LOS ANGELES — Christopher Nolan's
third Batman film will be called "The Dark Knight Rises" and though the
Gotham City auteur isn't ready to reveal the villain of his 2012 film,
he did eliminate one of the big contenders: "It won't be the Riddler,"
Nolan said in an exclusive interview.
Nolan was most eager to talk about the fact that Warner Bros. had agreed with his argument that the film should resist the current 3-D craze and instead use high-definition approaches and IMAX
cameras to strike out on a different cinematic path than the
stereoscopic technology that, for better or worse, has become the
dominant conversation in the blockbuster sector.
As for the title, it shows the writer-director's intention to keep his Bruce Wayne
trilogy tightly stitched together. "We'll use many of the same
characters as we have all along, and we'll be introducing some new
ones," Nolan said cryptically. I had an odd thought: What if Nolan
somehow brings back Harvey Dent? The only reason I
even mention it is because, back during post-production on the second
film, Nolan told me that the title "The Dark Knight" was just as much
about Dent and his fall from the status of shining-knight civic
crusader. Dent was plainly dead at the end of the last film, though,
and Nolan has been intent on keeping his Gotham City film firmly rooted
in a gritty gangland realism — this isn't a franchise that has veered
off into the supernatural or even much super-science.
Nolan plays things close to the vest — he's one of
the few filmmakers of his generation who actually does wear a vest —
and he chuckled when I tried to get a few more details out of him. "Oh,
you know me, I don't talk." He began our conversation by comparing it
with a visit to the dentist's office. Well, if so, he's a patient who
never opens wide. I asked if he could imagine a time when Warner Bros. would let a filmmaker shoot a Batman script where the villain isn't one of the signature creations from the comic books. "Ah, Geoff Boucher, master of the leading question," he said with a chuckle.
That's when he did agree, however, to eliminate a villain candidate, namely Edward Nigma,
the green-suited Riddler, who many people assumed was the next natural
choice. That character could be taken in a lot of directions — think of
Kevin Spacey's character in "Seven" as a compass point for one of those dark paths — but Nolan and his team are going a different way.
As with "Dark Knight," the new film has a script
written by Nolan and his brother, Jonah, and it's based on a story by
the director and David Goyer. Earlier, I got Nolan to
take Mr. Freeze off the list and, yes, this is like pulling teeth but
don't think for a minute that I mind. Nolan makes sublime films, and
any secrets he wants to keep in place are done so to protect the final
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