I think it’s kind of neat that two individuals who did not make a name for themselves in comics have been centrally responsible for the rise of comic book movies in film of late and think a little background on both writers might go a long way toward showing us where both DC and Marvel will be going over the next few years.
Christopher Nolan first made a name for himself with Memento, a psychological thriller in which the main character has no short-term memory. Nolan did a beautiful job of demonstrating his confusion by mixing up the order of the movie. He followed that up with the Batman trilogy in which he probably delivered the deepest, most real portrayal of one of the most interesting comic book characters. In there somewhere he made Inception, a movie about dreams that puts Dreamscape to shame. And now he has come up with Interstellar, something that promises to have a depth of humanity that is rarely managed in the popular media as it explores several central issues about being human.
Nolan’s characters aren’t generally funny but they are engaging. It is rare that one finds a writer or director who can make anything without using some comedy to break up the more dramatic scenes. Yet he manages, and he does it well. In writing Man of Steel he again worked the same wonder. It frightens me when I realize that Batman vs. Superman will not have the benefit of his input (at least officially), especially when I consider that the introduction of so many heroes to the DC film universe all at once is a massive undertaking and will in many ways be more difficult than the four films in which he did participate.
Joss Whedon first came to the public’s eye with Buffy the movie, which was campy but fun. Through the series of Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse he managed to write stories in the best tradition of Science Fiction/Fantasy while touching on themes like Feminism, the ills of capitalism, the immorality of government, and teenage angst. His material never got boring, though. Whedon wrote characters with their own languages who were different and developing. Most important, he could make the audience laugh. When Buffy stops in the middle of a fight to make some harsh comment about fashion or the irony of the situation you can relate to it. When you see Malcolm Reynolds sitting on a rock, naked but with a genuine smile on his lips, your jaw drops but you get it. When he did Avengers I was delighted, that he is taking an active part in the Marvel universe is reassuring. For as long as he is involved it will be taken care of.
That’s not to say that DC will not be worth watching over the next few years. I have hope for the movies and I am enjoying their current run of t.v. shows. It’s just that they are more uncertain is all.