Praising Christopher Nolan, Hollywood's True Iconoclast

Praising Christopher Nolan, Hollywood's True Iconoclast

Let’s take a moment to toast director Christopher Nolan before anyone gets the chance to see his latest film, “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Yes, it’s premature to celebrate a film before it opens, but Nolan’s approach to filmmaking deserves kudos no matter what we see come July 20.

“Rises” won’t be shown in 3D, a testament to Nolan’s ability to fight Hollywood’s power structure – and win. The film will be the last in his Batman franchise. No drawn-out fourth installment, no sense that the series is running on fumes. This is a trilogy, he tells us, and it’s hard to believe he’ll change his mind any time soon.

This week, Nolan refused to take part in a proposed “Justice League” project, DC Comics’ answer to the wildly profitable “Avengers” feature. Just imagine the blank check the studio would have handed him for that project. But Nolan routinely bucks conventional wisdom and emerges stronger for it.

In 2010 he gave us “Inception,” a film smarter than a dozen popcorn films combined. Nolan trusted audiences would eagerly follow his vision no matter how twisted the path. And the box office results proved him right.

And his 2008 modern classic “The Dark Knight” wove conservative themes into the narrative in such a fashion that both sides of the ideological aisle could embrace elements of it. That’s the kind of storytelling trick rarely even attempted these days.

It’s also impossible to argue Nolan forever changed the face of superhero movies. Would the new “Amazing Spider-Man” be as somber, and as gritty, had “The Dark Knight” not arrived before it? “Knight” famously lost out on a Best Picture nomination, but just the fact that a comic book movie could be in the running was a statement that couldn’t be ignored.

We take our costumed crusaders seriously now thanks to Nolan, and top-tier talent like Christian Bale gladly tromp around the set under pounds of latex and cloth for the chance to tell Nolan’s super stories.

For all the aforementioned reasons, Nolan is a winner no matter how good – or disappointing – “The Dark Knight Rises” proves to be.

Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies