Round 1: Begin!

Arts and Entertainment Reviews

Iron Man vs. Captain America: The First Avenger 

By Chrissy Begle, Layout and Design Editor 

(Image from pinterest)
  Iron Man  Captain America: The First Avenger 
Year Released  2008  2011 
Running Time  2 hours, 6 minutes  2 hours, 4 minutes 
Opening Weekend (USA)  $318,412,101  $65,058,524 
Cumulative Worldwide Gross  $585,174,222 (+46%)  $176,654,505 (+63%) 
Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB)  7.9/10 (79%) 

(770,724 ratings)  

6.9/10 (69%) 

(577,203 ratings) 

Rotten Tomatoes  4.2/5 (84%)  3.7/5  (74%) 
Synopsis  Tony Stark, wealthy and genius owner of Stark Industries (inherited from his father), builds a super-suit to fight injustice after being captured by terrorists and finding that they are using weapons that his company created.  Set in 1942, a skinny, asthmatic young man from Brooklyn, after five attempts to enlist, finds his chance to stand up to the bullies of the world when he agrees to an injection of a serum that will turn him into a “super soldier.” 

Statistics from and 

Deciding which is the superior movie, Iron Man or Captain America: The First Avenger, is a decision as epic as the movies themselves. Both movies are extremely well cast, well-written and introduce iconic, well-loved characters.  

Iron Man is glib and action-oriented, whereas Captain America is dramatic and more story-driven than action-packed. Tony Stark has hubris as well as genius, and despite a general lack of tact, shows vulnerability at times. Captain America is noble and selfless, with a determination that never flags. 

The case for Iron Man 

Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, stated in a Vanity Fair article that originally, there was no big plan to make The Avengers movie. Iron Man was the first movie to test the waters and did so well that not only did the new Marvel Studios realize that they could make more movies, but that they could tie them together. Robert Downey, Jr. was perfect for the role of Tony Stark and contributed to the success and hype of the movie. 

The hints of romance and the snarky humor round out the action and the cool technology, especially Pepper Pott’s sassy humor. Some of the best touches in the movie are Stark’s interactions with J.A.R.V.I.S, his A.I. assistant, and the robots in his workshop that seem to have personalities despite an inability to talk.

The case for Captain America 

Captain America has a more cohesive, polished story, being unable to rely mainly on action scenes, cool technology and special effects (which it still has some great special effects). Captain America’s story is more inspiring, a story about an underdog becoming a champion, but more importantly is that even when he was the underdog, he did everything he could to stand up to bullies. Tony Stark became a hero partially because of guilt, but Steve Rogers was a hero, and he simply gained the ability to fight injustice more effectively. 

The attention to historical detail, especially the propaganda shows and films, was delightful. Another example is the reference made to Agent Peggy Carter’s struggle to prove herself as a woman in the military in that time period; the film acknowledges the difficulty, but doesn’t indulge in axe-grinding or repaint history to suit the story. 

Finally, Captain America is a team player and a good leader, who trusts those around him to know their jobs and do their parts without needing to be the main, overwhelming hero. Even in a situation where it appears that he has gone into battle alone, it’s merely a ploy, and when his team arrives to offer backup, he continues to give his all, right alongside them. 

Poking Holes—spoilers ahead 

There were a few points in each film which need to be addressed in the argument about which is better. Some spoilers may lay ahead. 

The biggest drawback in Iron Man was at the end when Stane paralyzes Tony Stark instead of killing him. He was unstable enough that he didn’t mind endangering innocent people, as shown by his lack of qualms in selling weapons to the enemy and by picking up a carful of bystanders to use as a weapon while wearing his super suit. Stane also killed the terrorist group that was in his way, so why not his biggest threat Tony Stark who was helpless before him?  

Less critical, but still a thorn in the female viewer’s side, is why did Christine Everheart, a reporter from Vanity Fair, who is otherwise portrayed as an intelligent, determined woman, fall for a mediocre come-on from Tony Stark? Captain America’s Carter is a far better “strong female character” than Everheart or even Potts. 

The antagonists in Captain America are just as imperfect as Stane. Although Stane has some surprises, Dr. Arnim Zola and Obergruppenführer Johann Schmidt aka “The Red Skull” are both stereotypical “bad guys” with little surprises, depth or growth. Additionally, how were they able to comprehend the Tesseract well enough in order to adapt it to their technology and build upon the power it afforded? 

Another minor irritation, this time on Captain America’s part, is that Tommy Lee Jones plays the same character in this movie as he does in movies such as The Fugitive and Men in Black. He plays the role well, and it’s a funny character, but not very original. 


The editorial staff were locked dead even on which was the better movie. Although Iron Man brought in more money in its opening weekend (USA), Captain America had a bigger increase of revenue from the opening weekend to its cumulative worldwide gross. Iron Man fights the terrorists, but Captain America fights the Nazis. However, the people have spoken; both internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes shows Iron Man as the clear favorite, so Iron Man will go on to the next round. 

Best Quotes 

Iron Man  Captain America: The First Avenger 
“I am Iron Man.”  

Tony Stark 

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies. I don’t care where they come from.” 

Steve Rogers  

“Don’t waste it. Don’t waste your life.” 

Dr. Ho Yinsen 

“Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. You will stay who you are, not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” 

Dr. Abraham Erskine 

“Tony Stark was able to build this in a cave! With a box of scraps!” 

Obidiah Stane 

“Well, there are already so many big men fighting this war. Maybe what we need now is a little guy.” 

Dr. Abraham Erskine