I had the opportunity and good fortune to sit down with director Christopher Nolan last week during some Oscar luncheons to discuss this week’s release of “The Dark Knight Rises” and the complete “Dark Knight Rises Trilogy” on Blu-ray/DVD. Ever the well-coiffed and relatable gentleman, Nolan is obviously known for his secrecy, but I was struck with how carefully he jiu jitsu’d around certain questions without ever coming across as deeply cagey. Instead, perhaps like his silent and swift ‘Dark Knight Rises’ protagonist, it’s as if he shook your hand with a smile and moments later you realized your wallet was gone.
After a 30-minute conversation mostly centering around his Batman trilogy (which we’ll have for you soon), I had inquire about Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” on which he serves as executive producer. I asked the filmmaker if he was done with superhero films and suggested that Warner Bros. might want him to produce the “Justice League” film and perhaps take a Joss Whedon-like role in godfathering the future of the studio’s D.C. Comics films. He laughed softly at the mention of him akin to Whedon’s role, but then talked around the questions: “Well, as I’ve said, and I’ll say definitively again, I am done with the Batman films, the trilogy is completed. It ended in the manner we had envisioned.”
As for if he’s done with the superhero genre, the filmmaker again playfully evaded. “Well, I’m producing Superman now and I’m enjoying time off and taking a break,” he said with a smile.
The Batman films and in particular “The Dark Knight Rises” caused a furor in some circles with fans who thought the ending — (**spolier alert** if you somehow haven’t seen these films) — wherein Batman/Bruce Wayne faked his own death and sacrificed himself in the name of Gotham, hoping the symbol of Batman would carry on with the idealist detective John Blake — was somehow antithetical to the spirit of Batman. As we were parting, I asked him if he saw the ending as “radical.”
“Radical? Hmm, yes, perhaps for the comic book fans it was,” he said with a pause, “But I think it was appropriate ending for the story we set out to tell.”
As for “Man of Steel,” which looks like it’s very much part of the Nolan-verse — i.e. a reinterpretation of the iconic Superman story only grounded in a more realistic and plausible world — the director said they won’t be as similar as you think. “Well, somewhat,” he said when asked if Superman fits into the brand of standalone superhero universe we’ve come to know from him. “But I wouldn’t want people to think we’re doing for Superman what we did for Batman.”
“It’s very much Zack’s film and I think people are going to love what he’s done,” he continued. “I think it’s really remarkable to take on that character. Superman is a completely different character than Batman. So you can’t in anyway use the same template. But David Goyer had this, I thought, brilliant way to make Superman relatable and relevant for his audience. Zack has built on that and I think it’s incredible what he’s putting together. He’s got a lot of finishing to do on that. Superman is the biggest comic book character of them all and he needs the biggest possible movie version which is what Zack’s doing. It’s really something.”
More from this interview later this week. “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Dark Knight Trilogy” is out on Blu-ray/DVD starting today.