Before Iron Man kickstarted a decade-spanning-and-counting cinematic universe of Marvel superhero movies, there was Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. It started with the aptly titled Batman Begins, released way back in 2005. Now, as reported by Indie Wire (opens in new tab), Nolan has shared that he’s glad to have made the films early enough that there were less commercial pressures and more chances for creative freedom.
“It was the right moment in time for the telling of the story I wanted to do,” the director reflected in a virtual discussion promoting Tom Shore's book The Nolan Variations. “The origin story for Batman had never been addressed in film or fully in the comics. There wasn’t a particular or exact thing we had to follow. There was a gap in movie history. Superman had a very definitive telling with Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner. The version of that with Batman had never been told. We were looking at this telling of an extraordinary figure in an ordinary world.”
Nolan also talked about how this, and the lack of an already defined comic book genre, allowed for “creative freedom” and the opportunity to “show the studio this is what it can be.”
Of course, the Dark Knight trilogy was preceded by Leslie H. Martinson, Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s respective takes on the caped crusader, though none of those films delved into the vigilante's first year as a crime fighter in the way Batman Begins did.
Nolan further explained that “the other advantage we had was back then you could take more time between sequels.” He added: “When we did Batman Begins, we didn’t know we’d do one and it took three years to do it and then four years before the next one. We had the luxury of time. It didn’t feel like a machine, an engine of commerce for the studio. As the genre becomes so successful, those pressures become greater and greater. It was the right time.”
Things definitely worked out well for Nolan, considering the Dark Knight trilogy is now viewed as the benchmark for comic book adaptations – and Heath Ledger’s take on the Joker in The Dark Knight has become so iconic any new version of the character stands largely in his shadow.
Until we see a Nolan movie back on the big screen again, check out our list of Christopher Nolan movies ranked, and find out everything we know so far about the Dark Knight's next solo outing in The Batman.