By Matt Singer | Criticwire July 19, 2012 at 3:37PM
To paraphrase one of my brilliant Twitter followers: Batman's whole schtick is he doesn't kill people, and yet all Batman fans want to do is kill people, specifically any critics who dare to dislike (or even mildly enjoy) "The Dark Knight Rises." It started with Marshall Fine, moved on to Christy Lemire, and continued to Eric D. Snider (who pulled a prank in order to point out the absurdity of threatening critics, which, naturally, sparked its own absurd threats). The severity of fans' abuse has sparked a lot of media coverage all over the world, and at the London premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," director Christopher Nolan was asked for his reaction. According to a report by the Associated Press' Reetu Rupal, Nolan "was quick to defend fans' heated response to the reviews."
"I think the fans are very passionate about these characters the way a lot of people are very passionate. Batman's been around for over 70 years and there's a reason for that. He has a huge appeal, so I think you know people certainly respond to the character."
A lot of people (myself included) have been waiting for Nolan to say something about Batfans' excessive mistreatment of critics. Around the Internet and on social media, observers began to speculate whether or not this comment essentially condoned antisocial behavior. That prompted an editorial by Movies.com's Erik Davis defending Nolan against complaints that he had given fans the tacit OK to threaten critics. His argument:
"We don't know the question that lead to his answer since it's not part of the story. It's saying he's defending 'fans' heated response,' but that could've easily been added to capitalize on the popularity of the Rotten Tomatoes thing... As an exercise, here are a number of other questions that could've lead to that same answer: 1. Why do you think this franchise has become so popular over the years? 2. Do you think the fans have had a lot to do with the success of all three of your Batman movies? 3. What do you think about how vocal the fanbase has become?"
Davis' point is speculative, but valid: Rupal's article does not specify the question Nolan answered. It's possible he was asked directly about critics and death threats; it's also possible he was asked a more general question about fandom's anticipation for the film. Jumping to conclusions about what Nolan said, and what he said it about, is nearly as productive as jumping to conclusions about something a critic says before you've seen the movie for yourself.
On the other hand, it's possible the AP's question was direct and blunt. We just don't know. That's why I reached out to Rupal several times today to try to find out the exact question that was asked. So far, no response (if I hear, I'll update this post). In the meantime, no one kill anyone or threaten anyone or say anything insane. We're fully stocked with crazy this week already, thanks.