Batman Director Christopher Nolan Knows Why the Hero's Legacy Endures

The Dark Knight filmmaker says the "essential paradox" of the character is what makes Batman endure.

When it comes to characters, particularly comic book characters, there are few that have the popularity and longevity of Batman. The character has remained a staple of entertainment and storytelling across various forms of media for nearly a century at this point and isn't slowing down anytime soon with numerous Batman comics in print and movies on the horizon — specifically, The Batman Part II heading into theaters in 2026. For Christopher Nolan, who took his own turn telling Batman stories with The Dark Knight trilogy of films, the reason the character remains so popular isn't that complicated. Speaking with BFI, Nolan explained that the idea of someone who feels they have to work outside the system to fix it is "endlessly complex and interesting".

"It is a sort of deal with the devil. I mean, it's really that idea of a sort of means to an end, if you like," Nolan said. "And I think the Batman mythology, one of the reasons that it's continually interesting and is continually reinvented by new generations of comic book writers and artists and filmmakers is because that essential paradox or that essential idea of a good vigilante, you know, somebody who feels that they have to resort to criminal methods or be outside the system in order to fix the system, it's endlessly complex and interesting in its ethics."

Nolan Has Previously Said That He's Glad He Did The Dark Knight Trilogy When He Did

With Nolan's Batman Begins coming out in 2005, the film arrived at a time when comic book movies were in a completely different place than they are now and Nolan's take on the iconic character was considered something of a radical departure from previous on screen takes on Batman previously. Looking back, Nolan has previously said that he's glad that he was able to do his films when he did before the superhero movie landscape and culture completely changed.

"It was the right moment in time for the telling of the story I wanted to do," Nolan said back in 2020. "The origin story for Batman had never been addressed in film or fully in the comics. There wasn't a particular or exact thing we had to follow. There was a gap in movie history. Superman had a very definitive telling with Christopher Reeve and Richard Donner. The version of that with Batman had never been told. We were looking at this telling of an extraordinary figure in an ordinary world."

He continued, "The other advantage we had was back then you could take more time between sequels. When we did 'Batman Begins,' we didn't know we'd do one and it took three years to do it and then four years before the next one. We had the luxury of time. It didn't feel like a machine, an engine of commerce for the studio. As the genre becomes so successful, those pressures become greater and greater. It was the right time."

What Is Christopher Nolan's Next Movie?

Nolan recently had major success with Oppenheimer and since then, there have been many questions about what his next theatrical project will be. The filmmaker explained in an interview last year that his next film won't be quite as dark as Oppenheimer.

"I definitely– part of me wants to leave the story behind," Nolan explained. "I mean, it's a great privilege to be able to talk about a film that you've made that's now going into the home and on 4k and Blu-ray and all the rest. It's great to be able to sit here and talk to you about the success of the movie. That's a huge privilege. But the subject matter is very dark. It's nihilistic. And, yeah, there's part of me that's quite keen to move on and maybe do something, you know, not quite as bleak."