As the climactic chapter of Christopher Nolan's Bat-trilogy approaches, a handful of Hollywood's most accomplished genre filmmakers look back at The Dark Knight and how it signaled a tectonic shift in how superhero movies could be made ... and received.
Empire magazine reached to some of the geekerati for their opinions on what makes The Dark Knight such a terrific, such an important movie. Here's what a handful of them had to say.
Tim Burton, director, Batman and Batman Returns:
"I like Chris Nolan's Batman movies. It kind of makes me laugh because I got so much sh-t 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 he did has become normal."
Kevin Feige, president, Marvel Studios:
"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!' But I think it showed how diverse these movies can be. I root for ever 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."
Zack Snyder, director, Man of Steel:
"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.'"
Drew Goddard, director and co-writer, Cabin in the Woods:
"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 that 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."
For more film folks looking back on TDK, you'll have to pick up the print edition of Empire, because they're mean that way.