Dark Knight Rises Executive Producer Talks Villains, Casting, And Superman

Michael Uslan, Executive Producer Dark Knight RisesIf you ever have the chance to hear Michael Uslan speak in person, then you should definitely take advantage of the opportunity. Uslan has been an executive producer on all the modern-day Batman movies, including the upcoming Dark Knight Rises. Uslan also wrote the “The Boy Who Loves Batman,” which is a must-read book for all Batman fans.

Speaking at the Great Escape as part of Film-Com, Uslan shared his views on a variety of Batman related topics. As would be expected, Uslan was asked several questions about The Dark Knight Rises. Uslan had high compliments for Tim Burton, Anton Furst and Christopher Nolan, calling them “three geniuses” that he got to deal with in the course of his career.

Of Christopher Nolan, Uslan raved, “The wonderful, amazing Christopher Nolan who has brought us the greatest Batman trilogy in history, and who has revolutionized comic book genre movies, who has raised the bar for all movies of this genre. When you walk out of a Christopher Nolan movie, you don’t have to say that was a great comic book movie, you can say that was a great film. Christopher Nolan deserves all the credit for that.”

After talking about the success of Burton’s Batman movies, Uslan credited Christopher Nolan with once again restoring the dignity of the Batman movie franchise. Uslan said, “And now so many years later to see a genius like Christopher Nolan return the dignity of the Dark Knight to Batman, and in doing so saying, ‘Ok, this is going to be real. I want everybody to believe in Bruce Wayne, to believe the Joker could be real, to believe Gotham City could be real, to believe all this crazy, whacky technology could be real.’ And in my perspective what Chris Nolan has done in order to do that was to find a guy like Christian Bale, and work with Christian Bale, and you follow him on a lost horizon journey of somebody who was traumatized as a child, and you really truly believe in Bruce Wayne and his journey through life. How do you make everyone believe in the Joker? He’s convinced us the Joker is a modern day terrorist. Somebody who places no value whatsoever on human life, not man, woman, child or his own. In a world that’s no longer black and white comic booky, no longer about good vs. evil, but we live in a world that’s gray, that’s order versus chaos, that’s a world a Batman and a Joker could truly live in today.”

But it’s not just the characters that Uslan admires about Nolan’s Batman movies, Uslan added, “Lastly, well not lastly, I almost forgot Gotham City. He didn’t shoot Gotham City in New York. He picked Chicago. You take two iconic buildings out of the skyline of Chicago and most people around the world cannot identify that city. They could believe that truly is Gotham City. Had it shot in New York I contend the first time you see the Statue of Liberty or Times Square, boom that’s New York, that’s not Gotham City, the suspension of disbelief is broken. But how do you convince everybody all this technology is real? Only a genius could figure that out. You hire Morgan Freeman to tell them it’s real! My God, if Morgan Freeman says it, then it’s got to be true.”

For his portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight, Heath Ledger posthumously won an Oscar. Overall, Uslan felt casting has been a major part of the success on Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Uslan said, “Christopher Nolan, part of his genius is his casting. He never casts the obvious, never. Think about it for a second, who is the one and only, the most human character in the Batman movies. Commissioner Gordon, he is Batman’s anchor to his humanity. He and Alfred, he truly is. The most normal guy in this crazy world of Gotham City, well who’s playing this? The guy from Immortal Beloved, The Professional, the guy who was known as the chameleon of movies, whose done some of the most sam wacky crazy things. He’s playing the most human character, that’s the incredible casting that he brings in. I contend that before Dark Knight opened if I had asked every agent and executive in Hollywood to give me a list of twenty actors who they thought could play The Joker I seriously doubt that Heath Ledger’s name would have been on anyone’s list. But Christopher Nolan saw something, he had a vision that was absolutely incredible, resulting in the performance of a lifetime. Who could be more perfect than Michael Caine to play Alfred the butler? And when word began to leak out that Catwoman was in the movie, you start to hear things like it’s got to be Angelina Jolie, she’s perfect for it. And actually if somebody’s perfect for it that might be why they’re not and it’s going to be somebody that nobody suspects. And it’s going to be another amazing turn, I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do with that.”

Of course, it wasn’t all Batman talked, as Uslan shared some thoughts on Superman. While he expressed his feelings on the overuse of Lex Luthor as the villain in previous Superman movies, Uslan had high praise for the upcoming Superman: Man Of Steel movie.  Uslan said, “I believe that there’s a terrific Superman reboot coming with a lot of people who are very, very bright and a lot of people who really, truly care about the character.”

Also, Michael Uslan gave the first spoiler-free spoiler for The Dark Knight Rises that we have ever heard. Yes, he revealed exactly how The Dark Knight Rises ends, but don’t worry it doesn’t give away any details, but rather just showcases how Uslan keeps things interesting with his sense of humor.