Christopher Nolan is set for the whole Batman thing to be over. But, it is with a heavy heart that he releases The Dark Knight Rises. The filmmaker is fundamentally changed by the experience that began with Batman Begins and now closes with him and Christian Bale and their final foray into the world of the Caped Crusader.
Nolan sat down to talk about his Dark Knight swan song and provided an insight into the franchise that nobody can capture as much as the man who is behind it. As so effectively shown in The Dark Knight Rises MTV Movie Awards footage, he revolutionized the superhero movie and proved that it can be Oscar worthy.
Movie Fanatic: Is there one element of the Batman story that you keep throughout?
Christopher Nolan: When you look back on the films, you can see the world we’re living in reflected, but we don’t want to be specific about it. We just come at the stories from the point of view of what concerns us. What gives us fear? What gives us hope? What would require a hero of Batman’s stature to rise up in our world?
Movie Fanatic: Can you talk a bit about how the two films have fed into the third?
Christopher Nolan: Our story picks up eight years later, when it seems that Batman and Commissioner Gordon have succeeded in that the Dark Knight is no longer needed in Gotham. In that regard, Bruce Wayne has won the battle, but he is traumatized by what happened and doesn’t know how to move on from being the figure of Batman. The Dark Knight Rises very much deals with the consequences of his and other characters’ actions in the previous films.
Movie Fanatic: After the huge success of the last film, what was the weight on your shoulders about even trying to write the next film?
Christopher Nolan: I think you have to forget that pressure and just get on and try to make the best film that you can. We felt a tremendous sense of responsibility to fulfill expectations based on the first two movies while giving the audience something they hadn’t seen before. It was a tricky balance. Myself, Jonathan Nolan (screenwriter) and David Goyer, our other writing partner, at the early stage, we felt a lot of pressure.
Movie Fanatic: How do we find Bruce Wayne as The Dark Knight Rises as he has won the war on crime in Gotham?
Christopher Nolan: We come back to find a man who is no longer on a mission, even though that had always been the goal. The reason I have always gravitated to the character of Batman is that, as often noted, he is a superhero with no superpowers, apart from his wealth. His extraordinary nature has always come down to his extreme motivation and sheer dedication, which makes him a very credible individual. It’s been very rewarding to watch Christian Bale chart the progression of his role through the three films.
Movie Fanatic: By introducing The Dark Knight Rises' Bane as the villain, you have physically at least, introduced someone who could effectively destroy Batman…
Christopher Nolan: In deciding on who the next villain would be, it was imperative that it was someone completely different from the Joker -- that he be a brute force. Bane is raw strength with a fanatical devotion to duty, and that combination makes him unstoppable. When you’re creating a monstrous presence like Bane in a movie, you could concentrate just on the physical or you could focus on the more psychological aspects. With Tom Hardy, I knew I would get the whole package.
Movie Fanatic: Where do you think that sentiment originated?
Christopher Nolan: There’s a very important scene between Michael Caine’s character, Alfred, and Christian’s character in Batman Begins. They’re on the plane and they talk about the symbolism of the bat. Alfred, as somebody who looks after him and cares for him, the only reason he goes along with it is that there’s a logic to it. The logic which we found as we worked on the character was it had to be about symbolism. That’s really always been at the heart of Bruce Wayne’s story.
Movie Fanatic: What do you think is at the heart of why your Batman trilogy has been so successful?
Christopher Nolan: Really, these films are about entertainment. They are about story and character. But what we do is we try and be very sincere in the things that frighten us or motivate us. We try to be very sincere about that, and I think resonances that people find or that happen to occur with what’s going on in the real world. To me, they come about really as a result of us just living in the same world that we all do and trying to construct scenarios that move us, or terrify us -- in the case of a villain like Bane and what he might do to the world.