With “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan’s three-film reboot of DC Comics’ Batman franchise is now a piece of history.
“It’s a little bittersweet,” said Nolan’s co-writer and brother, Jonathan Nolan. “But it’s the right way to do it.”
Sunday was purportedly the final press conference for “The Dark Knight Rises,” although Nolan admitted that Warner Bros. would probably “love for them to keep doing this forever.” At this point, that seems unlikely (although Nolan’s made no promises about his future beyond taking a vacation). So here are highlights from what is likely to be Nolan & Co.’s last press conference for the “Dark Knight” franchise, ahead of the latest film’s release July 20.
Money doesn’t change everything.
In five years, Christopher Nolan went from the $5 million budget of “Memento” in 2000 to the $150 million budget of “Batman Begins.” But he says that while the scale changed, the filmmaking didn’t.
“From starting on the smaller films, as we did, to these bigger films, I like to think the process has always been reassuringly familiar,” he said. “Even though you’re there on set, you’re job as a director is to ignore the scale of things and pay attention to how you’re going to get the shot that best furthers the story. I found that process to be more similar across the board than it is different.”
Star Christian Bale’s feelings on the Batman suit have evolved from claustrophobia to separation anxiety.
“The first time I put on that suit I thought, ‘Oh, Chris has to recast,'” said Bale. “Because the thing was so claustrophobic – I couldn’t think, I couldn’t breathe. I told everyone to just give me 20 minutes and leave me alone. But it grew to be a part of me and eventually was really fun. After the last scene we shot where I wore the suit, I did the same thing and just asked everyone to give me 20 minutes, and I sat there realizing we were done.”
For Nolan, it wasn’t about topping “The Dark Knight,” it was about giving audiences a reason to come back to Gotham City.
“Once we knew that we had a story that we would want to see, where the story was going to go and how we were going to finish this, then everything else started to fall into place. I think you have to forget that pressure [of living up to or surpassing your previous film] and just get on track to make the best story you can.”
Michael Caine wasn’t initially drawn to “Batman.”
“I was at home on a Sunday when I got a knock on my door from Chris [Nolan] with a script in his hand. I recognized him from his first two films and thought, ‘Oh, it’s going to be a lovely little thriller we’re going to do here.’ When he told me it was ‘Batman Begins,’ I realized it was going to be a great big movie. I knew I was too old to play Batman and he couldn’t want me to play Catwoman, but I didn’t really see myself as The Butler. When I read the script – that same morning, because Chris said he had to leave with the script – I was stunned by the writing. They were real people with real relationships and it was real drama. I said Yes right away.”
Bale believes that Nolan’s achievement with “Dark Knight” equals that of Batman’s creator, Bob Kane.
“I think Chris has an ability to make his movies very topical, and like Bob Kane’s creation of Batman in 1939, which I think was an answer to the uselessness that people felt against the huge tragedy of WWII, I think Chris has returned Batman to that. Also, I’ve done a few big-scale films that carried just a pure entertainment aspect to them – the rollercoaster ride and that was it – which, respectfully, I don’t think they did what Chris has managed to do [with “The Dark Knight Rises”]. This is more than just entertainment, if you choose to see that.”