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

Interviews
by Rodrigo Perez
December 6, 2012 4:47 PM
17 Comments
  • |

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.

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.

You might also like:
Free Indie Movies and Documentaries    

17 Comments

  • jim calocci | December 8, 2012 5:39 PMReply

    thanks for the insight
    it was a kick to read
    I believe you've inspired many
    to enjoy story telling,indeed

  • Greg | December 8, 2012 2:06 PMReply

    Nice that he makes a point of praising David S. Goyer, too--always glad when directors appreciate their writing collaborators.

  • Aeon | December 7, 2012 4:00 PMReply

    Great interview. Hard to find good ones with Nolan. I think he's fantastic. Can't wait to see what he does next.

  • SFlare | December 7, 2012 3:45 AMReply

    @NINA Spielberg?...@CHRIS Sure, maybe reading movie blogs gives me a skewed picture. But i guess the blogosphere is a minority.

  • Nina | December 6, 2012 9:48 PMReply

    this is why i love Christopher Nolan he's a genius yes but he also a very humble human being unlike some hollywood assholes like bay, cameron, lucas or spielberg.

  • SFlare | December 6, 2012 8:05 PMReply

    I think he should take his time with his next project. He's become ubiquitous. It's fueled his unpopularity. Although these posts have been positive, surprisingly. Anyway, a break will do him a lot of good, and it's give people a chance to miss him again. Hopefully a project less geared to the type of audience that hates him.

  • Tom | December 7, 2012 1:06 PM

    Classic case of some greasy fingered Marvel nut who thinks his opinion is shared by the rest of the world.

  • Chris138 | December 6, 2012 8:49 PM

    Fueled his unpopularity? He seems plenty popular to me, unless you're someone like Rex Reed or David Denby who have some vendetta against him. Those who can't stand Nolan are a minority. A vocal minority, sure, but still a small portion of moviegoers.

  • DG | December 6, 2012 7:33 PMReply

    Great interview. Man I really hope he returns to Prestige type of territory for his next movie. I feel like he's probably fibbing a bit saying he doesn't know what his next project is but that's ok, after Rises I think it'd be really cool for him to film something more under the radar and just have it kind of appear, if such a thing were even possible...

  • 5678 | December 6, 2012 7:30 PMReply

    How does The Dark Knight not obey traditional screenwriting rules? It pretty much exactly does. Three distinct acts, clear climax and coda. I'm sure it hits the plot points on all the right pages, no less

  • Alan | December 8, 2012 3:57 AM

    Also, the character who undergoes the biggest arc - Harvey Dent - is a plot device.

  • Wash | December 7, 2012 8:03 AM

    The protagonist defeats the main antagonist, and then there's an additional 30 minutes of movie where the protagonist fights another antagonist, who was earlier a protagonist. After Luke got his hand cut off by Vader in Empire, we didn't then go off and watch him fight Han Solo for 20 minutes, did we?

  • Rohan | December 6, 2012 7:18 PMReply

    Good questions. I enjoyed reading this twice actually.

  • Danielf | December 6, 2012 5:46 PMReply

    Well done, Playlist. You can tell he enjoyed your thoughtful questions. The Dark Knight has risen, now let's see what Sir Nolan can come up with next. I can't wait.

  • ben | December 6, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    Good questions.

  • Joss | December 6, 2012 5:20 PMReply

    Great interview. I'll miss Nolan's Batman movies, but I'm excited to see what he moves on to next.

  • TheoC | December 6, 2012 5:06 PMReply

    This is great stuff, not just because it's the elusive Nolan. because you're asking the right stuff.

    Nice work.

Email Updates