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The Playlist Interview: Christopher Nolan Talks The Writing Process, Batman As A Sociopath & Finding His Darth Vader [Part 2]

Photo of Rodrigo Perez By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist December 6, 2012 at 4:47PM

Christopher Nolan is a hard man to track down, but after some patience and persistence, we were lucky enough to sit down with the (to name just a few) "Memento," "Prestige" and "Inception" director at length to discuss "The Dark Knight Rises," his debut feature film "Following" and much more about his lauded Batman trilogy. You can read all that right here in part one of our talk, and continue with us as we dug deeper with Nolan into the mythology of his Batman films and his process for putting the pieces of his entire series together, all of which we've presented in a part two below.
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Christopher Nolan, Dark Knight Rises
Did you guys want to explore the idea of Batman as a sociopath too?
Absolutely. I mean we talk about it in “Batman Begins,” but the story didn't demand it. I didn't want to do too much superficial philosophizing in terms of talking about, “Is he going too far? Is he not going too far?” When it made sense to discuss it, that idea, then by all means, we put it in there. Christian Bale felt when we came to “The Dark Knight” that it was important that we really showed that danger, and that became the interrogation scene.

"The Joker's more of a Hannibal Lecter. For 'The Dark Knight Rises' we wanted a very physical monster. We wanted more of a Darth Vader."
So it’s back to your point about patience with character building in franchises. Waiting for the right moment to explore the idea.
It is. It's all about patience because you can't force it. It was too early [in “Batman Begins”] to explore that side of Bruce. It was too early to build the whole thing up and then call it into question. We did it in a small way in “Batman Begins” with Alfred's response to the reckless car chase, which sets up the scene where he shames his father’s name by having to play the drunken playboy [ed. as a ruse to keep his guests from leaving the party to keep them from being hurt by Ra's al Ghul’s men]. But yes, it was about patience. It was about waiting until the time was right, and then really pushing that.

The Batman universe in the comics is vast. Did you ever consider using other members of the murderer’s row of villains he’s faced?
There was a lot to choose from when it came to “The Dark Knight Rises.” But we had certain pretty tight parameters we were looking for [the character to fulfill]. We knew we needed a very physical protagonist. We didn't want to do anything that echoed The Joker in any way. The Joker was very specifically this unique, anarchic force, who was not physical. You know, he's much more of the Hannibal Lecter end of things. We wanted a very physical monster. We wanted more of the Darth Vader, if you like, and that was very important in the story dynamics. We wanted Bruce to be facing a stronger presence, physically, which we hadn't done before. That felt like a necessary escalation and so the story behind it, which we were able to draw on, was quite epic. The really interesting thing about Bane is, he's massively strong but he's also extremely intelligent, and his past very much mirrors Bruce Wayne’s in interesting ways, from his training and with the League of Shadows background. Bane represents the the wrong path of Bruce Wayne almost back to “Batman Begins.” So Bane is the return of that danger. The wrong side for Bruce Wayne.

Do you want to keep exploring the blockbuster genre?
I'm open to a lot of different things. I don't have an exact idea of what I'm going to do next, which I am quite enjoying. I've been on a very relentless timeline for the last few years. I worked on this for the last 12 years, so I'm not in any rush. But there are a few [projects] I'm looking at. I like films of all scales and so I feel that in the future if I have the chance, I'll do a lot of different sizes of films.

Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight,
The films you did in between Batman films were a type of film noir -- anti-heroes, morally dubious protagonists and things end poorly for them.
I suppose. You know to me every film feels equally large. I see scale in storytelling and emotional terms, in budgetary terms I suppose I would say. So for me a story has to be massive in some way, even if it's two guys sitting around talking about something. It has to have an enormity to it that draws me to it. It takes a long time to make a film.

“Man of Steel” looks like it’s borne out of the realistic Nolan-verse.
Well somewhat, but I wouldn’t want people to think we're doing for Superman what we did for Batman. It's very much Zack’s film, and I think people are going to love what he's done. I think it's really remarkable to take on that character. Superman is a completely different character than Batman. So you can't in any way use the same template. But David Goyer had this, I thought, brilliant way to make Superman relatable and relevant for his audience. Zack has built on that and I think it's incredible what he's putting together. He's got a lot of finishing to do on that. Superman is the biggest comic book character of them all, and he needs the biggest possible movie version, which is what Zack's doing. It's really something.

“The Dark Knight Rises” and the entire Dark Knight trilogy is now out on Blu-Ray/DVD.

This article is related to: Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight Rises, David S. Goyer, Jonathan Nolan, Interviews, Interviews, Features


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