With the unrelenting extravaganza that is the modern release schedule of superhero movies, it can be easy to forget that the last movie in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight saga was only released five years ago. According to Nolan, more than time and quality separate his films from all the work that’s come out since.
Speaking at a BAFTA event in London, Nolan commented that his superhero films were the last time such a big-budget serialized production had what he called the “luxury” of time.
“That’s a privilege and a luxury that filmmakers aren’t afforded anymore,” said Nolan. “I think it was the last time that anyone was able to say to a studio, ‘I might do another one, but it will be four years.’ There’s too much pressure on release schedules to let people do that now, but creatively it’s a huge advantage. We had the privilege and advantage to develop as people and as storytellers and then bring the family back together.”
Nolan has a point. He, notably, made a passion project of his own between every Batman film he made. First Batman Begins, then The Prestige. Then The Dark Knight, followed by Inception, before his final turn in the Bat-shaped director’s chair for The Dark Knight Rises. And that time away shows, in Nolan’s style and filmmaking methods but also in the mood, tone, and narrative of the three films. Each one, despite continuing the same story, feels incredibly distinct from one another, drawing on a development in ideas and opinions that likely couldn’t have happened without that extra time for the series to lie fallow.
Not that extra time is the key to success either, though. The Dark Knight Rises was far from universally beloved, and though I’m not sure what the fandom consensus is now, at the time it was something of a punchline. So, y’know, different strokes and all that.