Christopher Nolan is known for making complex, intricate and intelligent blockbusters on a scale that most other filmmakers would never be afforded, and while you wouldn’t exactly call his most recent projects family-friendly entertainment, the filmmaker has always designed his movies to appeal to the widest possible audience.
His first three efforts, Following, Memento and Insomnia may have been R-rated, but over the last two decades Nolan has remained firmly in the PG-13 realm in an effort to make sure as many people as possible can see his movies, even though the likes of Interstellar, Dunkirk and Tenet are hardly going to appeal to the same sort of demographic as the rest of the industry’s mega budget effects-heavy fare.
Of course, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the filmmaker’s two biggest box office hits have Batman as the lead character, with The Dark Knight and sequel The Dark Knight Rises both earning over a billion dollars apiece. The conclusion to the trilogy left a lot of people disappointed, sure, but any movie would struggle to live up to the expectations that came with being the follow-up to what many regard as the greatest comic book film ever made.
The Dark Knight Trilogy might be grounded, realistic and frequently grim, but it was never overly violent. However, star Matthew Modine has revealed in a recent interview that his character’s death in Rises had to be changed after Nolan’s original plans turned out to be far too gruesome to include in a PG-13 blockbuster.
“He cut my death scene out of Dark Knight Rises. Because he said it was so violent that it would have gotten an NC-17 rating. All it does is, it just cuts, and I’m on the ground, dead. But it was so violent. The guy that was doubling me got hit by the car. They put a plexiglass thing on the front of the car and he got hit. They had ropes to pull him into the air, but he went up and they dropped him from about 15 feet, and the sound of his body hitting the cobblestone street in front of the New York Stock Exchange, it was sickening. And I remember I looked at Christopher Nolan when we shot it and his face was white. He was like, ‘OK, let’s move on. We got that’. But it was like, ‘Oh my God, is that guy going to get up? Is he okay?’. But Nolan said that if he would have put it in the movie, it would’ve got an NC-17 rating because it was so violent.”
Nolan can do pretty much whatever he wants at this stage in his career, but releasing The Dark Knight Rises as a grisly NC-17 rated movie probably would have been one step too far, even for him.