Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Nolanification of Hollywood

"Look, up in the sky!"
"It's a bird."
"It's a plane".
"It's Superman!"

That is how I remember Superman from my childhood. The ultimate symbol of super-strength. And as far as this eight year old was concerned, Superman easily obliterated Batman and Spiderman put together simply using his Heat vision.

That was the time when there were essentially three characters in the average superhero movie. The superhero himself, of course, occupied the prime spot. He would single-handedly bash up the cronies/minnions of the villain, give a lecture or two to the repeat offender of a villain before beating him up too and saving the damsel in distress as the cops looked on or cheered. There were a few minor details here and there about the superhero's parallel life as a simpleton, but that's about all there was to the movie.

In a way, everyone in the superhero movie functioned essentially as 10 year olds. And so the movie itself was meant for the 10 year olds.


That innocence has all but died. Come 2013, and we are going to be in another world. A world where nobody will look up into the sky and guess stupidly about planes and birds before finally getting it right. A world where Clark Kent has to ask himself,"Is the world ready for Superman?" It is like asking,"Is the world ready for incredible awesomeness?" It sounds incredibly lame.

This is the new world that we live in. A world of superheroes inspired by the creative brilliance of Christopher Nolan. A man who has given depth and meaning to these out-of-the-world characters, thus making them and their villains, well much more life-like.

The average superhero today does not just beat up the bad guy. He has a complicated life of his own, as does the villain. The Hero has become a selfless guardian who needs to comprehend the morality and consequences of his actions on the city, despite all the inherent good intentions.

We have a villain with a scary, yet noble vision for the failing city. An evil, violent man with a philosophy of his own on how the world should function.

There are times when the villain seems much more relatable, much more human. Even the average guy on the street has deep insights to offer. Every character has a shade of grey and the viewer is left flummoxed whom to root for.

Besides, there are a large number of back stories of minor characters all supporting the overall narrative. Politics, History, Economics and Foreign Policy are inter-mingled such that the city doesn't function by itself as previously portrayed but instead has a large number of outside factors influencing it.

This is a world where the superhero himself at times seems the reason behind such crazy villains plaguing the city.

So, we have a Joker, telling the sad series of events that happened to his family before he became the psychotic maniac that he is.

We have Rachel Dawes, the Damsel, who after being saved from the jaws of evil, leaves the Superhero in spite of all the muscles and charisma, to be with an average simpleton without superpowers or big money.

We have Alfred the Butler telling his Master how the Gotham city needs Bruce Wayne, his resources and knowledge much more than his alter-ego, the Batman to save the city from the latest villains.

And finally, as this trailer shows, we have a Superman in handcuffs being escorted by a bunch of policemen to prove that even the incorruptible and indomitable Superman isn't above the law.

These are exciting times indeed for the Superhero genre. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.   

Note: This post has been submitted for the Blogathon organised by A Potpourri of Vestiges. If you are a movie buff like me, do check it out, it has some nice reviews.               



  1. Very well conceptualized write up. I myself am a great fan of Christopher Nolan. He has single -handedly revolutionized the action cinema of the West. And even the latest James Bond film, Skyfall testifies it. And you are absolutely right: "The best is indeed yet to come".

    Murtaza Ali

  2. Thanks Murtaza, and yes, Nolan is indeed a visionary of our times. I think he is inspiring a lot of others into making dark, complex movies...Hope Bollywood someday gets inspired by that kind of film-making