The Nolanverse

by Nathan on July 16, 2012 (Movies)

If you've read my other blogs, you have probably gathered the fact that I am a big Christopher Nolan fan, especially of TDK. In four days, the last film in his acclaimed Batman trilogy will be released. But I have to wonder: what will Nolan do next? That's one purpose of this blog. I want to share a story that I think Christopher Nolan should turn into a movie. I've heard and read that Nolan's other two standalone movies, The Prestige and Inception, are actually parts one and two of ANOTHER trilogy Nolan is doing. Not a trilogy as in story wise, but a trilogy in idea. And I think I've found some connections between Inception and The Prestige. I said I would share a movie I would like Nolan to make. I have no idea what other films Nolan has planned, so I'm just making up an idea of what the third movie in this other "trilogy" could be: A film adaptation of G.K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday, one of my favorite books ever. And there may be connections here too. But more on that later.

I've broken this blog into categories. Some of the ideas have come from my own head and some from things I've read or heard. So, not everything in this blog is original. Sorry. The things regarding TMWWT are. I'll tell when I'm taking something from something I've read or heard. But enough of this introductory stuff...let's get into the Nolanverse (NOTE: Spoilers follow, so read at your own peril).

THE MAGIC TRICK: I once read that Nolan's Batman trilogy is connected to the three magic act steps his movie The Prestige talks about. The pledge, the turn, and the prestige. In the pledge, the magician shows you an ordinary object, though you already know or he tells you it isn't what you think. I kinda think it's also a promise, an actual pledge the magician makes to grab the audience's attention, to tell them, "I'm gonna show you something extraordinary." The second step is the turn. This is where the magician makes the seemingly ordinary object do something extraordinary. Say it's a disappearing trick. This is where the object would vanish. But, of course, the act isn't over. The third part is the prestige, where the big reveal happens. This is where the real magic happens, where the vanished object returns out of nowhere, the man trapped in the box gets out, etc. etc. Without the prestige, you're left hanging. Nolan's Batman trilogy does act like this...and so does his other "trilogy." Granted, the third movies of either trilogy aren't out yet, so I'm inserting my own ideas into what could be his prestige.

THE PLEDGE: Batman Begins/The Prestige: In Batman Begins, we are shown how normal Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. He's ordinary as Bruce, but it's when he becomes Batman that Nolan tells us, "I'm gonna show you something extraordinary." One could argue that having Bruce become Batman is extraordinary in itself, but I want to stress that Batman Begins is a setup. That's the point of the pledge. To get you ready for the next two parts. Batman Begins gears us up for what happens next. The Prestige is also a pledge. It sounds kind of odd having his pledge be The Prestige, but it's what he did. I guess one could also say The Prestige is all three magic steps in one, but I'll let you picky fans quibble about that on your own. The point is that The Prestige is a promise. Like I said, the pledge is a magician's way of telling you he'll do something amazing. Nolan also tells us the objects he's using (the characters, namely Robert Angier and Alfred Borden) aren't ordinary. I do struggle seeing this as the pledge, since the movie itself is so incredible, with a jaw-dropping ending. But, I think that it IS a promise to us by Nolan. A promise that he will show something extraordinary.

THE TURN: The Dark Knight/Inception: The turn, where the ordinary object becomes something incredible, takes place in two of Nolan's greatest films and my two personal favorites. The Dark Knight shows a progression. Batman becomes more than a hero; he becomes an incorruptible symbol. He goes from ordinary to extraordinary. Also, the turn sets you up for the prestige, leaves you hanging. That's what TDK does (kinda literally, since near the end, Batman hangs off a piece of wood...he does fall eventually, but still...). It leaves you wondering just what will happen to Batman. Also, the turn could possibly focus on disappearance. TDK does that. The hero Batman vanishes, replaced by the symbol. Harvey Dent vanishes, replaced by Two-Face. Movie-wise, in the end, one could also say Batman vanishes as you know he could go into retirement as the police chase him and such. TDK is probably Nolan's greatest film, turning him into something extraordinary as well. In Inception, Nolan turned the ordinary concept of dreams into an incredible idea. He also left you wondering. Where is Dom Cobb really? Okay, so people who have analyzed the movie and credits say they heard the top fall or claim he's in a dream whenever he wears his ring or whatever. Big deal. I still don't want to believe. The turn leaves you questioning reality. You CAN'T figure out what happens until the prestige. And Inception ends before you can fully deduce what really happens. Inception, I think, is the perfect turn.

THE PRESTIGE: The Dark Knight Rises/The Man Who Was Thursday: Well, you can't just leave us hanging, can you? That's why we have a prestige. Sure, the intricacies of the whole trick still evade you, but you know it's come around. The vanished object returns and whatnot. That's where TDKR comes into play. I think it's safe to say Batman comes back. He will. He'll rise from retirement and return to stomp Bane. The turn that was TDK not only transformed him from ordinary to extraordinary, but it also made him vanish. Now, he has to come back. He's been turned into a symbol and now he must return to finish up the magic trick. The Batman trilogy has been divided into three acts. This is Nolan's prestige. The prestige is also where the magician gets the applause. Maybe Batman will finally get some credit, be seen as a hero and symbol instead of feared. Now we get to the other "trilogy." TMWWT could be another prestige for Nolan. Why? This: Inception left us hanging, wondering if Dom was really asleep or awake. TMWWT takes place in a dream (or, more accurately, and as the subtitle says, "A Nightmare"). At the end, main character Gabriel Syme wakes up from this dream. Here is our prestige. The object comes back. The character returns to reality. This is one of the reasons I think Nolan should do TMWWT.

FULL CIRCLE: I think I can say Nolan's trilogies could come full circle. Maybe not end where they started, but give the audience a sense of fulfillment. Or maybe they could sorta end where they started. I'll talk about what I mean.

THE BATMAN TRILOGY: Batman's story is like a chart. You have some growth here, a dip there...TDK ended with a major fall. Really, the story begins with a fall, when Bruce Wayne, as a child, tumbled into a cave with bats. The incident frightened him, but it later inspired him to become Batman. Even the cover of Batman Begins shows him descending. Now, TDKR will have him do the opposite. He'll rise. The story comes full circle. He's fallen so much, but now he's capable of rising back to where he was before. And people have asked the question, "What will happen to Batman? Will he die? Retire?" Though I'd hate to see him die, it seems slightly fulfilling for him to retire. His journey's done. Again, it's a circle. Beginning to end.

THE OTHER TRILOGY: Really, there seems to be no connection with these movies, right? Wrong. The Batman trilogy flows from one movie to another. This trilogy can too. In The Prestige, Borden gets a diary of Angier's. As he reads it, we head into the past. In the past, Angier gets a diary of Borden's, pushing us deeper into the past. It goes like levels...kinda like Inception. Was The Prestige heralding Inception? I don't know, but Inception could do the same thing. Inception is about dreams...but what if Nolan could do a nightmare. Like The Man Who Was Thursday maybe? The book takes place at the end of the Victorian era, a period in which The Prestige takes place. The Prestige was based off a book, and TMWWT is a book. Those may sound like lame connections, but maybe this next one will help my idea. This past school year, I read TMWWT for a school assignment. I did a presentation on a couple of themes in the book. As an introduction, I mentioned Nolan's movies, claiming they had the two themes I would talk about. Here's an excerpt:

"In many of Nolan's films, the idea of reality is dealt with. In the movie Inception, certain people are so addicted to the dream worlds in their heads that the dream becomes their reality. In his Prestige and his Batman movies, men hide behind masks, false mustaches, and makeup in order to keep their identities hidden. These two aspects, false worlds and hidden people, are sewn throughout "The Man Who Was Thursday," creating a web that deals with the truth of reality itself."

TMWWT combines the two aspects Nolan's movies uses. It takes The Prestige's false men and Inception's false realities. Maybe this doesn't make it come "full circle," but it could very well give viewers both The Prestige and Inception at the same time...which would be really cool.

CONNECTIONS: I already mentioned the connections between the movies that could form Nolan's "other trilogy," but what about connections between each movie of each trilogy? I talked about how they each represent the pledge, the turn, and the prestige in their own rights. But could there be connections between each pledge, turn, and prestige? Let's find out.

Batman Begins/The Prestige: Well, other than the fact that both movies star Christian Bale and Michael Caine (actually, every Nolan movie I've seen stars Michael Caine...), they are both about obsession. In Batman Begins, Bruce gets the obsession to make Gotham City a better place, to fight the criminals that hurt and kill people. In The Prestige, Borden and Angier want to one-up each other, show the world who is the better magician. Both of these situations are created out of tragedy. The deaths of Bruce's parents drives him to don the mantle of Batman. The death of Angier's wife drives him to want to defeat Borden the only way he knows how, through magic. Both movies show alter egos. Batman can be billionaire playboy Bruce one minute, the caped vigilante the next. Borden seemingly struggles against himself about which woman to love, his wife or another woman (spoiler: it is actually revealed Borden has a twin, a fact he hides from everyone. Him and the twin switch identities at times, which furthers the alter ego idea. They both love a different woman, removing the idea of Borden's inner struggle. There is no struggle...but it is a case of different identity).

The Dark Knight/Inception: They're both psychological thrillers, to start. They get into your head...literally, in Inception's case. TDK pits Batman against a foe he needs to outthink. Inception navigates you through the world of dreams. They are both complex, but for different reasons. Inception has a complex storyline and concept, with an ending that leaves you wondering if any of it is actually real. TDK is complex because of the characters, The Joker especially. You know virtually nothing about him, and what you do know could very well be a lie. They both deal with morality. TDK pushes characters, asking how much does someone need to be shoved and tossed around before they snap. And it asks what line will you cross to make things right. "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Inception talks about letting go. Dom Cobb can't forget his wife, can't let her memory move on. He needs to keep some part of her...but does he really? Or can he release the pain he's held inside for so long?

The Dark Knight Rises/The Man Who Was Thursday: TDKR isn't out yet, and TMWWT isn't even a movie, but I bet I can find some things to compare. How about the villains? Both are big and smart. And they both are leaders. In the comics, Bane broke Batman's back after orchastrating a criminal break-out and deducing his secret identity. Could he do both in the film? Sunday is an anarchist leader who's absolutely huge. He doesn't use his muscle much, but it's his brains that gives the story pretty awesome twists. Then there's transformation. Bruce Wayne may have given up being Batman. He's normal. But he may have to don the cowl once again. Gabriel Syme was just a poet, but he was recruited to be a detective who then had to pose as an anarchist. And what I really want in TDKR is a shocker of an ending. Maybe a really big twist...I don't know, but something to make everyone who had their theories say in jaw-dropped awe, "Oh! Why didn't I think of that?" TMWWT has an ending like that, when it's revealed that Sunday isn't as he seems and that the whole story is a dream.

Christopher Nolan is, if nothing else, a storyteller. He imbues his stories with character, drama, action, setting, wit, and brilliance. I have no idea what his next projects will be, but I think it would be totally awesome if he could one day do a movie based off The Man Who Was Thursday. But, til then, we'll just have to see how he finishes up Batman.

Tags: Movies

Comments

  • A very nice read. Well thought out. Is the TMWWT as a movie completely your idea, or have you read that somewhere?

    Comment by Scott on July 31, 2012

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