Whilst there were plenty of successful superhero movies in the years beforehand, Christopher Nolan’s 2005 film “Batman Begins” was a game changer. At a time when ‘reboot’ wasn’t even a word, it became the textbook example of how to do it right and bring a beloved franchise back from the dead.
It also brought a dark and serious tone to the genre, one that took its world very seriously. In a new and extensive interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Nolan discussed how the project came to him and revealed that the film that was a major influence on him:
“Yeah. It came to me in a very interesting way, which was my agent, Dan Aloni, called and said, ‘It seems unlikely you’d be interested in this, but Warners is sort of casting around for what they would do with Batman.’ It had reached the end of its last sort of life, if you’d like. And at the time, nobody used the term ‘reboot’ – that didn’t exist – so it was really a question of, ‘What would you do with this?’
I said, ‘Well, actually, that is something I’m interested in,’ because one of the great films that I am very influenced by that we haven’t talked about was Richard Donner’s Superman – 1978, that came out. It made a huge impression on me. I can remember the trailers for it, I can remember about Superman the movie, all of that.
And so I was able to get in the studio and say, ‘Well, that’s what I would do with it.’ I don’t even know who was first banging around the term “reboot” or whatever, but it was after Batman Begins, so we didn’t have any kind of reference for that idea of kind of resetting a franchise.
It was more a thing of, ‘Nobody’s ever made this origin story in this way and treated it as a piece of action filmmaking, a sort of contemporary action blockbuster, grounded in heightened realism, grounded in the degree of realism that we expected at the time from, you know, our action movies, Jerry Bruckheimer action movies and things, that would have realistic textures, you know?”
One person who isn’t a fan of dark, gritty superhero films though is “Kick Ass” and “X-Men: First Class” director Matthew Vaughn. The filmmaker, out doing promotional rounds for his spy action satire “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” tells SFX (via THR) that audiences are now more keen on lighthearted fare:
“People want fun and escapism at the moment. Look at the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. I think Nolan kick-started a very dark, bleak style of superhero escapism, and I think people have had enough of it.”