Nolan Brothers Disagreed on ‘Dark Knight Rises’ Villain at First: Jonathan Was ‘Unsure’ About Bane, ‘Started to Play With the Idea of the Riddler’ Instead

Jonathan Nolan appeared on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast to tout his latest television series, Prime Video’s “Fallout,” but the conversation touched on Nolan’s time co-writing “Batman” movies with his brother, Christopher Nolan. The siblings share screenwriting credit on 2008’s “The Dark Knight” and 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” Jonathan admitted that he was pushing for the Riddler to be the primary villain of “Rises” and not Bane, which is what Christopher and David S. Goyer were planning. Goyer co-wrote “Batman Begins” and worked on the stories for the two sequels.

“We had these conversations,” Jonathan said. “Bane came out of a conversation with David [Goyer] and Chris. I was unsure about that at the story stage, but I [didn’t want it to be] back seat driving. Chris understood that what we had done and what Heath [Ledger] had done with [Joker] — you didn’t want to go anywhere near it.”

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“I started to play with the idea of the Riddler and what could be done with that character,” Nolan continued. “But it did feel like close enough to the space of what we had done with Heath, and you really needed to [change direction]. There’s another genre shift there. One of the things I was excited about for ’The Dark Knight Rises’ was that if you do a kind of urban crime genre for [‘The Dark Knight’], the third one was a post-apocalyptic film. You sort of go: Batman always saves the day and the city survives. Why can’t we destroy Gotham and see what happens afterwards?”

Jonathan’s push for the Riddler aligns with Warner Bros. at the time. During his own appearance on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast last year, Goyer admitted that the head of Warner Bros. personally requested Nolan cast Leonardo DiCaprio as the Riddler in what would become “Rises.”

“After ‘The Dark Knight,’ the head of Warner Bros. at the premiere said, ‘You got to do the Riddler. Leo as the Riddler. You got to tell Chris, Leo as the Riddler,’” Goyer remembered at the time. “And that’s not the way we work.”

The Riddler had previously been brought to the screen by Jim Carrey in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” (1995). Goyer and the Nolan brothers ultimately decided to go with Bane, played by Tom Hardy. “Rises” concluded Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, which ended up being a longer run of comic book movies then the director originally envisioned for himself. As Jonathan revealed this month on the “Armchair Expert” podcast, Christopher was hesitant to even make one sequel to “Batman Begins.”

“Chris was on the fence about making another one,” Jonathan said, noting that Chris went straight from “Batman Begins” into helming the magician thriller “The Prestige.” “He didn’t want to become a superhero movie director.”

“So I was literally sitting with [producer] Charles Roven and Chris and being like, ‘Dude, don’t be a chicken shit. Let’s do this!’” Jonathan continued. “And I knew with the script — and he developed the story with David Goyer with a little bit of input from me — it was like first act detailed, second act somewhat detailed, third act … uh, he rides away at the end — once we had the script done, I was like, ‘This is going to be great. This is exciting. We gotta make this movie.’ And eventually, he came around. He did manage to avoid being pigeonholed.”

Watch Jonathan Nolan’s full appearance on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast in the video below.

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