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Christopher Nolan Says 'The Dark Knight Rises' Is "The End Of The Batman Story" He Wanted To Tell

by Kevin Jagernauth
November 28, 2012 5:52 PM
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Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight Rises

Yes, it's pretty much old news considering this is what director Christopher Nolan has been saying about "The Dark Knight Rises" since day one. But, considering the recent rumors about Joseph Gordon-Levitt (which have been denied by his reps) playing Batman in "Justice League," it's worth reminding folks how Nolan views the final entry in his trilogy as well as the possibilities of continuing the story.

The director recently sat down for a lengthy chat with Scount Foundas of Film Comment and, when asked about revisiting Gotham and the possibility of a door being left open at the end of the film, Nolan makes it clear that while the theme of the movie is about an enduring myth and legend, when it comes to the story, it's all wrapped up. "For me, 'The Dark Knight Rises' is specifically and definitely the end of the Batman story as I wanted to tell it, and the open-ended nature of the film is simply a very important thematic idea that we wanted to get into the movie, which is that Batman is a symbol. He can be anybody, and that was very important to us," he explained.

"Not every Batman fan will necessarily agree with that interpretation of the philosophy of the character, but for me it all comes back to the scene between Bruce Wayne and Alfred in the private jet in 'Batman Begins,' where the only way that I could find to make a credible characterization of a guy transforming himself into Batman is if it was as a necessary symbol, and he saw himself as a catalyst for change and therefore it was a temporary process, maybe a five-year plan that would be enforced for symbolically encouraging the good of Gotham to take back their city," he continued to explain. "To me, for that mission to succeed, it has to end, so this is the ending for me, and as I say, the open-ended elements are all to do with the thematic idea that Batman was not important as a man, he’s more than that. He’s a symbol, and the symbol lives on."

Again, it's nothing particularly revelatory, but it does indicate that Nolan deems the book closed on his trilogy. And it underscores why taking a character from that world and placing him in another franchise would be a bit of disservice to what he has created. But let us know your thoughts below -- can the series and characters live on without Nolan or is a fresh reboot what's needed? 

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  • David | November 29, 2012 4:12 AMReply

    I'll be honest after seeing the movie I was a bit disappointed. It seems like he may have closed up the trilogy as he says, in terms of how Batman "endures" and becomes a symbol of the people and can pass the torch new hand, however he did leave the story open.

    What I think he has done is left it open for Bruce Wayne to come back as Batman. He names Blake at the end of the movie as "Robin" and sends him to the "Bat Cave". Fox knows he's not dead and will continue to make gadgets and make sure he gets his company and money back, Alfred knows he's not dead and will help resurrect him from the dead, and it seems like Commissioner Gordon has fixed the Bat signal in the same anticipation. Bringing him back isn't hard either they've done it before, and can do it again. They can make it look like because he was broke and he decided to leave, was presumed dead because they thought he was killed along with all that happened with Bane in Gotham and wasn't found and was presumed dead along with many others, this will help him get Wayne Enterprises back. Don't forget Scarecrow wasn't dealt with, Harley Quinn never enters, and the Joker wasn't seen in this movie and dealt with. Plus, Catwomen is with him, but was never officially announced as such and whole lot more could be added to the story with her.

    I just hope they decide to make a 4th entry or standalone that adds more to they way we love to see Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) as Batman and see some Arkham Asylum next time.

  • Alan | November 30, 2012 7:12 PM

    No, you're just writing things you want to happen. He makes it very clear: Gotham is a graveyard for Bruce, and the only way that he can live is by finding another life.

  • Joe | November 28, 2012 9:50 PMReply

    Again I don't fully buy the entire Rise storyline being Nolan's original trilogy plan. Not sure where I read it but I do remember an interview where Nolan had intended for Knight's murky open ended storyline to be the catalyst to the then possible third entry. But he stated that given Ledgers death they were left at a loss as to how the story could be wrapped due to not wanting another actor play the Joker role. The final film is hard to digest simply due to Nolan being uniterested in a lack luster story he just becomes overly cocky and just slapping empty jingoistic images on the screen along with oddly paced edits, and nonsensical story sequences; its basic psuedo intellectual porn. I'd take old fashioned Hollywood style Burton Batman anytime over this overhyped substitute.

  • SFlare | November 28, 2012 9:46 PMReply

    He's made a wonderful trio of Batman films. It would be a strange decision by Warner to try to shoehorn a character invented by Nolan for specific thematic purposes into the Justice League as a ham-fisted way of trying to capitalise on the Avengers model.

  • Ben | November 28, 2012 9:16 PMReply

    The 1989-1997 Anthology was good, but rushed into.
    The 2005-2012 Trilogy was excellent, It was "Tougher" and it was a short hand full.

    I would like a reboot in the future, and I want along fans and critics to love. To turn it into a "New 52/Arkham games Style". For once I would love to see:-

    Red Robin


    Mad Hatter
    Harley Quinn
    Red Hood
    Killer Croc

    In a gothic dark toned and with psychotic behaviour.

  • Nina | November 28, 2012 8:05 PMReply

    all i want to say is Thank You Christopher Nolan and all the cast and crew for making one of the greatest trilogy of all time!

  • Are777 | November 28, 2012 7:49 PMReply

    There is no doubt that Chris Nolan has made superhero cinematic history with his Dark Knight trilogy. For some, its a matter of debate about whether he has made the definitive Batman films. Personally, I believe he has done just that, and, no matter how one wishes to interpret Nolan's finish in Rises, I believe it is safe to say that Nolan's Batman is retired. To take a character from this universe and attempt to juxtapose it into a shared universe, as mentioned below, would not only be a mistake, it would potentially ruin everything that made Chris's Batman trilogy so great in the first place. Nolan introduced a visionary series of Batman films that the viewer could absolutely believe to be real. The idea that something that sounds so absurd, a man dressing as a bat and pummeling criminals with his bare hands worked - and man did it ever do more than work. It revolutionized the way an audience sees a superhero. Therefore, with all of Nolan's gritty realism, to take from that a character firmly rooted in that world, and place him in a shared DC Universe would be out of place. The symbol lives on, yes, The Batman can be anybody brave enough to stand against injustice. John Robin Blake is not that man though, and nor should Warner and DC carry that character over. I say leave Nolan's Batman trilogy alone, just as we left the Wachowskie brothers Matrix trilogy alone.

  • Coop | November 28, 2012 6:55 PMReply

    Nolan doesn't own Batman, WB/DC does. If WB wants to make Nolan-esque Batman sequels or JLA movies and offers same roles to the actors from Nolan Batman movies, it's up to the actors accept the offers or not. When I first encountered HitFix's scoop, I immediately thought that JGL was campaigning for the role. Of course his rep has to deny that whatever the reality is.

  • Alan | November 29, 2012 10:08 PM

    Actually I thought it was the other way around: WB don't know what the hell they want to do with Justice League, and throw some rumours to McWeeney to see if the audience wants to see more of John Blake or whether they should recast Bruce Wayne for another set of films.

  • Rob | November 28, 2012 6:23 PMReply

    Anyone who wants Nolan's take on Batman to continue needs to read this interview. The story is said and done. His take is hermetically sealed off from other superheroes. As soon as you add aliens and powers, you make the conflicts in this trilogy absurd. Let this be the end, the only thing one does in connecting it to other superheroes is soil its good name.

  • Daniel | November 28, 2012 8:42 PM

    Let's talk about the harsh realities of the studio world. Right now Warner Bros. is fucked - their big tentpole franchises (Batman, Harry Potter) are done, their last attempt at starting a franchise (Green Lantern) failed, and they got their asses handed to them by Marvel, who managed to make the third-highest-grossing film of all time out of a team up of their B-list superheroes, while Warner's/DC has all their A-listers on the shelf. Is Man of Steel going to be a failure or a success? Who the fuck knows? But until it comes out, the execs over there are probably shitting bricks being like: WE NEED SOMETHING THAT WORKS AND WE NEED IT NOW OR WE WILL ALL GET FIRED. And what do they know works? ANYTHING RELATED TO NOLAN'S BATMAN. In other words: they don't care about maintaining the integrity of the trilogy. They will want a Nolan-ish Batman, and you can bet that if JGL wants the part they will hand it to him; the only reason they wouldn't would be if Bale agreed to come back for a giant truckload of money.

  • Christian | November 28, 2012 6:11 PMReply

    Nolan is totally on the mark. Completely agreed with him and he has elevated the end of Batman to an everlasting symbol of justice instead of just another "The Adventures of Batsy will continue..." (cough...Marvel...cough). Great job, Chris!

  • hank | November 28, 2012 6:02 PMReply

    no shit?

  • KT | November 28, 2012 6:01 PMReply

    This makes sense.

    I view Nolan's Batman trilogy as a graphic novel, if you will, that tells its own separate, self-contained story. That's why Bale's Batman or Gordon-Leavitt's Robin/Nightwing wouldn't work in the same world as the 'Man of Steel'.

    From an inception stand-point (no pun intended), the (re)introduction of (a young) Superman is the best way for DC/WB to get the ball rolling with a clean slate for their superhero properties. With all of their heroes under one house if they do it correctly and they could make a killing...

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