Learning From the Christopher Nolan and The Dark Knight Trilogy (Redux)

Learning From the Christopher Nolan and The Dark Knight Trilogy (Redux)

Christopher Nolan has given significant contributions to the art of film-making and many directors can learn from him - not through following the "dark tone" he is known for - but his creative mindset. Though it may seem like a Nolanite article, it really isn't.

In 1997, following the critical failure known as Batman and Robin, the reputation of Batman had been all but ruined. The abundance of (dare I say) stupidity within the movie had put a bad taste in many people's mouths. This proved to be bad for the character as everything Batman related was regarded with disgust.

However, this all changed in 2005 when Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer conceived the Dark Knight franchise; a series of movies with the foundation of a dark tone, humanity, and realism. Unsurprisingly, every movie in the series was met positively by critics and fans alike. The good that Nolan has done for the character lies beyond merely making Batman dark and realistic, but he also made Batman relevant again - he made Batman "cool".

I, like many Batman and comic book fans, (rightfully) view each film from the Dark Knight trilogy as a golden standard for CBMs. Which is why nowadays, you often see your heroes or comic book movies being rebooted in a "darker or more realistic way like Batman". There is a lot that directors can learn and borrow from Christopher Nolan but I feel as if they aren't truly finding the key to success by simply stealing the realistic nature or dark tone of the movie. Rather, instead of stealing the aforementioned aspects, directors should try borrowing (what I think) the key to Nolan's success - his mindset and bravery.

While writing Batman Begins, Nolan and Goyer claimed that many people didn't like the direction of the story. Their Gotham City and their Batman were somewhat de-powered, vulnerable, and more realistic as opposed to the fantastic, stylized and powerful Batman and Gotham in the comic books; which most people were accustomed to at the time. The two writers also took many creative liberties with the story such as using characters in a different way (Ra's al Ghul) or by making up characters entirely (Rachel Dawes). Despite the apparent criticisms, the two followed through with the idea and created Batman Begins, which proved to be the "best" Batman adaptation at the time.

Christopher Nolan showed that fortitude and confidence are key in achieving your desired movie and even stated that "no one should ever tell you how to make your movie". We've seen even the great directors such as Sam Raimi who faltered under the pressure of rabid fans and movie executives. Nolan shows that at the end of the day (or rather at the end of pre production), it shouldn't be movie authorities who decide the outcome of the movie, but the directors who should start recognizing themselves as the masters of the character's creative destiny.

Nolan and crew also exemplified brave creativity as they were willing enough to use their artistic licenses to provide a new, fresh, and entertaining take on an age old character. This is especially important in our time - the age of the reboot - as directors often struggle to bring an innovative take on the character because they fear that it won't be close enough to the comics.

Furthermore, it should be noted that Christopher Nolan never really went with the flow of what was popular with the superhero genre at the time. This is really ironic in today's situation. Consider this :

1) Nolan created a successful superhero movie that was unique and didn't go with the flow of the popular superheroes.
2) Directors nowadays want recreate the positive reaction that the Dark Knight trilogy had for their own superhero movies.
3) Directors completely go (albeit subtly) with the flow of the currently popular "dark tone and realistic feel"

The dark tone and realism were only successful with the Dark Knight trilogy because those were some of Batman's strengths to begin with. Instead of going with a popular directing style, Nolan capitalized on the character's and story's strengths. The current situation of superheros becoming darker greatly disappoints me because it means that though people are looking for inspiration from Nolan, they are looking for it in all the wrong places.

Lastly, the reason why the quality of trilogy never truly declined as each movie was released; was because the writer and director let the story come to them. Instead of aggressively and hastily penning a story in order to meet a deadline of a sequel for an already pre-planned trilogy, the writers waited for a story to dawn upon them and a vigor/motivation to direct the movie. In fact, initially, Nolan was content with there only being two movies in the series unless he had an idea for a fitting conclusion. A hastily penned lackluster story isn't always the directors fault, but rather the producers who have odd obsessions with trilogies and making immediate sequel deadlines. I just hope these producers learn that series' don't have to be trilogies. Who's to say that series' cant be 2, or 4, or 5 movies? And they should recognize that all good and well thought of stories take time, not pressure.

Am I saying that Christopher Nolan created definitive Batman movies? Though I do think so, that is not the point of the article. What I'm trying to say is that it is wrong to think that a director can pull of another "Dark Knight" trilogy with another superhero if they are simply stealing aspects from the movie. Instead of finding inspiration from Nolan's elements of storytelling, they need to follow his mindset and attitude to the film making art if they want to follow in his path.


This may really come across as a "Nolanite" article, but it's not. I just believe in giving credit where it's due and I just wanted to show whoever may be reading that Hollywood is making mistakes by trying to rip off the Dark Knight.


What did you think of the article? Any constructive criticism and opinions are very welcome.If you enjoyed this, please thumbs up! Thank you for reading!!!
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FrozenJoy - 11/22/2012, 3:22 PM
SpiderJerk = Nolanite
FrozenJoy - 11/22/2012, 3:26 PM
Batman Begins was a great reboot. The Dark Knight was a great sequel. But, TDKR was a HUGE disappointment in my opinion. That ruined this trilogy for me.
FrozenJoy - 11/22/2012, 3:26 PM
Great article btw.
FrozenJoy - 11/22/2012, 5:02 PM
STFU you can't handle criticism.
yourdaddy - 11/22/2012, 5:13 PM
1) hiring nic cage for ghost rider was brave. didn't mean it was any good.

2) change isn't always for the best, just like it isn't always for the worst.

3) 'dark and gritty' isn't the only way to success, critical or commercial. proof? avengers. faithful to the comics, pleased both fans and critics alike. third highest grossing film of all time.

4) the story of TDKR was beyond contrived. there was nothing organic about the progression to it from TDK.

i liked nolan's batfilms. but you are close-minded nolanite trash.
Preston - 11/22/2012, 5:49 PM
I've read your other articles [plural], and you always mention the same thing more or less that the best types of superhero movies are the non-superhero/superhero movies; a director that takes a broad outline of a comic-book story and transforms them to his own purpose.

You aren't alone. In fact, Roger Ebert says that the best comic-book movie is a “comic book movie for people who wouldn't be caught dead at a comic book movie.”

This brings me to the following, why should we shun the fantasy found in movies that appeals to the comic-book loving nerd, after the success of movies like Avengers, Spider-Man 2, Iron Man, etc? These movies also connect with movie audiences without separating themselves completely from the source material. So, apparently, there is a balance that can be achieved without alienating the fan base and appealing to general movie audiences.

Worlds Finest
I don't think that every single superhero movie should share the same tone; what attracts fans to Superman isn't what attracts fans to Batman. And, I'm not sure that making Superman dark and brooding will be universally accepted.

I think its harder to hit chords that appeal to both sectors of the population (fans and non-fans) simultaneously. However, I believe that those are the ones that are loved universally.
GoodGuy - 11/22/2012, 9:36 PM
I knew I'd get a lot of criticism (which is okay) but i think many of you missed the point. The point wasn't about Nolan making the best batman movies ever...

I never said Nolan's formula would guarantee a perfect movie. I didn't even want to try to convince you that his movies were the perfect adaptation. I just said that if directors want inspiration, don't steal his "dark tone". It is not creative and unoriginal.
jimmyjay88 - 11/22/2012, 11:20 PM

I would argue with you that Batman is not the only dark superhero so why should be doing a dark super hero movie be a copy of Nolans batman. I would argue that the dark superhero movies started with Blade back in the 90s and going by your way of thinking Nolans Batman films stole the dark theme from Blade

I also feel let down by TDKR it had a lot of flaws and was no were near the caliber of Batman Begins or TDKR
GoodGuy - 11/23/2012, 12:34 AM

I never said Batman was the only dark hero. I just said that if ever directors choose to be like Nolan, they should follow his train of thought rather than story elements.

And yes TDKR may not have been on the same level as BB or TDK but that wasn't really part of my argument
GoodGuy - 11/23/2012, 12:50 AM

I am being criticized for a lot of things that neither I nor the article said. I never said TDKR was the best film ever. Though i did state my opinion, my argument is not that The Dark Knight Trilogy defined batman. I never said that Christopher Nolan the best director ever. I never said following his mindset would be a guaranteed formula for success.

Whether we like to admit it or not, Nolan does have some influence on future CBMs (especially the realistic ones). My point is that stealing the tone of his movies won't recreate his success - it's unoriginal and annoying. If they do want to take inspiration from Nolan, they should learn from his mindset instead.

Please don't dismiss me for a Nolanite just because I complimented Nolan and thought that others could learn from him.
GoodGuy - 11/23/2012, 9:35 AM

Look man, I said that directors that take inspiration from Nolan won't be able to replicate his success by just doing a dark movie. I clearly tried to say that learning from a mindset is always better than stealing film aspects.

Did you see me saying that he invented the dark tone anywhere in this article? With all due respect, read the article objectively and NEVER EVER make assumptions about someone's message if he didn't say it in the article - especially when he clarifies his statements.

No offense, but you come across as a real jerk trying to put words into my mouth.
GoodGuy - 11/23/2012, 9:47 AM

This is my thesis or my main argument: "There is a lot that directors can learn and borrow from Christopher Nolan but I feel as if they aren't truly finding the key to success by simply stealing the realistic nature or dark tone of the movie"

Here is my conclusion that relates back to my main point: "What I'm trying to say is that it is wrong to think that a director can pull of another "Dark Knight" trilogy with another superhero if they are simply stealing aspects from the movie"

MY main point isn't the dark knight trilogy is the perfect adaptation of batman. Nor is it that Nolan is the best director. It isn't about Nolan inventing the dark tone. It also isn't about directors being copycats.

What I was conveying through my article is where the directors can find inspiration.
CaptainAmerica31 - 11/23/2012, 6:58 PM
Marvelites pissing their panties putting words into @spiderjerks mouth...@halloweenjack
CaptainAmerica31 - 11/23/2012, 7:02 PM
"Nolan's not good so stop defending him, marvels better"-halloweenjack
batfan175 - 11/24/2012, 7:19 AM
@Avengers12: then you're stupid because those two movues on their own are, by your own admission, great films. It does not mean that because you felt that the 3rd film was underwhelming that the first two films suddenly are bad films.
blite32 - 11/24/2012, 5:10 PM
The Avengers and TDKR are both different movies. People need to stop comparing them. It's like comparing Titanic and Anchorman
GoodGuy - 11/24/2012, 6:41 PM

Thank you for that, man. I finally saw a happy thing in the midst of a s***storm. No offense to the others, but I actually think they read through half the article and saw the compliments and then immediately dismissed me as a Nolanite.

Either that, or i'm not conveying my message well enough. But if that's the case, someone should say so instead of calling someone "close-minded Nolanite trash"
Jollem - 11/25/2012, 12:26 AM
nice article, SpiderJerk

how dare a fan of nolan's batman movies talk about them on a site called comicbookmovie.com. shame on you. #sarcasm

"nolanite" is just name-calling

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