Director was "nervous" mounting Batman film sequel

Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:05am EDT
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By Iain Blair

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - When Chris Nolan took on the job of directing "The Dark Knight," the highly anticipated sequel to his 2005 box office smash "Batman Begins," he knew what he was getting into. After all, he'd done it before.

Still, British director Nolan admitted to being "nervous" when he set about making another Batman movie because he knew "The Dark Knight," which debuts in U.S. theaters on Friday, needed to take audiences to places they hadn't been in "Batman Begins," which raked in $372 million at global box offices.

Making a crowd-pleasing Batman film is even more difficult because the comic book icon has been immortalized in TV and movies many times before, including the film series that began with 1989's "Batman" and ended with 1997's critically panned "Batman & Robin," which just about killed off the franchise until Nolan came along with "Batman Begins."

"There are very, very few good sequels, I think," he said. "The two I always had in mind, that we were aspiring to be, were "The Godfather II" and "The Empire Strikes Back," the 1980 follow-up to the first, smash hit "Star Wars" movie.

"Other than those, (good sequels) are pretty thin on the ground," he added.

Fortunately for Nolan and the Warner Bros. movie studio, it appears he may have landed on terra firma with "Dark Knight," which has earned strong early reviews in part due to the performance of Heath Ledger as Batman's nemesis, the Joker.

Nolan said the trick to making a good sequel is staying true to the tone of the original film, but at the same time offering audiences something fresh and exciting.

"For instance, right from the start, I wanted this growing feeling about Batman -- that what he's doing isn't working and it's being misinterpreted by the people of Gotham," he said. "I also wanted to make it more expansive and just push it further in all directions.   Continued...

<p>Director Christopher Nolan on the set of the action drama &ldquo;The Dark Knight.&rdquo; REUTERS/Warner Bros./Handout</p>