Christopher Nolan on his 'last' Batman movie, an 'Inception' videogame, and that spinning top

chris-nolanImage Credit: Melissa MoseleyChristian Bale recently disclosed that he’s approaching his third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, as if it will be his last time playing the caped crusader on the big screen — and the film’s director, Christopher Nolan, is taking the same view. In an interview with EW, Nolan called The Dark Knight Rises “the last chapter of our Batman saga.” When the helmer was asked if any part of him wished he was tackling another original script instead of another Batman sequel in the wake of Inception’s blockbuster grosses (over $820 million worldwide) and Oscar buzz, Nolan replied: “No, it’s exactly the opposite. I feel very glad that I’m doing another Batman film. I think it would have been daunting to sit down and write an original script after Inception. I love working within the realm and rules of our Batman world. It’s kind of nice to have someplace to go that I’m super-excited about.” He added that Inception’s success allows him to tackle another Batman without any sense of needing to prove himself: “I must say that I’m glad — I’m very, very glad — to be embarking on the last chapter of our Batman saga without any sense of obligation or duty to the studio. They did very well with Inception. So I’m able to go into finishing our story in a very enthusiastic way.”

For anyone hoping that Nolan might plunge deeper into the world he created with Inception in the form of a sequel, the filmmaker says… Maybe? But there will be a videogame: “I always imagined Inception to be a world where a lot of other stories could take place,” says Nolan. “At the moment, the only direction we’re channeling that is by developing a videogame set in the world.” He declined to elaborate on details or time table, only to say that he was developing the game with a team of collaborators and that it was “a longer-term proposition.” He calls the medium of videogames “something I’ve wanted to explore” — and certainly a veritable massive multiplayer online role playing game (as imagined by Carl Jung) would seem to be a perfect for the interactive, non-linear dream world of Inception. “As for [movie] sequels,” he says, “it’s not something I want to say no to, but it’s not something I’ve given a lot of thought about.”

But let’s get to the question we’ve been asking since Inception premiered last July and promptly cooked our noodle [and SPOILER ALERT for anyone who missed the movie in theaters and has been waiting until the DVD release next week to see it for the first time]: Did the top stop spinning or what? “I’ve been asked the question more times than I’ve ever been asked any other question about any other film I’ve made,” Nolan laughs. “That’s definitely the question. It keeps coming back to that. What’s funny to me is that people really do expect me to answer it.”

This surprises him, he says, because he thought he had firmly established with his equally trippy breakthrough flick Memento that he likes to remain mum on matters of “proper” interpretation. “With this film, though, people really think I’m going to tell, ” he says. “I get a lot of questions like, ‘Okay, did this thing earlier in the film mean that it’s all true, or does this other thing at another point in the film mean that it’s all a dream?’” Nolan says there’s no definitive answer to that question, because then his choice at the end of the movie to cut away from the spinning top — used by lead character Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) to know whether he’s in the real world (the top falls) or the dream world (the top doesn’t) — would have been an error on his part. “There can’t be anything in the film that tells you one way or another because then the ambiguity at the end of the film would just be a mistake,” he says. “It would represent a failure of the film to communicate something. But it’s not a mistake. I put that cut there at the end, imposing an ambiguity from outside the film. That always felt the right ending to me — it always felt like the appropriate ‘kick’ to me….The real point of the scene — and this is what I tell people — is that Cobb isn’t looking at the top. He’s looking at his kids. He’s left it behind. That’s the emotional significance of the thing.”

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  • rerun

    Glad to see him so enthusiastic for a 3rd batman movie. He is the best director around.

    • Henry

      Agreed. And his choice of director (Zack Snyder) for the forthcoming Superman film he’s producing is spot on. Hollywood should be on its knees thanking this man.

      • Will

        Could not be less excited for Zack Snyder to be director of the next Superman film. Watchmen was terrible.

      • skeletor

        Way to back up your response with substance buddy.
        What was terrible about Watchmen? boring? too long? too violent? etc?
        basically, if its anything other than “it looked ugly” or *spoiler* the squid monster vs the dr manhattan debate, you’re just an ignorant troll, because Zach’s film is the graphic novel essentially storyboarded out, scene for scene.
        If you didn’t like the story, frak off. Snyder didn’t write it. Just as he didn’t write this one. but the man has some visual flair, that’s pretty much beyond debate.

      • Tim

        My issue with Watchmen is that his reverence for the source material is obvious, but that reverence got in the way. It hit all the key plot points, but it seemed like it was more about getting the scenes in than capturing the vibe of Moore.

        I do think Snyder is talented however, and will do well with Superman.

      • monger

        I loved the graphic novel, but as far as the movie, I was underwhelmed by Watchmen, in part because Snyder made the transition from page to screen too literally. It was really mostly style over substance. I have no doubt with a good story and script, Snyder could give a decent Superman flick, at least better than SR.

      • Brett

        Kudos to Nolan and WB for picking Snyder. “Watchmen” was an underappreciated classic, and the frenetic energy brought by Snyder to projects like “Dawn of the Dead” and “300” will hopefully provide a faster paced Superman than Bryan Singer’s ode to “Superman II” with its Christ metaphors and misfired attempts to bring Superman full circle by having fathered a son by Lois Lane.

      • Ry

        ppl are insane. Want to see a bad adaptation that took it’s source material way too seriously? TRY to watch Sin City and not laugh at the acting! The Watchmen had only ONE terrible scene, the “love scene” in the plane (and I agree that was REALLY BAD), but otherwise it was mind blowing. 300 is overrated, but Dawn of the Dead remake was my favorite Zombie movie EVER.

    • tvgirl48

      Agreed as well. It’s great to have a director who makes excellent, blockbuster movies, but also genuinely cares about the quality of them as well. Christopher Nolan proves that not all mainstream movies are awful just because they’re popular. I can’t thank him enough for making such great films.

      • llevinso

        Very true tvgirl!

    • J.

      My heart aches to think we only get one more Batman film from Nolan. But he’d know best when it’s time to leave the room. The man has vision.

      • Weresmurf

        Mine too… for when they possibly Schumacher the series… or we get a ‘reboot’… god I hope neither happen. Nolans series is perfect and never needs to be rebooted or touched, it can be logically expanded, even to fit in Superman to a degree eventually if the extreme needed to happen from WB, if they DEMANDED a crossover, but dear lord I hope not.

    • Hannah

      agreed. Dark Knight has been my favorite film since it came out, and then Inception sealed my opinion that Nolan is a fantastic filmmaker.

  • Liv

    Inception was so good. I loved it. It was just visually beautiful to watch.

    • Fransisco

      Mike, these are so cute!!!! Love the baby pumpkin. You’ve got to get on Facebook with Amy and I. It has to be a bteetr way to keep in touch and see what’s going on. Hope everything is well with your family. When is the baby due?

    • IronMan

      Jesus Christ, you are a weird MFer.Any one who lives in Nashville knows you have lost your senses. Tony Dolan knows. Jocelyn knows.

  • jasmine

    Christopher Nolan is a genius. Enough said.

  • graeme

    Rachel Weisz as Catwoman!

    • Henry

      Love it!

    • tracy bluth

      Either her or Emily Blunt would be perfect. I completely trust Nolan’s casting though- he’s only made one mistake (Scarlett Johansson (sp?)) ever.

      • Minutiae

        Well, and Katie Holmes.

      • REASON

        oh enough already

    • Liew

      Absolutely. It has to be Rachel Weisz.

    • sally

      Cat woman and Chris Nolan as director sounds amazing. Rachel is a great actress but not sexy enough for cat woman.

      • k

        totally agree about Rachel not the right cat woman. how about the girl who is in the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo(not the hollywood one)

      • kd

        I think Zoë Saldaña would make a great Cat Woman. Very good young actress.

  • Michael

    ”It would be represent a failure of the film to communicate something.” What does that mean? Or did you only intend to write just “be” or just “represent”? Having two verbs there doesn’t make sense.

    • mary q contrary

      It was clearly a typo. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.

  • nodnarb

    I love his answer about the top. That’s why he’s an amazing filmmaker and storyteller.

    • tracy bluth


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    • Mr. Holloway

      His answer about the top (that the point is that Cobb doesn’t even care to check whether it stopped spinning) is what I’ve been telling people since the day after I saw “Inception.”

      It’s great to see such a super-talented guy also become incredibly successful.

      • Jake

        Mmm, but the fact that he doesn’t even notice the top just points even more strongly to the fact that his sub-consciousness is no longer controlling it! It shows (in my opinion) that without his influence, the top spins endlessly.. and THAT is the point of the last scene. The kids/’emotional significance’ exist only to make this possible.

  • tracy bluth

    I LOVE HIM. Yes it frustrates me that I’ll never be sure what the real endings to Memento and Inception are, but honestly? I love it. I can’t wait until Batman 3 comes out!!! Oh, and I have to thank him for casting Tom Hardy in Batman 3 as well!!!

    • Kel

      Agreed! I’m not big on Batman, But I can see Hardy in Gotham for sure!
      “The real point of the scene …is that Cobb isn’t looking at the top. He’s looking at his kids. He’s left it behind. That’s the emotional significance of the thing.” That’s how I saw it too. Although, don’t think Nolan would’ve taken the “it was all a dream” approach (and thinking that also keeps me sane!).

    • Steph

      What do you mean? I thought the ending to Memento was clear – Leonard had no purpose unless he was hunting his wife’s “killer”, so he left himself a false clue to start a new hunt. Unless…did I miss something?

      • joes

        yeah, i’m pretty sure that’s what happened.

    • tipsy

      OMG, I love him too but I LOVE him as in I`m so in love with him. He`s so smart + looks like Leo DiCaprio. OMG! I want to marry him.

      No, seriously, i`m in love witht his guy. He`s a perfect man.

  • Margie

    (Inception Spoiler Alert) True he’s looking at his children but if the top is still spinning then he is looking at a lie and his real children are fatherless. Therefore the ending is either a tragedy or a movie with a happy ending. I think it is very significant to know if the children he is looking at are real or a lie. I think it is a very fair question for fans to ask him.

    • Minutiae

      It might be fair, but it’s pointless to think he might actually answer it. I thought it was clear from the movie that he ended it that way intentionally. Why would he give a definitive answer now?

    • llevinso

      “Therefore the ending is either a tragedy or a movie with a happy ending.”

      Isn’t that kind of the point? That we don’t know? Why would he answer the question when the whole intention is for it to remain unknown?

    • Morgan

      Even if he is still in a dream, he said goodbye to Mal, and at the very end, he is looking at his children. This represents a major step for Cobb, yes, even if it is only a dream. So he has a breakthrough, dream or not. This is the emotional point of the ending; that Cobb has indeed moved on (or is beginning to move on).

      • llevinso

        Very true, and part of what Nolan was explaining. I don’t see why everything has to be so defined for some people. A little ambiguity can be a good thing.

      • Juneau

        Or it can make you feel like you’ve just wasted 2 hours of your life.

      • MCS

        I think it’s funny that everyone is willing to accept the ambiguity of this film, but not the ambiguity of Lost. Im not one of those ‘broken record’ Lost fanatics, but just saying.

      • Mr. Holloway

        @ MCS

        Personally, I can accept the ambiguity in both.

        However, my two cents: With “Lost”, and TV shows in general, we take things more personally since we welcome them into our home every year, leading us to say things like “this show wasted six years of life!” That may be why “Lost” gets less slack.

    • Sam J

      The top does not matter. It was Mals totem in the first place therefore he can not use it to “define reality”. What was his original totem when just Mal and him were exploring dream worlds? I believe it is his uniquely shaped wedding ring. It is only seen on him in dreams. A second viewing will confirm.

  • Jake

    Inception is definitely a “lady-or-the-tiger” story.

    • Nicole

      Ross! Why did you hold back on specificity when it comes to “these are the rules”/”these are not the rules.” That ascept of the film disturbed me, though I enjoyed it as you did. I know you do not want to spend the entire video criticizing the writing, but that is the kind of sharp review that I tune into Think Hero and you for!

  • Caio

    You could see it was gonna stop spinning. And besides, the movie would not make that much sense if he was dreaming.

    • Ed

      That’s what I have always thought–it seemed to me that the top was wobbling and would have stopped spinning if the movie had not ended right then. Either way, though, I thought it was a good ending, and I can live with the ambiguity.

      • Skip182

        The wobble means nothing. If they don’t put in a wobble, then people will assume it just kept spinning. The wobble is what makes it ambiguous. It does not mean it would have fallen.

    • Yoshiko

      I was just watch B Mack’s running drllis videos in the CFJ and I seem to have missed an important part which I am sure iss covered somewhere else. In the videos he is telling his assistant to get hollow. what does that mean? I have a subscription to the journal if there is another article about that, or if there is a video somewhere else, please let me know. Thank you for your time.

  • Maria

    I think Eva Green as Catwoman…now that would be purrfect!

    • Elle

      I think Natalie Portman would be good. She already played a swan. Let’s see hear tackle a cat role. Plus, she seems agile and fit and like she could physically do it. Also, she’s a master at emoting and be believable and honest in her craft. If it can’t be me, and it really can’t, I hope it’s her.

  • Matt

    Nice article, Doc. Between this (Batman is my favorite comic hero) your Walking Dead coverage and your Fringe coverage, I’m almost not missing Lost anymore. Speaking of which… where’s that last Lost piece? I can’t let go without it!

    • tracy bluth

      I can’t either, but I have a feeling it won’t be posted for another 12 years. That, or we’ll never be able to “let go”.

    • Michael

      I still miss Lost… *sigh*

  • Ugly Jenny

    I kind of love that he won’t give an answer about the spinning top, it leaves is open for interpretation and gets people to discuss the movie and what they think happens.
    I find his enthusiasm for Batman 3 infectious, I don’t think I have been this excited about a film since….The Dark Knight!
    I’m calling it, Nolan is this generation’s Spielberg!

  • Living Dead Boy

    Great, cool, I’m thrilled. But, what about the bigger question that being who the hell are the damn villians going to be!?

  • silvermoonredmoon

    i place Nolan in the same space with great directors like Kurosawa, Ozu, Mizoguchi, Hitchcock, Kubrick, Scorcese and Miyazaki! and Superman is Nolan’s film not snyder!

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