Christopher Nolan’s Films Will Never Be Like Marvel’s: Here’s Why

Christopher Nolan may have made a few comic book movies in his day, but don’t ever expect the man to create a Marvel-esque film

Love him or hate him, Nolan is fast becoming one of the most influential filmmakers in this generation. With The Dark Knight, Nolan was able to confirm the comic book movie genre as legitimate filmmaking, in addition to landing Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker. Nolan’s next film, Inception, took the world by storm, spawning countless online memes in the process, and making “ception” one of the most versatile words in the English language.

In a recent appearance on The Colbert Report, Colbert “grilled” him on his films, saying unlike Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Nolan doesn’t seem content to blow things up (via Cinema Blend).

While Colbert’s delivery of the question is silly, he does raise a good point overall. Marvel is very good at making Marvel films, and while those films are largely successful at what they set out to do, there is a definite pattern and formula they adhere close to. They are also very strict on what they allow their films to do, and any director who tries to work outside of that paradigm will likely be let go (e.g., Edgar Wright). While Nolan does seem to have a lot of fun making his films, he is very much outside the paradigm of standard popcorn flicks, as he explains to Colbert.

“I was going to say, don’t do me down on the blowing s*** up. I’ve blown up a lot of s*** in a lot of movies. And I enjoy it very much but I love movies that are very entertaining hopefully. Hopefully the first time you see it you’re on a real ride, Interstellar is certainly meant to be an experience… And then if there’s more to it than that. Something that rattles around in there afterwards maybe you’ll come back and see it again and find more in it.”

Christopher Nolan has taken flak in the past for some aspects of his film. Novelist Christopher Priest (whose novel, The Prestige, was adapted by Nolan into a film) called Nolan’s Batman films boring and pretentious, and many others believe Nolan takes his films far too seriously — all are things no Marvel film has ever been accused of. At the end of the day, Marvel movies and Nolan movies each give very different but equally valid experiences to the viewer. While Marvel films are all about having fun, Nolan is about keeping the audience engaged and guessing throughout. They are two very different filmmaking approaches that both just happen to appeal to a wide audience.

Will Nolan some day create a film more akin to a Marvel film, where it’s more about fun than nail-biting suspense? Perhaps. But with a film Interstellar just being released, it seems like Nolan’s filmmaking trajectory is headed in the complete opposite direction of current Marvel movies.