, and screen time for each character, we could be looking at a higher setting of the bar for all comic and superhero movies to come. However, if they fail on any of those factors, we could be looking at a movie that looks more like "Iron man 3" or has a whole lot of action, but so little story and character development that your date is asking you who people in the movie were two hours later. Likewise, if "The Dark Knight Rises" can deliver a sequel as good as its previous two movies or even better, it will go down as one of the best movies of its kind ever. However, if it over does the drama and even goes so far as to kill off the main character, there could be quite a backlash from fans. I think there's an unwritten rule about all these superhero movies; Don't kill off the hero. It's not that hard. "The Watchmen" is an exception, but it was also a cult hit and the characters who died in the movie also died in the comic. Plus, you don't see ads for "The Watchmen 2", do you? It's simple. Don't kill the good guys and especially don't kill the really big ones like; Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Captain America etc. With what we have to go on from interviews, rumors, and trailers so far, I see it like this: "The Avengers" is probably going to be the more fun and action packed movie of the two while "The Dark Knight Rises" will probably get more aclaim and recognition from critics. The question as to which will have higher ticket sales is really kind of up in the air. I really think the deciding factor may be word of mouth and whether or not Batman dies in his last movie. A lot of the reason some of these movies do so well is that people go back to see them again and again. Let's just hope both movies deliver well enough for us to want to do that.