While Marvel Studios has been building their cinematic universe since 2008, it wasn’t until last year that DC Comics started working on theirs. While they did release several films between 2008 and 2013, such as the box office powerhouse The Dark Knight and the critical flop Green Lantern, Man of Steel was their first entry of the DC Cinematic Universe, and we won’t be revisiting this world until the 2016 release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. With that in mind, why did DC and Warner Bros. take so long to start building this gigantic franchise? It turns out they wanted someone specific to lead the charge, but this person wasn’t interested.
While running an extensive article about director Christopher Nolan’s projects (in anticipation of the release of Interstellar), The Wall Street Journal briefly mentions Nolan’s connection to the more recent DC Comics films. Pointing out that retaining the director for their big franchises is "a top priority," Warner Bros. apparently wanted Nolan to produce a Justice League film and Batman reboot. While he ended up producing Man of Steel, he declined to do the other projects, which is why it’s taken longer for these DC films to come out.
Christopher Nolan revitalized the Batman film franchise with the Dark Knight trilogy, so it’s understandable that Warner Bros. would want him to be the producer of their biggest films. It also stated in the article that Warner Bros. "leaves him alone" on his projects, allowing him to work with minimal interference. When it comes to superhero movies, it’s always better when the creative forces of the project aren’t being restricted by the studio.
However, Nolan has always seemed like the type of director who also doesn’t want to be tied down to a franchise. He’d rather be free to pursue other creative endeavors. Batman was obviously the exception, but since he succeeded in telling his ideal Batman story over three movies, that was a reward enough for him. He may have produced Man of Steel as a side project, but despite many fans wanting him to serve a role similar to Joss Whedon or Kevin Feige with Marvel, Nolan never expressed any interest in diving into more superhero material. Frankly, with the grounded and realistic take of his Batman films, Nolan might not have been the best choice for the more fantastical DCCU.
As it stands now, Zack Snyder has filled the role of "head" of the DCCU, directing Man of Steel, Batman V Superman and Justice League Part I and II. As for Nolan, he left his mark on superhero movie history, so let’s just look forward to the projects he’ll be delivering in the future. Interstellar comes out on November 5, and considering it’s one of the few movies this year that isn’t based on a preexisting work, it has that working to its advantage.
Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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