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Feature
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...

WORDS VARIOUS
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ADAM McKAY
(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."
TIM BURTON
(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."
DAVID KOEPP
(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."

DREW GODDARD
(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."

WES ANDERSON
(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."
RUPERT WYATT
(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."
NEIL MARSHALL
(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!"

KEVIN FEIGE
(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."

PETER BERG
(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."
GARETH EDWARDS
(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."
ZACK SNYDER
(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

1 RE: stop bashing Burton
ahem indeed - that's a fair point - but I would argue that by the time Batman came around Superman IV had pretty much single-handedly destroyed the credibility of the comic-book movie. Supergirl didn't help much either. More

Posted by Dr Science on Monday July 23, 2012, 18:36

2 RE: stop bashing Burton
L: Dr Science The knee-jerk adoration for Nolan is way over the top - give Burton some respect FFS. if he hadn't made Batman the successful phenomenon that it was back in 1989, then it's unlikely that we'd have had the studios investing in comic-book movies at all. You can argue that the biggest variable in making superhero movies a viable proposition was the development of CGIurton's Batman was the first of its type to be deemed credible and to deliver box office success. /quote] A-hem. Richard Donner's n More

Posted by directorscut on Saturday July 21, 2012, 22:48

3 RE: stop bashing Burton
L: Dr Science The knee-jerk adoration for Nolan is way over the top - give Burton some respect FFS. if he hadn't made Batman the successful phenomenon that it was back in 1989, then it's unlikely that we'd have had the studios investing in comic-book movies at all. You can argue that the biggest variable in making superhero movies a viable proposition was the development of CGI, but Burton's Batman was the first of its type to be deemed credible and to deliver box office success. Yes he was a pioneer. Yes he took risks. Yes he took a lot of crap. And yes most of you people complaining about him failing to adore Nolan as much as you do, are probably too young to remember how fucking important that movie was. So get some context and some perspective and give the man some respect - he's earned the right to his opinion and if his opinion is bitter(sweet) then who are you to judge? ery well said my good man. More

Posted by AmityBodega1977 on Saturday July 21, 2012, 19:33

4 Iron Man...?
Really? Iron Man was exactly what I expected it to be. Good guy vs bad guy. Good guy wins. The Dark Knight was so much more than that. I mean let's be honest, if Marvel didn't have their big budgets, the movies would be aweful. Whereas if Nolan had a smaller budget with the Batman franchise, like he did with Memento, he still would've made something incredible. More

Posted by Lewisaunders on Thursday July 19, 2012, 13:40

5 Burtons ok but...
"stop bashing Burton" er it's not a case of adoring Nolan. The article has obviously asked for the thoughts of these guys on Nolan but all Burton does is talk about himself. I like Burton I really do but he does come across as an ass here. sorry Although I will agree that Burton took huge steps in bringing superheros' back onto the big screen ( they had been made before) but while I love a lot of Burtons work his Batman films are not even close to the quality of Nolans. Can I also point out that (IMO) there is a very real difference between dark and gothic, nearly all Burtons fims are gothic in nature but not necessarily dark. just my opinion. More

Posted by Mr.Beak on Thursday July 19, 2012, 11:39

6 stop bashing Burton
The knee-jerk adoration for Nolan is way over the top - give Burton some respect FFS. if he hadn't made Batman the successful phenomenon that it was back in 1989, then it's unlikely that we'd have had the studios investing in comic-book movies at all. You can argue that the biggest variable in making superhero movies a viable proposition was the development of CGI, but Burton's Batman was the first of its type to be deemed credible and to deliver box office success. Yes he was a pioneer. Yes he took risks. Yes he took a lot of crap. And yes most of you people complaining about him failing to adore Nolan as much as you do, are probably too young to remember how fucking important that movie was. So get some context and some perspective and give the man some respect - he's earned the right to his opinion and if his opinion is bitter(sweet) then who are you to judge? More

Posted by Dr Science on Wednesday July 18, 2012, 15:15

7 Dry your eyes Tim B
I used to be Burton fan - but these comments are just embarrassing! You think Nolan is "lucky" cause he get's to make darker Batman movies than you could at the time!? If you think that it's just the darkness of his trilogy that makes them as huge a success as they deservedly are, then your mind must be as hollow as your recent film. . Anyways, now's your chance - go ahead - try making a great, dark film for us - instead of dressing up Johnny in yet another slightly dark, slightly funny movie. More

Posted by tca on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:41

8 Gareth Edwards talking nonsense...
Gareth Edwards says: "I'm really pleased the movie was such a success because never again can a studio underestimate the audience." Y'know, unfortunately, I think the days of studios underestimating audiences are far from over... More

Posted by fiercehairdo on Tuesday July 17, 2012, 12:23

9
And it's Burton for douche of the day...jealous much? More

Posted by ronniem on Monday July 16, 2012, 10:45

10 Tim Burton - WTF??
Tim Burton's comments sum up what a douche he is! He hasn't made a relevant film in over a decade. More

Posted by knoxy04 on Sunday July 15, 2012, 21:07

11 RE:
L: Agent69 God. The movie was a mess, it's time we all admit that. e happen to agree with it. Which, personally, I don't. With bells on. More

Posted by Lazarus munkey on Saturday July 14, 2012, 23:49

12
God. The movie was a mess, it's time we all admit that. More

Posted by Agent69 on Saturday July 14, 2012, 13:24

13 Is it that great?
I may be on my own here, but I think Batman Begins is a much better film. I enjoyed the Dark Knight, but nowhere near as much as the first film. More

Posted by leonidasnz on Saturday July 14, 2012, 06:55

14 RE: RE:
Tim Burton. You wish. More

Posted by Lazarus munkey on Saturday July 14, 2012, 04:24

15
I love how Tim Burton starts talking about himself... More

Posted by Halle on Friday July 13, 2012, 17:36

16 Burton's Batman
I used to watch Batman Returns to death, the VHS was on it's last legs. It's a great movie but really the Nolan movies are far superior in terms of film making. Burton is talking only about style and not the substance which is why the Nolan movies are better. There isn't much going on under the Batman Returns cowl when you revisit it. But then, that's where Burton is at the moment, style over substance (and he's been there a long time I'm sorry to say) More

Posted by glloyd24 on Friday July 13, 2012, 15:30

17 Kevin Feige
"...because people don't always make the distinction between DC and Marvel." - could he be talking about Green Lantern? Or is he referring to Hulk, Electra, Daredevil, Blade Trinity, The Incredible Hulk or The Punisher? More

Posted by glloyd24 on Friday July 13, 2012, 15:26

18 Kevin Feige
"...because people don't always make the distinction between DC and Marvel." - could he be talking about Green Lantern? Or is he referring to Hulk, Electra, Daredevil, Blade Trinity, The Incredible Hulk or The Punisher? More

Posted by glloyd24 on Friday July 13, 2012, 15:19

19 Iron Man...?
Also, I think Kevin Feige's assertion that Iron Man made as bold a statement as the Dark Knight doesn't quite ring true. More

Posted by Warm_Ice on Friday July 13, 2012, 14:46

20
It's not hard to imagine Tim having an angry rant at Helena about TDK's success just before bed. Probably every night. More

Posted by Warm_Ice on Friday July 13, 2012, 14:23

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