You might not realize it, but Oppenheimer wasn’t actually the first time Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy worked together. Murphy, who portrayed the father of the atomic bomb in the somber biopic, had previously starred as Scarecrow in 2006’s Batman Begins.
Nolan’s darker and more contemplative style of filmmaking was the perfect choice for the DCU‘s rebooted Batman franchise, as Christian Bale portrayed a more troubled, morally grey version of the DC character that we hadn’t seen much on screen before.
Batman Begins was quickly followed by The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, but as proud as Nolan is of his DC movies, he’s kinda tired of talking about them. “If I start talking about comic book movies, that would be the only thing anybody pays any attention to in the article,” he explained to a Variety reporter.
The discourse surrounding superhero movies and their artistic merit is tedious at the best of times, but Nolan is in a unique position as a filmmaker because he managed to achieve both feats. Namely, to produce an entertaining superhero franchise movie while also turning it into an art form and making it a force of nature to awards bodies like the Academy.
Before Nolan came along, superhero movies weren’t really considered to be in the same league as drama movies or biopics. A movie could be a superhero film or objectively good — but it could rarely be both. While superhero movies’ technical aspects, like VFX, were sometimes noticed by awards bodies, acting performances and directing were often overlooked. This is something that changed with Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and arguably paved the way for more emotionally-charged and stylistic superhero films.
But while Nolan remains proud of his achievements, it seems like he isn’t keen on dwelling on his best movies too much — but that doesn’t mean he won’t return to direct new movies in a franchise one day.
“Ideas come from everywhere,” he noted. “I’ve done a remake, I’ve made adaptations from comic books and novels, and I’ve written original screenplays. I’m open to anything. But as a writer and director, whatever I do, I have to feel like I own it completely. I have to make it original to me: The initial seed of an idea may come from elsewhere, but it has to go through my fingers on a keyboard and come out through my eyes alone.”