Christopher Nolan Talks Revealingly About His Batman Trilogy And Offers Advice To The Next Batman Director

The esteemed director touches on a number of subjects in this podcast interview with Empire Magazine. Was there ever a 4-hr cut, how far ahead was the trilogy planned and what advice does he have for the next Batman director?

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By Mark Julian - 7/21/2012


Nolan on starting the franchise all the way back in 2003 and if he knew where the franchise was going to go from the start.

NOLAN: I certainly wasn't that forward thinking. I really, only dared think about what Batman Begins was going to be just because I'm a bit superstitious and I didn't want to make any assumptions about what people would think of that film, whether people would want to see my take on the character on a longer term. So, with each of the three films, we really just tried to tell everything we had to say about that character in that film as if it was the one chance we had to deal with the characters.

How does he feel to be at the end of that journey which started back in 2003. Exhausted? Relieved?

NOLAN: Certainly a little tired. I don't know about relieved, I suppose you always feel relieved at different times of a big film, to be finished with a particular part of the process. But then you have the tension.....or the pressure of the next stage, in this case, we're about to put the film out all over the world and see what the fans think. So it's a mixture of a bit of relief, then more pressure, anxiety, then a bit more relief. Once the film has been out for a couple of months and people have really had the chance to tell me what it is, at that point, I'll think its finished.

Nolan on Christian Bale's performance across all three films.

NOLAN: I think Christian, in his performance, is very consistent to maintaining the truth of what's happened to [Bruce Wayne] and where that might lead him, what impulses that's driven him towards. I think he's never strayed far from those original ideas, those original concerns and I think it means that if people do take the time and the trouble to watch those three films together, they'll see a pretty amazing achievement in the performance from Christian Bale.

Why Nolan decided to take the risk of having an 8 year gap between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises?

NOLAN: It's partly about a physical and emotional toll and it's partly about being true to the end of [The Dark Knight]. What you have at the end of The Dark Knight is an ending that hangs very much on substantial sacrifice to achieve a certain end and for that to have meaning, it has to work in some sense, it has to have been successful. And I didn't want to just abandon that and pick up a new story with a whole new set of ideas. So for me, that lead to the 8 year gap, it lead to the idea of Bruce Wayne, shut away in self-imposed exile because he's hung up his cape and cowl. He's living in a world, at least superficially, that doesn't need Batman but he hasn't moved on, he hasn't moved on as Alfred points out, he hasn't moved on emotionally or in a practical sense.

What Nolan finds most interesting about Batman.

NOLAN: One of things I find the most interesting about Batman is that because he works on the wrong side of the law, because he's a vigilante, you're never really far of the issue of the means and ends. You're never really far from the idea of what is acceptable in terms of fighting crime, in terms of trying to restore the world to some sense of good. And in the first film its very much about corruption about an environment so corrupt that Bruce Wayne couldn't work inside the established structures of the law and he had to move outside it. And that was very important to being able to accept the idea of vigilantism. And I think where we get to, through the next two films, and I think what The Dark Knight Rises really picks up, is the idea of that concept. Working outside the law has become more and more acceptable to Commissioner Gordon. It's become institutionalized in a sense with the lie about Harvey Dent and so the film really picks up with saying 'if we did that in the real world, if that where an underlying lie which prosperity is based on, is that really going to work?'

On the rumors of an initial 4-hr cut?

NOLAN: It's not true at all. [On the internet] you read a lot of crazy things. I don't think I would want to sit through a four hour version of this movie (laughs). As a writer/director, its pretty easy for me to be precise about the running time and length. I think with each film, I told the studio how long the film was going to be 2 years ahead of time and arrived on the money. Its because I can work things out on paper which is more efficient than shooting them and then editing them out. Which is why there's no deleted scenes on the DVD's of the film. With Lee Smith, who is a supremely talented editor who can compress and knows about storytelling in a precise space of time, aided considerably by Hans Zimmerand his score. What I've demanded of Hans over the years is for him to be able to bind together very disparate threads of narrative so that you can tell a crowded story, frankly, almost as a montage even though there's narrative.

On the end of The Dark Knight Rises which feels like an ending but also maybe a beginning?

NOLAN: We shouldn't talk about the end.

Nolan's advice to the person Warner Bros. hires to direct the reboot.

NOLAN: The only advice I would have is that...when I first met with Paul Levitz of DC Comics prior to Batman Begins, he explained to me clearly that Batman, of all superheroes, has thrived on reinterpretation and almost is strengthened by it. And I'm talking about over the years in the comic books but also in the movies. So when the time is right, whenever someone does whatever the next iteration of the character is, they simply need to be true to whatever it is they want to see, to what they believe in, not worry too much about what everyone else is telling them it should be.

This only scratches the surface of the awesome podcast from Empire. Nolan also touches on the work of Frank Miller and referencing Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween. Catwoman is also examined and Nolan extrapolates eloquently about what his feelings about the character are and what Anne Hathaway brought to the role. He also talks about Gary Oldman and sort of infers that the role of Commissioner Gordon was expanded because of his phenomenal talent. Be sure to listen to the audio below to hear the words and context from Nolan himself. [The interview with Nolan begins at the 37-minute mark]

Chris Nolan says 'NO' to a Justice League movie.
CBM Quiz: Test Your Christopher Nolan Batman Knowledge

Running Time: 2 hrs 45 min
Release Date: July 20 2012 (USA)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Starring: Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Juno Temple, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan (screenplay), David S. Goyer (story)

The Dark Knight Rises is an upcoming superhero film directed by Christopher Nolan, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Jonathan Nolan and the story with David S. Goyer. Based on the DC Comics character Batman, the film will be the third installment in Nolan's Batman film series, and is a sequel to Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). The Dark Knight Rises is intended to be the conclusion of the series. It stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman. The film will take place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight and will introduce the characters of Selina Kyle and Bane—portrayed by Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy, respectively—two villains from the Batman mythology.

Source: Empire Online
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Tony93 - 7/21/2012, 2:15 PM
Thank you Chris Nolan..
But about the next Batman..
I'm sure it will bring in loads of more money if they ever are going to do a JL movie that Christian Bale would be in it.. I don't see there being a better Batman without making it look cheesy and goofy..
So idk.. Bale in the JL Most likely won't happen..
Anyways I'm glad to see him working on my fav superhero next..
Godspeed Nolan
DraculaX - 7/21/2012, 2:17 PM
Thank you Mr. Nolan for bringing the Batman franchise back from the dead.
MitchConner - 7/21/2012, 2:26 PM
"we shouldn't talk about the end...because I was bluffing the whole time! See you in 4 years bitches!"
bobevanz - 7/21/2012, 2:26 PM
Its your time to shine kevin smith!
Minotauro - 7/21/2012, 2:30 PM
You done well, Nolan. Hopefully you can bring DD out of irrelevancy if Marvel pays you pretty good.
Minotauro - 7/21/2012, 2:31 PM
@Bobevanz - That made no sense.
NOLANITE - 7/21/2012, 2:31 PM
We shouldnt talk about the end.....

Because He Left it open...In a way.
He wont be back.
manymade1 - 7/21/2012, 2:31 PM
Yeah sorry, but for anyone to even think of touching a new Batman film series after Nolans trilogy is something that would require an IQ of -50.
ManofSteel23 - 7/21/2012, 2:31 PM
I really wonder what they are gonna do with the reboot of batman,I wonder if they carry it on from the end of RISES,or just do a the amazing spiderman move by just acting like the past films never existed
GoILL - 7/21/2012, 2:33 PM
@TicklerMan LOL that was pretty good.
SmellofDuty - 7/21/2012, 2:33 PM
@remindkevin I would freaking love that! Haha
Talontd - 7/21/2012, 2:33 PM
Yea, let's just hope the next guy "believes in" the SOURCE MATERIAL...
Talontd - 7/21/2012, 2:34 PM
LMFAO @TicklerMan
StormLoganSummers - 7/21/2012, 2:35 PM
He offered some good advice.
GUNSMITH - 7/21/2012, 2:35 PM

Thegeekygurl - 7/21/2012, 2:35 PM
I saw the movie and loved it. Heres a You Tube video I just found.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NOT FOR KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Talontd - 7/21/2012, 2:36 PM
I think the Internet would IMPLODE if JOSS WHEDON rebooted the BATMAN series in 10yrs...

...fanboys jumping out of windows and sh!t, lol.
Havok2 - 7/21/2012, 2:38 PM
Good job Nolan, you made us proud.

And nice article ;)
musashi - 7/21/2012, 2:39 PM
Empire magazine: Christpoher Nolan and Ice-T? Next movie - Iceman? Lol
Lazyfan - 7/21/2012, 2:40 PM
@Minotauro He is saying Kevin Smith will direct Batman Reboot which would be epic lol. But seriously doubt them hiring him
Arrow1991 - 7/21/2012, 2:40 PM
It would be interesting to see a Batman Beyond movie with Terry McGinnis who has revived the role of Batman. Under the supervision of an elderly Bruce Wayne, he fights crime in a harsh futuristic Gotham.
GoILL - 7/21/2012, 2:40 PM
Cool interview especially liked this part:

The only advice I would have is that...when I first met with Paul Levitz of DC Comics prior to Batman Begins, he explained to me clearly that Batman, of all superheroes, has thrived on reinterpretation and almost is strengthened by it. And I'm talking about over the years in the comic books but also in the movies. So when the time is right, whenever someone does whatever the next iteration of the character is, they simply need to be true to whatever it is they want to see, to what they believe in, not worry too much about what everyone else is telling them it should be.

Hopefully whoever does the next one won't go the Schumacher route.
SHHH - 7/21/2012, 2:47 PM
Keep Kevin Smith And Joss Away From Any Future Bat Films..
GUNSMITH - 7/21/2012, 2:48 PM



Minotauro - 7/21/2012, 2:48 PM
@Talontd - No comic book movie other than "300 & Watchmen" have stayed close to the source material. That's why he said...

"he explained to me clearly that Batman, of all superheroes, has thrived on REINTERPRETATION and almost is strengthened by it. And I'm talking about over the years in the comic books but also in the movies. So when the time is right, whenever someone does whatever the next iteration of the character is, they simply need to be true to whatever it is they want to see, to what they believe in, not worry too much about what everyone else is telling them it should be."

Mego - 7/21/2012, 2:49 PM
It's really time for Nolan's type of Superhero films to end.
I'm not attacking him like some do, but this movie was just more of his bleak, depressing, worlds going to end style that's just not fun or entertaining.
Its like going to a theme park where you get shot at or go on rides that recreate death camps.
If he wants to tell such stories maybe he should make movies about War or other horrible events.
Its curious that Inception and Batman Begins didnt have that tone, but now it seems he sees Batman as an all out tragedy story.
Loved Batman Begins, Inception and TDK, and really like TDKR, but I'm ready for a better version of Batman.
Mego - 7/21/2012, 2:51 PM
@SetGecko I agree. I needed a good laugh!
AsianVersionOfET - 7/21/2012, 2:52 PM
I feel bad for whoever does the next one.
Minotauro - 7/21/2012, 2:54 PM
@Darkmetal - A better version of batman there won't be one. His story is all the same. Just different villains. What if the reboot tanks critically. Will be back to square one again.
Thegeekygurl - 7/21/2012, 2:55 PM
@SetGecko Yeah its awesome and really----NOT FOR KIDS!!!--So I hope they dont watch. lol I stumbled upon it while looking for TDKR video on You Tube. Saw it the other night but its sold out so Im looking at videos.
RorMachine - 7/21/2012, 3:00 PM
As much as I love his take on Batman, it is in no way the definite one. I believe he is faithful to the source material from a character standpoint, but I admit he also takes quite a few big liberties. So I look forward to seeing what someone else does..BUT, from a purely film making standpoint I really think whoever it is has their work cut out.
Tony93 - 7/21/2012, 3:01 PM
there is no other better batman they can interpret..
its gonna be a helluva job trying to make something better than the nolan trilogy
Tony93 - 7/21/2012, 3:01 PM
considering the source materials..^
Minotauro - 7/21/2012, 3:02 PM
@Ror - Who do you want to be the villains in the reboot. I'm hoping for Mr. Freeze. He needs redemption.
TheBatman50k - 7/21/2012, 3:05 PM
I loved Nolan's trilogy and the ending is perfect. I love all three films equally and hope that the next person to take up the mantel can do it as well as Nolan.
TheBatman50k - 7/21/2012, 3:05 PM
I also believe that Nolan really set the bar high for Batman.
ThePowerCosmic - 7/21/2012, 3:15 PM
Right on RorMachine! I like these movies but I still would like to see a Batman world that can include Killer Croc, Black Mask and Clayface. I think there is a lot of room for another take on Batman. I would like one that kicks but a little more than Nolan's. He never seems to triumph over the villain.
Mego - 7/21/2012, 3:16 PM
@RorMachine It's not important to follow comics. But I'd like to see a Batman more like the one in Batman Begins. Not just a guy who gets victimized over and over.
The Batman in Begins was never really built on, he was torn down, piece by piece. But that was what Nolan wanted to do.
Now its time for someone else to make Batman the badass hes meant to be. And a director who can bring some fun into the mix.
Not dissing Nolan. He got the rare chance to do a superhero trilogy as he wanted. I saw his vision and loved most of it.
I'm just ready for a new vision, but not Whedons Hannibal Lector/villain crap that he wanted.
Maybe Zach Snyder has a Batman take to offer.
95 - 7/21/2012, 3:19 PM
Thank you. That was a great trilogy. And the best Batman films to date. I'm very excited for more. I'm so exhausted from Rises that I would be fine with a ten-year wait. And I'm sure the next creative team will learn from the accomplishment and mistakes of every Batman tale and make a truly definitive adaptation.

Paul Levitz of DC Comics speaks the truth.
GUNSMITH - 7/21/2012, 3:20 PM
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