Why Christopher Nolan Said Goodbye To Superhero Movies

Christopher Nolan on the set of Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan on the set of Dunkirk Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan is a filmmaker, in its purest definition. He has proven himself, innumerable times over his career, to have a firm grasp of the niceties of visual storytelling, whether they be in his own work or nestled beneath the iconic wieght of others. He never makes the same film twice, though his works are linked by hallmarks that have since become standards in the industry. For better or for worse, to most his name has become synonymous with the modern blockbuster, due in large part to his work on The Dark Knight trilogy.

Nolan’s elseworld interpretation of the comic book legend, particularly its middle chapter, informed the way movies of its type get made, even now, over a decade since its first installment hit cinemas. To varying degrees, each film in the series is well-regarded by critics, general movie goers and fans of the genre, but it seems now the 46-year-old auteur finds liberation in telling stories more grounded in reality.

Enter Dunkirk , a sweeping World War II epic that tells the tale of a last minute evacuation mission to save allied tropes besieged by German soldiers. It’s a story Nolan’s been wanting to tell for decades – a historical drama that sets the stage for the kind of large scale tension the veteran director thrives on. Nolan doesn’t seem to be soured on the superhero genre, but the decision to stay out of the directing chair in regards to comic book movies seems to be a distinctly personal one.

Christopher Nolan spoke to Yahoo while promoting the upcoming Dunkirk and had this to say:

“I mean I watch the films, I enjoy films very much as a moviegoer these days. I spent 10 years of my life dealing with one of the greatest characters in pop fiction. It was a great honor and privilege to work with that, but there’s a time to pass it on to new people.”

To me, this is comforting. I published concerns not too long ago about a world that sees our visionaries swallowed up by the superhero blockbuster vacuum. It’s an odd conundrum because the genre has been greatly benefited by the exclusion of bland yesmen-for-hire directors like Bryan Singer bastardizing the source material. I hope Nolan’s deliberate choice to exercise his unique expertise on a massive undertaking like Dark Knight (a trilogy that had a definitive beginning middle and end) then going on to overcome pressures from major studies to drudge up more franchise flicks, and instead opting to make films that are more personal becomes a precedent for other up and coming filmmakers.

Dunkirk hits theaters on July 20 and it looks to be Christopher Nolan’s most accomplished film thus far. The director seeks to continue to challenge himself as evident by his sit down with Stephen Whitty of ArtSyndicate,

“It’s interesting, as I finished the film ( Dunkirk ) and was showing it to the studio for the first time- which clarifies your mind remarkably, I realised my driving force wasn’t just to get away from artifice but the very types of artifice I myself had been using. To try and force myself into a new direction. “

Defying convention, one of the many qualities that distinguish Christopher Nolan as one of the visionaries of our era.

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