What with Avengers: Infinity War blazing past it at the domestic box office, and pop culture aficionado, Patton Oswalt, sharing a highly viable theory regarding its iconic villain, Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight has frequently been in the headlines over the last seven days or so. I suppose as we are approaching the ten-year anniversary of the film opening in theaters – July 18th, 2008 – it’s only fitting.
Continually deemed the benchmark for superhero cinema, Nolan’s unforgettable sequel to Batman Begins has stood the test of time, and the five-time Academy Award nominee discussed his take on the Caped Crusader with Variety late last week. Among other things, he cited the “strong impulses” and “humanity” of Bruce Wayne as the reasons why he gravitated towards the project in the first place.
“Yes, it’s a superhero, but it’s based on ideas of guilt, fear, these strong impulses that the character has. Bruce Wayne doesn’t have any superpowers other than extraordinary wealth. But really, he’s just someone who does a lot of push-ups. In that sense, he’s very relatable and human. I think that’s why I gravitated towards it.”
Nolan continued, explaining that each film in his trilogy is based on a different genre and tend to be defined by the villain.
“To me, each film is a different genre. They tend to be defined by the villain… We hadn’t planned on doing a sequel. So shifting genres and the nature of the antagonist felt the way to take the audience on a journey and tell them something different about Bruce Wayne.”
During the interview, the director also explicated that he saw 2005’s Batman Begins as a straightforward origin story, making Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) an “appropriate adversary…he’s a mentor-turned-enemy.”
As for The Dark Knight, Nolan envisioned a “crime drama in the mould of a Michael Mann film. The Joker was a terrorist, an agent of chaos set loose,” and with The Dark Knight Rises, he visualized “this historical epic. Bane as a militarist foe helped that.”
Unfortunately, we won’t ever get to see Bruce Wayne back in action under the guidance of Nolan. The Matt Reeves-directed The Batman, which has yet to kick off production, is likely the next time any of us will see the iconic cowl on the big screen again. In the meantime, though, the DC fandom can at least take solace in the fact that The Dark Knight remains the epitome of superhero cinema.