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.
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