Thursday, July 14, 2011
I hear you're working on a third installment for your highly popular Batman series. Congratulations on making it this far! It's a crowded superhero market out there, and while many would agree you're the creme de la creme of the bunch, a third installment is a tricky thing. So tricky in fact that even directors so lauded and praised have tripped, stumbled, and collapsed into oblivion in the face of such a task. Especially when you consider more often than not they're following highly praised second installments. Add to that the superhero brethren you're carrying with you. You're walking down a path set by films like Superman 3, Spider-Man 3, Batman Forever (nipples 4 life), X-Men: The Last Stand, and Blade: Trinity. Sure, they might not all be bad, but hell if I don't think we can all agree they're damned divisive. And you, Mr. Nolan have as much, if not more, riding on this third installment than anyone. What comes from this will forever define how your Batman trilogy is perceived throughout the cinema marketplace.
So, I thought I'd offer up a little bit of advise. Three lessons learned from the myriad of installments that have come before you. Are you ready?
3. The Rule of Godfather 3 - Static Is as Audiences Snore: Make sure you have an honest story to tell. Nobody wants a 2 1/2 hour ride to nowhere, no matter how over the top or exciting it may be. Also, don't hire any relatives to play crucial roles. It never works out.
2. The Rule of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - Cheese Undermines Narrative: Everybody loves a little bit of poking fun at your series more goofy aspects, but if you take it too far then you lose the emotional connection. The audience begins wondering why Parker Posey is so camped up and how Jessica Biel ever became a superfighter while Wesley Snipes gives painfully forced speeches through a silent but deadly characters. Or why the hell Richard Pryor is in the damned thing at all.
1. The Rule of the Superhero - Don't Rewrite the Past: This is the key rule. The crucial rule. The most important rule. It has bewitched and undermined just about every superhero film I listed above. They went back to the beginning, and rewrote their own origin story. You cannot get twice the drama from a single event. Further more by trying to rewrite your origin, you end up devaluing the earlier installments, disconnecting the audience from their understanding of your characters and leave them hanging. Your history is left in stone, and if you remove it, you remove your fanbase from it. Never a good way to go.
So, Mr. Nolan, I wish you the best of luck. I know you have the full and undisputed faith of your legion of fans. But their faith in your does not impose anything onto the film you are creating. Unlike the likes of a Transformers series, you have a high bar set and an expectation to meet. Just surviving on pure adrenaline won't be enough. You're going to have to deliver, and deliver well.
All The People Who Want You To Succeed But Won't Blindly Accept That You're Going To (Association?)