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The Dark Knight Effect
How Hollywood fell for - and learned from - the greatest superhero sequel ever made

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It wasn’t just the general public who were blown away by Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films. Hollywood’s finest also felt the effects of the series, and in some cases it changed their approach to making movies or encouraged them to try new things. To find out exactly what those ripple effects were, Empire spoke to some of the biggest blockbuster filmmakers around to see how The Dark Knight struck them...

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(Director, Anchorman)

Adam McKay"The Dark Knight is the best superhero movie ever made. I've seen others that try to get all real, and they strip away the fun and the mythology. And then I've seen movies that go too far towards the cartoon aspect. But Nolan, with mathematical precision, blended the two. The way he shoots is such a throwback, and yet so modern. He's using old-fashioned techniques with modern ideas. Amazing."
(Director, Batman, Batman Returns)

Tim Burton"I like Chris Nolan's Batman movies. It kind of makes me laugh because I got so much shit for being too dark and now, with him, it's like, 'Lucky you.' But that's the way it should be. I wish I hadn't had to go through quite so much torture. They weren't used to that mood then. Comic books were supposed to be light. I did what I wanted to do and it seemed different at the time. And what we did has become normal."
(Writer, Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man; Director, Stir Of Echoes)

David Koepp"To me, what was most fascinating is I have two teenage boys and watching the reverence with which they saw it, again and again and again. It really is like their generation's Godfather. It is absolutely a seminal film for teenage boys of that and this era. If I told you I knew why, I'd be lying. It's lightning in a bottle, and you can never explain it. Great script, top-level performances... It just completely connected to something."

(Director, The Cabin In The Woods)

Drew Goddard"The greatest villain of all time is The Joker — he always has been and I don't know anyone who's not going to have Heath Ledger's performance burnt into their brains for the rest of their lives. And the thing about Chris that I admire so much is that he's not afraid to talk up to the audience, rather than down to the audience. He makes a gorgeous film; he makes an elegant and intelligent film, and that's the sort of thing that they didn't used to do with the superhero genre."

(Director, Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom)

Wes Anderson"I enjoy Chris Nolan's work in general, but I watched the Blu-Ray and it has a thing where you can go to any scene in the movie and go to the making of that. There's nothing that has ever made me feel less like a professional than watching Chris Nolan's group at work. The remote-control miniature cars. Just every technique. The rehearsal of flipping the semi-trailer end over end in the middle of the desert before they blow it up in Chicago... There's one scene where a guy jumps off the top of a skyscraper — they rehearse the jump but for the actual thing they did it CG. 'But for the rehearsal you did jump off the building?' 'We have it as a reference.' Wow. Chris Nolan is quite great. My favourite is Memento, but I'd like to learn how to do these things."
(Director, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes)

Rupert Wyatt"I think audiences, especially at that particular moment in time, were facing a certain reality check. Foreign wars, a crumbling economy — and the actor who played the villain met a really premature, tragic death before the movie came out. All of those things combined to make a very zeitgeist film. I referenced it all the time during the making of Apes, in terms of my hopes for people understanding the idea was to make a film that really dealt with our world. Warner Bros. has done a huge amount, especially with that particular film and Christopher Nolan, to make other film studios give other filmmakers an opportunity to tell really intelligent, well thought-out character dramas on that kind of scale."
(Director, The Descent, Centurion)

Neil Marshall"When I first saw it, to be honest, I couldn't account for its huge success. My first impression was that it was long-winded and way too serious for its own good. I've since watched it quite a few times on Blu-ray and I've really come to appreciate both its cinematic craft and its intelligence — it's certainly not frivolous. I think that's what ultimately gives it such lasting appeal. Sure, it's really just about a guy who dresses up as a bat, but it's such a smart, beautifully made movie about a guy who dresses up as a bat! It definitely raised the bar for modern blockbusters. Maybe too high, since so few have ever come close!"

(President Of Production, Marvel Studios)

Kevin Feige"The success and quality of The Dark Knight was just as important for Marvel as it was for all the people involved in that movie. I look back at the summer of 2008 as a two-hander between Iron Man and The Dark Knight, and I think they both really announced, 'Okay, this is not a fad, this genre is here to stay.' After The Dark Knight, we didn't fall into a trap of saying, 'Woah, audiences like dark and gritty! Make Thor dark and gritty, make Captain America dark and gritty!' (Laughs) But I think it showed how diverse these movies can be. I root for every single one of the comic-book movies that aren't ours. I hope every one is great and when they're not, it's disappointing, because people don't always make the distinction between DC and Marvel."

(Director, Hancock, Battleship)

Peter Berg"Christopher Nolan has a very special skillset. He's just got an eye and a unique tone — I mean, he had it starting with Memento and he hasn't really let up. He's a real talent and I think you've gotta look to his creative vision for the success of The Dark Knight. What he did with Heath Ledger just from a make-up and wardrobe standpoint was mesmerising. Christopher Nolan has demonstrated a clarity and a vision that no-one else has with that particular property."
(Director, Monsters)

Gareth Edwards"When I've watched The Dark Knight more analytically, as a filmmaker, I've noticed things that go against the way we're supposed to do them. Like there's music throughout that movie, yet they pull it right out during the really intense chase scenes and it has a strange effect of making those moments really grounded and believable and more exciting. It's stuff like that that really sets it apart from other blockbusters. And I'm really pleased the movie was such a success because never again can a studio underestimate the audience."
(Director, Watchmen, Man Of Steel)

Zack Snyder"What Chris did with that movie was he made our mythology mean something to us. Batman is no longer a man in a suit. He's us. But it's not a repeatable thing, as far as tone and mood go. The Dark Knight Rises can be that again, but other superhero movies can't because they don't have the balls. That tone is transcendent. That's a movie anyone can see and say, 'I understand that mythology instantly.'"

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Your Comments

21 The Bitter Burton
I completely agree - all the other filmmakers talk about Nolan's and TDK's achievements but Burton just talks about himself! I actually loved his Batman films, but when was the last time he made a decent movie? If theres one criticism I will level at Nolans Batman films is that maybe they're grounded a bit too much in reality - at the end of the day it is a man dressed up like a rubber bat. I really liked Burton's injection of fantasy into his films - particularly Batman Returns, which remains my favourite Batman Film, although maybe not for much longer.... My favourite Batman Movies: 1. Batman Returns 2. The Dark Knight 3. Batman Begins 4. Batman The Dark Knight Rises may top the list going by everything ive seena nd hard so far, bring July 20th! :-D I refuse to acknowledge Schumachers abominations. More

Posted by Spacecowboy on Friday July 13, 2012, 11:08

22 The bitter Tim Burton
Great feature, interesting to hear that Man of Steel won't likely be going entirely down that dark and gritty path based on his words. Tim Burton, however, really comes across as rather bitter, though. He seems to make it all about himself, rather than Nolan: "I got so much shit for being too dark". I'm a big fan of his, but he hasn't made anything of great quality in a while now, seems a little strange to hear he might be bitter. "I wish I hadn't had to go through quite so much torture". He hardly talks about Nolan's film at all, just brings it back to himself. Maybe it's just me... More

Posted by stevec32 on Friday July 13, 2012, 10:45

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