Wow. It looks like getting Nolan to sign on for Batman 3 wasn’t the hard part. It was getting him to sign on to be the brains behind the new Superman reboot. Yes, there’s a new Superman reboot coming. Guess DC is finally doing something with the Man of Steel. Looks like it’s no longer just fanboy hopes riding on Christopher Nolan – it’s the future of DC comics on film.
Okay, that may be an exaggeration. The concept art for Martin Campell’s upcoming Green Lantern shows a lot of promise. Maybe there will be Flash and Wonder Woman films announced soon under separate direction. On the other hand, the future of two of the most iconic characters of the twentieth centuries are under the helm of the same man. That’s a lot of pressure riding on Nolan. A lot of pressure.
Not that I doubt him. He is one of the best new directors to emerge in the past ten years. He has perhaps the most consistent filmography I can remember for a major director. There is not a misstep to his name. If anyone can do this, it’s Christopher Nolan.
In fairness, he won’t be directing the Superman reboot, simply mentoring those who are making it. Beyond that, to quote industry insiders, nobody knows nothing:
We know what we don’t want to do. But we don’t know what we want to do. We learned a lot from the last movie, and we want to get it right this time.
Brimming with confidence, eh?
It’s a bit ridiculous that DC haven’t been able to make a successful Superman movie while their direct competitors have been producing schlock for C-listers like The Punisher and Ghost Rider on a regular basis. Superman – with it’s bright and cheery aesthetic – may seem a little outside the noir scene that Nolan traditionally occupies, but I trust him with that. Just as The Prestige was really pulpy science fiction wrapped in mystery, I think he can pull it off. I am glad he isn’t directing though, to be honest. Batman’s pulp sensibilities suit him down to the ground – I’d be less sure about those sensibilities lining up with th big blue boyscout.
I’m more than a bit surprised that Warner Brothers convinced him to sign on. From his interviews, Nolan never really seemed too interested in the wider DC universe, or at least Batman’s place in it:
I don’t think our Batman, our Gotham, lends itself to that kind of cross-fertilization. It goes back to one of the first things we wrangled with when we first started putting the story together: Is this a world in which comic books already exist? Is this a world in which superheroes already exist? If you think of Batman Begins and you think of the philosophy of this character trying to reinvent himself as a symbol, we took the position — we didn’t address it directly in the film, but we did take the position philosophically — that superheroes simply don’t exist. If they did, if Bruce knew of Superman or even of comic books, then that’s a completely different decision that he’s making when he puts on a costume in an attempt to become a symbol. It’s a paradox and a conundrum, but what we did is go back to the very original concept and idea of the character. In his first appearances, he invents himself as a totally original creation.
While on the one hand it’s cool that Nolan, his brother and David Goyer thought about such an issue, it really suggests that their primary focus isn’t the DC universe, it’s on Batman himself. On the other hand, Nolan has stated repeatedly that his favourite superhero movie is Richard Donner’s Superman. The man has great taste. And, being honest, I think that Nolan can sidestep the fannish devotion for Donner’s work that bogged down Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. The sources on this rumour seem to suggest that star Brandon Routh and director Singer haven’t been entirely ruled out, but I can imagine Nolan wanting to put a team together to start with a blank slate, like he did on Batman.
As for what that blank slate will be, nobody knows. I think we can nip the ‘man of darkened steel’ rumours in the bud. Nolan is a smart enough filmmaker to know that grim and gritty won’t work on the big blue boy scout. And Warner Brothers should have learned from the last film that a whining, introspective Superman doesn’t work either. Beyond that, we don’t know. I’d like to see something other than Lex Luthor as a bad guy. Supes doesn’t exactly have the most distinguished selection of foes in the known universe, but there’s enough variety there to make it work.
I’m still more than a little bit excited about this. Not only is it confirmation that we will get a Nolan-helmed Batman 3, but it’s a lso a sign that Warner Brothers are taking the DC comics properties relatively seriously and might actually attempt to make a Superman movie before they lose the rights after that legal case last year.
We’re still not entirely sure what Nolan’s involvement will be. He’s a busy man, and he consistently puts out quality films. Throughout the period of time since the release of The Dark Knight, his main demand has been consistently rumoured as freedom – freedom in what he does with Batman and freedom to work on his own projects as well. As such, I don’t think he’ll be giving years of his life to this, he’ll likely mainly supervising the selection of candidates and discussing vision and method and script with them. That’s still a huge commitment to make, and it’s nice to have such a talented filmmaker involved.