Christopher Nolan is notoriously coy about his upcoming moves, but interest in said moves has reached a fever pitch as of late, once it was announced that the auteur director would not only return to follow up on mega-success The Dark Knight, but he would “godfather” the new Superman reboot (tentatively titled The Man of Steel) as well. Although Nolan still shies away from utter transparency, he spoke with LA Times, and shared more on what the future holds for Batman and Superman than I ever thought he would at this stage.
After the jump, look for quotes from the man of the hour on the genesis of his involvement in the Superman franchise, how the third film will likely be his last entry in the Batman franchise, and how Mr. Freeze will not make an appearance in the sequel.
The best news is that Nolan seems genuinely excited about the Dark Knight sequel. We all speculated that he would only return to the franchise if he found a story that piqued his interest enough. Still, it’s good to hear it so earnestly from the horse’s mouth:
“It’s very exciting, we have a fantastic story, and we feel we can do it right. We know the milieu, if you will, we know the genre and how to get it done right.”
But after Nolan completes his Batman trilogy, it sounds like he’s done with Gotham, which is probably for the best:
“Without getting into specifics, the key thing that makes the third film an great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story. And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story . . . I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters. My brother has come up with some pretty exciting stuff. Unlike the comics, these thing don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful. Viewing it as an ending, that sets you very much on the right track about the appropriate conclusion and the essence of what tale we’re telling. And it hearkens back to that priority of trying to find the reality in these fantastic stories. That’s what we do.”
I can’t say I’m too disappointed in this news. It sounds great in theory to have Nolan telling the tale of Bruce Wayne in perpetuity, but in reality a saga with a beginning, middle, and end is the way to go. Batman Begins is a great origin story, and The Dark Knight casts Batman’s world into chaos, presumably to set up the redemptive arc of the third film. I hope that this approach lends the story and its director a sense of purpose that will really wow us whenever it makes its way to theaters.
Speaking of which, that still may be a couple years away. Nolan has yet to officially confirm that he will direct the Batman sequel, though the article treats it as a foregone conclusion. Speaking to the development process, Nolan reported,
“My brother, [Jonah Nolan], is writing a script for me and we’ll wait to see how it turns out…he’s struggling to put it together into the epic story that you want it to be.”
These things take time, of course. Nolan was unwilling to reveal which villain–or more likely, villains–would challenge the caped crusader in the next film, though he did definitively eliminate one name from contention:
“It won’t be Mr. Freeze.”
Mr. Freeze is one of my favorite Batman villains, if only for his portrayal in the nineties cartoon. However, I understand the trouble of fitting Freeze into Nolan’s depiction of Gotham, and relent that there are probably much better choices. I trust the man to select the right villain to parallel the themes of Bruce Wayne’s redemption, even if he misses out on all sorts of ice-related puns in the process.
The genesis of Nolan’s involvement in the Superman reboot is relayed here, and it is rather interesting. Apparently, Nolan and screenwriter David Goyer had hit a roadblock in developing the Batman story. To take their minds off things, Goyer fantasized about how Nolan would take on the iconic story of Clark Kent. Nolan recalled,
“He basically told me, ‘I have this thought about how you would approach Superman.’ I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting. I wanted to get Emma and I involved in shepherding the project right away and getting it to the studio and getting it going in an exciting way.”
Again, it’s great to hear Nolan excited about a project. It’s possible that Superman has been in the back of his mind for awhile, as the original Richard Donner Superman informed his own casting of Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, and Tom Wilkinson in smaller supporting roles.
“I went to the studio with the analogy of ‘I want to cast the way they did in 1978 with Superman‘ where they had Brando and Glenn Ford and Ned Beatty and all these fantastic actors in even small parts, which was an exotic idea for a superhero movie at the time. It really paid off, too. As a kid watching Superman it seemed enormous and I realized later by looking at it that a lot of that was actually the casting, just having these incredibly talented people and these characterizations. And Marlon Brando is the first guy up playing Superman’s dad. It’s incredible.”
Not that Nolan will stay as true to Donner’s version as Bryan Singer insisted upon in Superman Returns. This Metropolis will be decidedly Nolanized:
“A lot of people have approached Superman in a lot of different ways. I only know the way that has worked for us that’s what I know how to do.”
And really, when you hire Christopher Nolan, that’s exactly what you want: the Nolan stamp of originality. Hiring Nolan for two of cinema’s biggest superhero franchises speaks volumes to the objectives of Warner Bros. It’s hard not to get really excited for these films, neither of which is likely to appear before 2012 or so. To tide us over until then, we have Inception, whose July release date can’t arrive fast enough.