Filmmaker Christopher Nolan, whose third and final Batman film The Dark Knight Rises hit theaters around the world on Friday, conducted a podcast interview with Empire magazine
Asked what advice he might have for the next director to take the Caped Crusader to the silver screen, Nolan had a pretty articulate, if somewhat vague, answer:
"When I first met with Paul Levitz of DC Comics prior to Batman Begins, he explained to me clearly that Batman, of all superheroes, has thrived on reinterpretation and almost is strengthened by it. And I'm talking about over the years in the comic books but also in the movies," Nolan told Empire. "So when the time is right, whenever someone does whatever the next iteration of the character is, they simply need to be true to whatever it is they want to see, to what they believe in, not worry too much about what everyone else is telling them it should be."
His perspective, then, is probably not all that surprising considering the critical consensus of what his film sare and what they mean. Nolan's Batman films are widely regarded as possibly the first example of a superhero franchise picture where it's being treated as a serious piece of cinema that happens to feature a big, corporate superhero character; he's telling the next director that his opinion is that they just need to do the same thing: Make the best movie you can, using the source material you've got in front of you, and worry about the critics and the past only exactly as much as you would if you were making your own original film.
And, of course, Levitz is right: We've had the Bob Kane Batman who shot at mad scientists and the Adam West Batman with his bottomless utility belt. Neal Adams gave us the brooding Dark Knight that's inspired everything that came after, including Frank Miller's borderline-psychotic interpretation of the character and Grant Morrison's patriarch of the Bat-Family. Is one better than all the others? Your mileage may vary. It'll be interesting to see which one shows up in the next film.