You could get all bent out of shape over the statements that Christopher Priest — the author of The Prestige, which was adapted for the screen by Christopher Nolan — made about Nolan’s Dark Knight films, but honestly, he’s a 71-year-old novelist, and not exactly the target audience for a superhero film. He’s a nice, old fella, who says that when he was hiring directors to adapt The Prestige, he chose Christopher Nolan over Sam Mendes based on The Following and on the fact that Nolan was still young and up-and-coming and that’s the kind of guy that Priest wanted to support, whereas Mendes was already established.
That said, as Priest tells the French movie site Skript, he’s not a particularly big fan of Nolan. “I’ve only ever had one meeting with him, when the film was finished. Because I wasn’t very interested in him. We all have different points of view on the world. To the world he’s this great, innovative filmmaker; to me, he was a kid who wanted to get into Hollywood.” Priest only holds two of Nolan’s films in high regard: The Prestige and Memenot.
Of the rest? Priest is not a fan. “I don’t like his other work; I think its shallow and badly written. I mean, I’ve got kids who like superheroes, and they think the Batman films are boring and pretentious. They like things like The Avengers and Iron Man because they’re fun,” he said.
Specifically on The Dark Knight trilogy, Priest thinks, “It’s a wrong move to take a superhero and give it psychological realism. There is no psychological realism. He’s a bodybuilder who jumps off buildings. I’m sorry I feel really strongly about this.”
Different strokes. It’s true that there is no sense of humor in The Dark Knight films (in fact, jokes aren’t even allowed the the DC Superhero Universe, godfathered by Nolan), but psychological realism is exactly what made The Dark Knight films so incredible, although Batman is a different beast than Superman and other comic-book heroes with actual superpowers, which is why maybe the Nolan template wasn’t as successful with Man of Steel.
I won’t disagree that Nolan is pretentious, though. But he’s our pretentious director. Sophisticates have Truffaut, degenerates have Von Trier, Brooklyn-ites have Wes Anderson, we geeks have Nolan. I wouldn’t want every superhero film to be like The Dark Knight trilogy, obviously, but they certainly have their place.
“What he’s trying to be is some kind of modern [Stanley] Kubrick,” Priest continued? “And I think he’d be better off being a modern [Alfred] Hitchcock, basically. A maker of well-made films like Memento and The Prestige. And these blockbusters are just embarrassing, I think.”