Alyssa Rosenberg compares two summer blockbusters, The Avengers (premiering this week) and The Dark Knight Rises (July 20):

I’m excited to see an intellectual debate between [The Dark Knight Rises] and The Avengers. Christopher Nolan’s Batman’s movies have always had an element of monkish sacrifice to them: to be an impactful superhero, Bruce Wayne’s had to surrender his true public image (in the first film, he acts the playboy to disguise his intentions), the love of his life and of the populace, and now, it’s implied, either his life or his physical health. … The Marvel franchise, and The Avengers in particular (without spoiling anything), take the opposite tack. Its superheroes become better individuals more closely drawn to their communities for their experiences as superheroes. Tony Stark stops cackling over his power to kill and begins craving the approval of those around him, a selfish motivation that ultimately teaches him to engage with their needs.