Christopher Nolan is currently one of Hollywood’s premiere directors. His cinematic visual style; his in-depth character development; and his vividly detailed passion for storytelling have easily proven him as a master of his craft. To date, he has yet to make a bad film – although the ending of Interstellar was a little far-fetched.
It wasn’t until Nolan embarked into the world of comic books that he really became a household name. He took on one of the most iconic characters in comic book history, and bravely re-imagined him in a modern society. While the tone of Batman comics is naturally darker than most other superhero tales, Nolan’s vision encapsulated the true and natural grit of a crime saga.
The Dark Knight Trilogy avoided the overly flamboyant and colorful nature depicted in comic books, and it avoided the overuse of computer graphics to bring to life and define its characters and story. Rather than lifting the source material directly from its paneled pages, and accepting that these heroes and villains were “exposed” to some unique element that gave them their “powers”, enhanced their abilities, or contrived their motives – Nolan made you believe that his world existed in yours.
I grew up like any other boy, with my finger firmly pressed on the pulse of pop culture. Superheroes were just as big when I was growing up, and while I preferred movies over comic books, I was fully aware of its universe. While I loved heroes and villains as much as the next kid, I found the writing in comics to be elementary. I couldn’t appreciate the stories to their fullest extent, and felt as if the writing was “dumbed down” to fit in the bubbles. For the most part, I still feel that way today. I want my comics to talk to me the way people talk – and when I was asked to write an issue of New York vs. the World for Unstoppable Comics, I wrote it as screenplay.
Naturally, the feedback I got was: “It’s too wordy…I can’t fit all that dialogue in the bubble”. My response was, “Then make the f***in’ bubble bigger”!
I can’t (and REFUSE) to write: “You are my enemy, and I must defeat you. UGGGHH…ARRRRR…BLAM… POW”. And for that reason, so many comic book movie adaptations failed prior to resurgence of Marvel Studios. Rather than make the real life version of the comic, they tried to put the comic directly on the screen – and there is nothing worse than confusing a superhero for a f***ing clown.
Tim Burton made a valiant effort with his first Batman movie in 1989, and it worked because it was designed to feel like a Tim Burton film, along the likes of Edward Scissorhands and Beetlejuice. It wasn’t until Bryan Singer made the first X-Men movie in 2000 that we saw the real potential of what a “grown up” comic book movie could be. Sixteen years later, Marvel Studios is kicking ass and taking names with their comic canon- although, even the mighty can fall from time to time with a case of the drizzling s***s (Age of Ultron, anyone?).
Sure, Marvel is full of spectacle and magic, and sometimes aggressively f***s your eye sockets with its huge CGI penis – but overall, they’ve done a great job introducing characters and building story arcs with pure cinematic substance that connects with all ages. Unfortunately, the DC Expanded Universe is having trouble cooking with the same recipe – as both Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad have critically s*** all over the bed.
My personal opinion differs from the critics, and this is how we circle back into Christopher Nolan’s neighborhood. I absolutely love Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and hold them as the benchmark to what a comic book movie should be. Of course, comic book enthusiast and purists will tend to disagree. While Nolan’s Dark Knight films are endeared by the world, they are technically considered that rare treasure the holds a place of their own – apart from the rest of the other comic book movies.
So, when Zack Snyder took the reins of DC’s universe to counter Marvel’s efforts , and adapt the Justice League to the big screen, he incorporated a blend of what currently works for Marvel and what has already proven successful in the past for DC via Nolan. He took the magical source material, an ensemble cast of superheroes, and bottle of CGI Viagra and mixed that s*** up with the dark tone and realistic characters seen in Nolan’s films. The result…well, some may see it as the equivalent of what you get when redneck cousins f*** – something deformed that you don’t know what to do with.
Again, I disagree. I see the artistic passion in making these heroes more “human”, and making them reflect the world we live in today. We see real life scenarios, crisis and triumph that we can relate to. Most of all, I absolutely love Snyder’s Terrence Malick-esque artistic visual approach, where he beautifully frames his scenes to tell a story without needing to utter a word. THAT is filmmaking!
Clearly, comic book people wouldn’t give a cup of warm piss for artistic cinema, which boggles my mind because isn’t that was comics are…art?
What do I want out of my comic movies? I want what Nolan gave me! I want to feel the raw emotion; I want the darker tone; I want to live in doubt and fear, unsure if there is a hero to save the day; I want my villains to be menacing, and have more to their agenda than taking over or destroying the world; I want to know that their pain comes from the true horrors of this world, I want them to hold the nature of our society responsible for their anguish and grief; I want to know that they ARE human too, but this unbalanced world pushed them of insanity;….I want my comic books to look like the 11:00 news, because when I turn on the TV or look out of my window, I’m more terrified about the world I live in rather than the one a writer imagines.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved Captain America: Civil War. I love to suspend my disbelief and be taken for a fantasy ride while chowing down on buttered popcorn and cheesy nachos – but after experiencing Christopher Nolan’s films, how could I …and why would I want to, ever go back to fantasyland? Maybe Nolan’s films are mentally haunting and mirror images of things I’ve seen or experienced. Maybe I see my world in his, and maybe I’m hoping for a hero to us from the horrors of this world. War; terrorism; financial hardships, rape, kidnapping, murder…OUR world needs a hero, and I’ll bet BOTH my balls that The Avengers aren’t coming anytime soon to save the day.
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