Author Christopher Priest has some pretty horrible things to say about Christopher Nolan, the man who brought his book The Prestige to the big screen. Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy was successful both financially and critically, but Priest was less than impressed with Nolan’s take on Batman.
“I don’t like his other work, I think its shallow and badly written. I mean, I’ve got kids who like superheroes and they think the Batman films are boring and pretentious, they like things like The Avengers and Iron Man because they’re fun,” he said.
Of the Dark Knight Trilogy: “Its a wrong move to take a superhero and give it psychological realism. There is no psychological realism. He’s a bodybuilder who jumps off buildings. I’m sorry I feel really strongly about this.”
Priest thinks that the audience’s reaction is proof of the wrong-headed approach Nolan took to superhero films, detailing how he had witnessed people being bored and distracted only to be engaged with moments of action. “And every now and then the guy jumps off the building on a rope, and they watch it and go, ‘Woo!’ Then they lose interest. To me, that’s a real major lack of judgment in Nolan, to go for superhero films. I feel this very strongly.”
Priest concludes by offering Nolan some advice. “What he’s trying to be is some kind of modern [Stanley] Kubrick. And I think he’d be better off being a modern [Alfred] Hitchcock, basically. A maker of well-made films like Memento and The Prestige. And these blockbusters are just embarrassing, I think. I haven’t seen the new one yet.”
Ouch. It is hard to know where to start with Priest’s comments. I think it is telling that he thinks Nolan’s blockbusters are shallow, but he makes an exception for the movie based on his book. Also, telling another storyteller what they should or should not be is incredibly presumptuous. Nolan can make whatever kind of film he wants to make and if it doesn’t work, audiences will vote with their wallets. It isn’t really Priest’s place to tell Nolan what films he should be making, and for him to criticize the Dark Knight Trilogy over two years after the last film stinks of a grab for headlines.
Ultimately, I don’t give Priest’s assessment of the Dark Knight Trilogy a whole lot of weight because he has a problem with Nolan’s take on the material. He doesn’t think any superhero movie should be given any realism. Clearly a lot of people disagree, including myself. Should every superhero get the Nolan treatment? No, but at the same time, I would like to know where Priest found a kid who thought The Dark Knight was boring and pretentious. I strongly suspect that this kid does not exist.