Week 9 Reader Post: Batman, Christopher Nolan, and Genre Films

The reading of Cinematic Faith discussed Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman. TFE describes how the definition and meaning of genre changed over time, and how really in the 60s and 70s blockbusters became more and more a thing. I feel like the 6 genres presented by TFE are not so rigid. Filmmakers can expand and blend these main genres and make something far more interesting. Christopher Nolan took the comic book movie “genre” and expanded upon it, bringing this reality to a type of movie narrative that is characterized by the fantastic, by characters with superpowers and abilities never seen in the real world. His film feels real, his villains speak uncomfortable (and warped) truths, and his heroes feel human. This was an effect he was going for, as he discussed in his interview. He layered realism and ensured details spoke to a world that could almost exist in our own.

I really liked the labels put on the three movies in Nolan’s Batman trilogy. We have three movies about a character owned by a company, a character who already has mountains of narrative around him. These movies all take that character, take the comic book movie genre (which, unlike today, hadn’t really exploded into the franchises we have now), and make three completely different feeling films. Like Nolan said in the interview, the first is an adventure film, the second is a crime drama, and the third is more social/political commentary.

So genre is this “type” of film, where we expect certain aspects or themes or plots to be more or less recurrent within that genre. Comic book movies have these cool people who can do these extraordinary things, who battle bad people who do extraordinarily bad things. Nolan’s Batman series certainly has those aspects, but they are rooted in this mechanical, “realistic” world that makes these fantasies all the more believable. I mean, we have a DA and a detectives office, we talk about accounting and banks in a lot more detail than say, Raimi’s Spiderman movies (correct me if I’m wrong, I don’t remember it being as “realistic”).

Why do you all think genre is important when discussing films? How do you think Nolan subverts our expectations of a superhero movie with his Batman trilogy?

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