With it looking more and more likely that The Dark Knight will have a large role in what happens at the Academy Awards, isn’t it about time someone caught up with Christopher Nolan? Thankfully the LA Times got to sit down with the director, presumably before everyone there was fired. In the first part of a three part interview, Mr. Nolan talks about The Dark Knight‘s runaway success ("It’s mystifying") and what he plans on doing next ("I certainly feel like taking on something smaller"). Of course we don’t really care about any of that… we just want to know about a third Batman movie!
Not surprisingly, Mr. Nolan gives what he astutely calls a "suitably slippery answer" when talking about another sequel:
Hmm. Tough question. We’re not sure we can think of one. Maybe The Bourne Ultimatum? But even that was just a retread of the previous two films. Still, despite his concerns, it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if Mr. Nolan signs on to a third Batman. The reason: a load of money.
But, the bigger problem for the next Batman isn’t whether or not Mr. Nolan comes back; it’s what to do with the Joker. Though no one seems to want to say it, Heath Ledger’s death puts a major knot in the storytelling. Mr. Nolan left the Joker alive at the end of The Dark Knight because he obviously wanted the option of bringing Mr. Ledger back again. Now what? Do you hastily kill the Joker off-screen between movies? Stick him in Arkham Asylum and pretend he can’t get out? Have someone do a Heath Ledger impression over the phone while the Joker tells Batman he moved to Metropolis? None of it flies. And after the impact the Joker had on the scope of The Dark Knight as a narrative driver, we can’t imagine just plum not mentioning him in a third film. It would be ridiculous.
If Mr. Nolan can figure out a way to effectively navigate these waters, more power to him. But we don’t have faith. Lest we forget, this is also the guy responsible for The Prestige.