When Christopher Nolan rebooted The Caped Crusader with Batman Begins in 2005, superhero movies were in a completely different place than they are today. Now the cornerstone of film studios entire blockbuster release plans, at that time they remained the "sometimes they work, sometimes they're bad, and sometimes we make money off of them." Warner Bros. was still guarded over the character's presence on the big screen since it was just eight years removed from the release of Batman & Robin, which was still fresh on audience's minds, and as some viewers may not recall, Nolan's reinvention was a radical departure for the hero on screen.
While promoting Tom Shore’s new book “The Nolan Variations," Nolan and Shore took part in a virtual discussion of the book and his career with 92Y (H/T Indiewire). The director brought this up in the talk but also opened up about how there was less pressure on him to deliver a movie or a sequel before the current climate of superhero movies at the studios.
“It was the right moment in time for the telling of the story I wanted to do,” Nolan said. “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.”
To his credit, Nolan is correct about the differences between how superhero movies were conceived and thought of at the studio level in 2005 and even in 2008 when his sequel The Dark Knight was released. That year marked the real shift in things, as his movie racked up Academy Award nominations, grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, and saw the release of Marvel Studios' Iron Man, kickstarting the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both films very different, but both completely altered the course of superhero media around the world forever.