The Dark Knight Trilogy Was Inspired by Richard Donner's Superman

We've known for a while that DC Entertainment's executives--and particularly Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns--have a soft spot for Richard Donner and his particular take on Superman, which in 1978's Superman: The Movie touched off the modern era of comics-to-film adaptations. Apparently, The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan shares that enthusiasm with his cohorts at Warner Brothers.

Asked in a new interview about the daunting task of rebooting the Batman franchise following the Tim Burton and Joel Schmacher films, Nolan first said that "rebooting" a franchise wasn't really a thing that happened when he took over Batman Begins, that it's a relatively recent concept. He said that it was mostly about finding a version of the character that was different enough from what came before, but still worked.

"I had in mind a sort of treatment of Batman that Richard Donner might have done in the late Seventies the way he did Superman," Nolan told Film Comment. "To me what that represented was firstly a detailed telling of the origin story, which wasn’t even really definitively addressed in the comics over the years, funnily enough. And secondly, tonally I was looking for an interpretation of that character that presented an extraordinary figure in an ordinary world. So I wanted the inhabitants of Gotham to view Batman as being as outlandish and extraordinary as we do."

He went on to later add, "I felt a lot of the scale of Batman Begins should come through the casting, and once again I looked back to Richard Donner’s Superman for that because he cast Marlon Brando and Glenn Ford and Ned Beatty, all the characters were played by these terrific stars. So we went after that kind of depth of casting. And then as you come to explore the world of Gotham, and revisit it, and revisit it again in The Dark Knight Rises, because you’ve got this set of massively talented stars there, you’re able to deal with the truth of some of these extraordinary situations that the mythology of the character and your spin on it has put together."