Christopher Nolan Talks the Future of Superheroes on Film

By November 1, 2014
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Director Christopher Nolan has a new movie coming out very soon in the form of Interstellar, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain. It’s likely one of the most anticipated movies of the year, since the director has established himself as a bonafide 21st century auteur. Of course, much of his reputation has arisen from his work between 2005-2012 in revitalizing Batman on film, telling the story of the Dark Knight from beginning to end. Many fans and observers also credit him with a fundamental refreshment of the entire superhero genre, in addition to popularizing the notion of the reboot while also embracing technologies that accentuate the film watching experience.

As you might imagine, Nolan is a very intelligent guy, and likely has more than a few thoughts swirling in his head in regards to the current superhero film craze, its longevity, and whether or not its something he would ever be willing to return to. Thankfully, someone recently asked him about all of this.

In an interview with Time Out Chicago, Nolan was asked about his feelings surrounding the major announcements from both Marvel Studios and Warner Bros., and since he obviously has a greater tie to the DC side of things, he was pretty open with his feelings about Warner Bros. production of superhero films, and what it could mean for the genre as a whole going forward. He said,

Yeah, I love working in that field and hopefully I’ve added something to it. I know to some extent we encouraged more of it. You don’t want Hollywood to hit saturation point with those things. But then Zack Snyder is now doing his part by bringing Batman and Superman into one film [for 2016’s Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice], so that limits the number!

But yes, DC Comics have just announced an enormous number of movies. Well, you know, as long as that’s the ride people want, the studios will continue to offer it. I don’t see it as a limited genre. If I did, I never would have worked for almost ten years in that genre. I think like any genre, like the Western, it has limitless opportunities. It’s just about the audience’s appetite. What’s very important is that the studios be open to making other sorts of films at the same time.

Nolan was also asked if he feels he helped to raise the bar for what audiences consider a good comic book movie.

I would love to think so. It’s not really for me to say, but it was the ambition for the films, definitely. When you work in any genre, you’re looking to transcend it. You don’t make a genre film wanting to make a re-tread or parody or satire. You’re working in a particular constraint but you’re looking to force that box to be a little wider.

Nolan was also asked about whether or not he sees himself returning to comic book cinema, and gave an open-ended answer while also sounding somewhat definitively skeptical.

I think I had a great experience with the superhero genre and got to explore a lot of things, but it was a good decade of my life and I find it hard to imagine returning to it. But never say never.

Interstellar opens in theaters on November 5th in 70mm theaters, and November 7th for everywhere else. We’ll just have to see what the future holds for the director once his latest film is out for the world to see.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.