THE DARK KNIGHT Writer Jonathan Nolan Offers Insight on the Film’s Most Iconic Line — GeekTyrant


Writer and director Christopher Nolan has such a huge fanbase because he has made one mega blockbuster hit after another, including Inception, Memento, Dunkirk, The Prestige, Interstellar, and most recently Oppenheimer, which won him his first two Oscars, but many fans would count his Dark Knight trilogy as their favorite.

His take on Batman was literally and figuratively dark, as well as seriously crafted, leaving the cartoony iterations behind and telling a gritty story that gripped fans from beginning to end.

Naturally, it’s a franchise he is still asked about, and still refers to years later, as it still resonates with fans as well as the director himself.

In a previous interview in which Nolan sat beside his longtime collaborator and Oppenheimer star, Cillian Murphy, Nolan was explaining the man J. Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist who led the team that created the atomic bomb. It took a toll on Murphy to take on the role, as Oppenheimer was a man who became a figurative punching bag in the years after his creation of the bomb.

Nolan related this back to a line from The Dark Knight, which he co-wrote with his brother Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer. Nolan says it was his brother Jonathan who wrote the line that he feels is the most poignant in the film, and it sort of haunts him to this day.

“I’m plagued by a line from The Dark Knight, and I’m plagued by it because I didn’t write it. My brother [Jonathan] wrote it. It kills me, because it’s the line that most resonates. And at the time, I didn’t even understand it. He says, ‘You either die a hero or you live long enough to become the villain.’ I read it in his draft, and I was like, ‘All right, I’ll keep it in there, but I don’t really know what it means. Is that really a thing?’ And then, over the years since that film’s come out, it just seems truer and truer. In this story, it’s absolutely that. Build them up, tear them down. It’s the way we treat people.”

Now, In a recent interview with THR at SXSW. Jonathan Nolan revealed the origin behind the iconic line:

“It came later in the script. We’ve done a version or two of the script where we were looking for something that would distill the tragedy of Harvey Dent, but that would also apply to Batman. The richness of Batman is in the way this principled, almost Boy Scout-like figure is wrapped up in this kind of ghoulish appearance and his willingness to embrace the darkness. So I was looking at Greek tragic figures.”

What are your thoughts on the meaning behind the classic movie line?


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