Christopher Nolan revolutionized the superhero genre with 2008’s The Dark Knight. Nolan’s expertise in genre filmmaking and his ability to construct elaborate set pieces made him a perfect fit for the Batman franchise. However, it almost never happened as Nolan originally did not plan to make The Dark Knight. In an excerpt with Slashfilm from his upcoming book, Christopher Nolan: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work, author Ian Nathan wrote about Nolan’s thought process after Batman Begins.
“For once, it was a trick he pulled on himself. The playing card that Gary Oldman’s stalwart police officer James Gordon reveals in a Ziploc at the end of Batman Begins – the Joker, naturally – was intended as a tingle of anticipation and possibility to send the audience home with, no more than that. Christopher Nolan had no intention of maintaining a franchise; he had done his superhero bit, bringing Batman back from his decline into camp, and wanted to be away to pursue more personal, original material. This was only a tease, or at best a departing offering to the studio – the enticing question of what a revamped (as far as fans were concerned, a Nolanized) Joker might resemble. ‘We wanted to suggest possibilities for how the story would continue,’ he claimed, ‘not because we were going to make a sequel.'”
One of the highlights of The Dark Knight is Heath Ledger’s iconic performance as The Joker. Ledger’s chilling interpretation of the agent of chaos became one of the defining performances of the 21st century. Ledger’s Joker was more scary than silly, which was a point of emphasis from Nolan and writer David S. Goyer.
“‘I liked the [Tim] Burton films, a lot,’ said Goyer, recalling that director’s fantasias Batman and Batman Returns, ‘but the one bone to pick with film, television, anything: I just never felt that the Joker was scary. Chris and I wanted the Joker to be scary.’ Not simply scary, but thematically diabolical. He wasn’t so much a character as a catalyst – a dark philosophy for a new kind of Batman movie. ‘The Joker is what I am afraid of more than anything,’ declared Nolan. ‘More than any of the villains, these days particularly, when you feel civilization is very thinly lined. I think the Joker represents the id in all of this.'”
Christopher Nolan: The Iconic Filmmaker and His Work drops on November 8.
Is The Dark Knight the greatest superhero film of all time? Leave your answer in the comments below!
Recommended Reading: Batman (2016-): The Rebirth Deluxe Edition – Book 6
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