Christopher Nolan, esteemed director of the critically acclaimed blockbuster Dark Knight trilogy, said during an appearance at the BAFTA: A Life In Pictures event in London that his Batman films were the last time a filmmaker operating in the studio system had the "luxury" of time.
Batman Begins launched in 2005, followed by The Dark Knight in 2008. Its sequel, trilogy closer The Dark Knight Rises, wouldn't reach theaters until 2012.
Nolan followed up Begins with The Prestige in 2006, reuniting the director with his Batman star Christian Bale, who played one half of a pair of warring magicians. After the monumental success of The Dark Knight, Nolan helmed 2010 sci-fi thriller Inception. The Dark Knight Rises would conclude Nolan's epic in 2012, with the filmmaker shutting the door on a possible future return.
Studio Warner Bros. rebooted the character in 2013 by casting Ben Affleck as the newest iteration of the caped crusader, who would make his first appearance in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as part of a wider, shared cinematic universe: what has since been dubbed the DCEU.
Where other Batmen donning the cowl would operate independently, Affleck's Batman was the first to crossover and associate with other DC Comics characters: first in Dawn of Justice, then in Suicide Squad (also 2016), and again for a third time in Justice League, released in November.
Being afforded a three-year gap and then a four-year gap between pictures is a luxury no longer given to filmmakers making such large scale studio movies, Nolan says, courtesy of THR.
“That’s a privilege and a luxury that filmmakers aren’t afforded anymore," Nolan claimed. "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."
Bale's Batman appeared three times over seven years. Affleck's Batman has appeared just as many times in less than half the time. (Across a year and a half, to be precise.)
Affleck is also tentatively attached to reprise his role in The Batman for director Matt Reeves, and could potentially appear in planned spinoffs around supporting Bat-characters like Nightwing, Batgirl and Harley Quinn.
Nolan's trilogy launched before cinematic universes — where characters could crossover, interact and appear successively in multiple movies in the same year or closer together — were a "thing."
Marvel Studios successfully implemented the model with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, kicked off in 2008 with Iron Man, part of the wider Disney-owned connected franchise — which has since gone on to become the highest-grossing franchise of all time. With it comes pressure on specific, pre-determined release dates, as Nolan points out, and movies coming at an accelerated pace.
Nolan most recently helmed World War II drama Dunkirk. Nolan personally oversaw the remaster of his Dark Knight trilogy into the 4K UHD format, with all three films set to release December 19.