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How Would You Rank The Christopher Nolan Films?

nolan

This past week, there’s been the usual discussion between Nolan nerds over how his latest film, Dunkirk, fits in with the rest of his work. I normally stay out of these ranking conversations because my rule of thumb with Nolan is that his movies take time to process and analyze, for better or worse. Sometimes, his movies seem better on the second watch or months later. Sometimes, they’re worse. I doubt Dunkirk will be any different, either way.

Go on…How Would You Rank The Christopher Nolan Films?

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Unopinionated: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Is Better Than What You May Remember

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

Every week, readers send me their unpopular opinions, and on Unopinionated, I explain why they’re unpopular in the first place.

From my inbox: “Sad to see you hating Batman v Superman, when The Dark Knight Rises has to be one of the worst Batman films of all time. That’s not an unpopular opinion, it’s just fact.” – Cheyenne

It’s interesting how quickly some have turned on The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR), a powerfully ambitious film that is quite easy to unpack for various flaws and plot holes that we’ve all come to expect from Christopher Nolan’s brand of filmmaking.

Not that this is an excuse. TDKR is absolutely a flawed movie. Part of that might have to do with how it is justifiably compared to its predecessor, The Dark Knight, which has cemented itself as a lasting future classic within the pantheon of superhero movies (despite the fact that it is far removed from what constitutes a typical superhero film).

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

Expectations were always going to be lopsided with TDKR, so it was surprising to see mostly positive reviews surface as the movie was released. As the years have gone on, however, there’s been a quiet movement to shift the consensus of that film to something much less grandiose than the two Batman films it wrapped up.

And I’m among the fans of this movie who wished for a more cohesive film, structurally. TDKR has not one, but two “rebirth” narratives it forces its Bruce Wayne to endure. Multiple time skips, an overabundance of key players, and some familiar beats from TDR are just a few complaints that weaken the overall product of this film, but they don’t even come close to undercutting how potent this conclusion truly was.

You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything. – Selina Kyle

What the film does spectacularly is stay on target with what Batman Begins set out to do in the first place (and what TDK carried on so superbly). That is, these movies have always been about holding a mirror up to the deepest fears we have about the post-9/11 millennium — the deconstruction of American capitalism through outside forces, terrorist attacks based in nihilism, and highly invasive government tactics — only to show us how ludicrous it is for us to think that one man can save us all.

Of course, we root for him anyway.

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

TDK played with this direct parallel by pitting the “clean” politician, Harvey Dent, against the vigilante secretly known as Bruce Wayne in a love triangle, of all constructs. By TDKR, audiences are convinced that no one man can save Gotham, but perhaps everyone can unite in righteous fear against a force they don’t understand. This, of course, speaks more relevantly to current events of 2016 even more than 2012, when Barack Obama was poised to win his re-election and the Occupy movement was in full swing.

TDKR makes it clear that violence always has a purpose, whether it’s for the sake of violence as illustrated in TDK, or to be a forced resurrection through the events of Batman Begins. There’s a reason Nolan chose to end this trilogy on the shoulders of the League of Assassins, whose seemingly anarchistic goals are based in some eerily sound logic carried over from the first film.

The film actually begins during a time of peace, eight years after the events of TDK. This peace, of course, is based on the lie that Harvey Dent (and his morals) survived his own death. The white knight was chosen over the dark knight, except the dark knight is the one who made this choice possible.

Speak of the devil and he shall appear. – Bane

Forced into exile, Bruce Wayne has spent this time letting others run the city, and even his company, believing once and for all that the city no longer needs a “Batman.” Meanwhile, a new threat named Bane has set a plan into motion that couldn’t be more ambitious: an actual takeover of Gotham City, effectively making it the hostage of a rogue network of fascist mercenaries.

dark knight rises unpopular opinion

Three new faces enter Wayne’s life as this plan takes off, and they couldn’t be more dissimilar. A young cop named John Blake represents the faith Wayne once had in the Batman role. Miranda Tate, a board member of Wayne Enterprises, helps Wayne enact a new plan to create sustainable and clean energy for Gotham. And the wildcard is Selina Kyle, a thief who shifts between wanting to save the world or giving up to profit off of the chaos.

A good part of the film is used exploring what these new characters mean to Bruce Wayne as he embarks on a war against Bane, but also against his own uncertainty and entanglement with the darkness that he hasn’t been able to shake since the Joker came around.

I don’t know why you took the fall for Dent’s murder, but I’m still a believer in the Batman. – John Blake

But it’s truly the more established cast that helps make the spectacle of TDKR worth caring about. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman all return to reprise their roles as a shade of Bruce Wayne’s standalone mentor. And Christian Bale himself delivers a more compelling, pain-stricken Wayne than even the TDK, but mostly because that movie did the work to set him up.

Dark Knight Rises unpopular opinion

And that’s the biggest advantage TDKR has, and it’s what helps it overcome its various shortcomings. The film is improved by what came before it, and it also improves them, as well. While franchise blockbusters like The Avengers are to be commended for their commitment to world-building, TDKR is to be celebrated for how complete its story is across its three offerings.

Nolan does a splendid job balancing energetic set pieces (the opening hijack scene is a highlight) with what would descend into mindless fantasy, otherwise. And they save TDKR from being devoid of any fun or awe considering how lacking this film actually is of Batman himself.

A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended. – Batman

But when viewed as a continuation, not a standalone film, these flaws suddenly become less entrenched with the film itself. From start to finish, TDKR works more as an honorable resolution, rather than a climactic high achieved by TDK. Perhaps we wanted something more groundbreaking, or even faithful to the comics that founded this character and how his story ends in our own imaginations. Our expectations aside, TDKR still delivers something that makes sense within itself.

Grade: B+


Do you have an unpopular opinion you want challenged? Let me know in the comments and I’ll take it on in a future Unopinionated article. Or you can email nowconspiring@gmail.com

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Bad News: Fan Theories are Destroying Movie Discussion

fan theories

Sorry, everyone. It turns out we have to ditch enjoying our entertainment a certain way because the managing editor of Movie Mezzanine thinks they are, and this is a direct quote, “truly toxic.”

Alright. Let’s do this.

In his latest editorial, titled “Why Fan Theories are Destroying Film Discourse,” film critic Josh Spiegel deconstructs the modern fan theory, directly calling me out on two theories I’ve written on this very site. For that reason, I think it would be rude not to respond, right?

He starts the essay with a few examples to set up his case.

Did you know that, in The Dark Knight, the hero was actually the Joker? It’s true—if you buy into this recent theory posited by a user on Reddit.

Interesting that he doesn’t link to the post itself, just an article on SlashFilm reporting on it. I mean, that’s not egregiously terrible or anything…but why not just link to the original post? Wouldn’t it be fairer for readers to evaluate the original version instead of a shortened one that leaves out his full explanation?

Also, I don’t get his logic with this sentence: “It’s true—if you buy into this.”

Well, no, something isn’t “true” just because you believe it. I suppose, then, it is true to you, but if Josh is subtly implying that truth is relative, then doesn’t that make this entire article pointless?

And did you know that Andy’s mom in Toy Story is also the grown version of the girl named Emily in Toy Story 2 who owned, and then discarded, Jessie the cowgirl?

YES! Wait, is this a trap?

No fooling, according to a post by the same guy who has a far broader theory that every Pixar movie—yes, even the Cars movies—are connected to each other.

Well, no, that’s not true. If he had read the actual post he’s linking to, he would have noticed that I didn’t, in fact, come up with the original theory for Andy’s mom being Emily. It was presented to me, and I made the case for it with my own research.

fan theories
So long, logic.

And in the most mind-blowing one of all, it’s even been suggested that the snarky kid at the beginning of Jurassic Park who Alan Grant threatens with a raptor claw grew up to be none other than Chris Pratt’s hero character in Jurassic World.

Again, Spiegel links to the article reporting what someone posted on Reddit, instead of just the original posting. Does Spiegel hate Reddit or something?

Also, I actually like this theory about Jurassic World. It’s interesting. It’s a fun connection. It makes enough sense, and it doesn’t contradict anything presented in the respective movies. So, what’s the problem?

There are an embarrassingly large number of fan theories floating around the Internet, and the emphasis here should be on the word “embarrassingly.”

It’s embarrassing to have a large number of discussions about movies? I thought fan theories were destroying film discourse, not strengthening it? Oh, Josh, let’s just cut to the chase, friend. 

What these ideas amount to are fan fiction, not fan theories.

Wait, but what are “these ideas” you refer to? I didn’t leave a sentence out. You’re saying that fan theories are fan fiction, but they’re not fan theories. What?

fan theories
And even *terrible* fan fiction gets to be a book!

Also, fan fiction isn’t as broad a term as you’re alluding. Unless someone is actually writing a fiction, it’s not fan fiction. And even if it is, some fan fiction can be pretty good (don’t see above), and a lot of people read and love it. In a way, the celebrated Star Wars novels are a form of fan fiction cleverly called “expanded universe.” Why is that acceptable, but an interpretation of a movie you just saw isn’t?

I have a feeling he’s not going to answer the question and instead bring something else up.

Few, if any, of these theories ever get a direct response;

They’re not supposed to get a direct response. That’s not the point. Fan theories, in a broad sense, are an experiment by moviegoers to let themselves interpret movies they love in new and different ways. They don’t have to be “true.” 

That’s like saying your interpretation of 2001A Space Odyssey isn’t worth your time because Kubrick hasn’t directly responded to it from the grave.

fan theories
OR HAS HE?

..the closest in recent memory is Pixar director Lee Unkrich playfully retweeting a comment or two from followers of his who treat the so-called Pixar Theory as utter silliness.

Well first of all, it’s not “so-called.” It’s just called.

Also, why not just link to the Tweet itself?? Again, Spiegel links to the blog post about the Tweet. I’m feeling an Inception fan theory coming on here…is…is Josh Spiegel Dom Cobb? Makes sense.

Oh, and you’re linking to the wrong Pixar Theory. That’s the website inspired by it, not the original post. I’m guessing Spiegel doesn’t care.

[UPDATE: Movie Mezzanine graciously fixed this error and sent the link to the correct spot. Credit where credit is due.]

But fan theories are becoming as prevalent to modern film culture as stories about casting rumors or reviews, and they are becoming truly toxic.

Toxic, eh? That’s strong language. I mean it implies that fan theories themselves are harmful. Probably to film discourse! Let’s read why. 

It’s easy to imagine the counterargument from those in favor of fan theories: What’s the harm?

Right. That’s a big one. 

The Dark Knight doesn’t become better or worse because of a Reddit user’s theory about the Joker, as silly as that theory might sound.

Nods.

The Toy Story films are still marvelous whether or not Andy’s mom is Jessie’s old owner.

True that. 

Jurassic World is still a resounding disappointment,

Wait, what? A resounding disappointment? That’s heavy hyperbole, especially considering the adjective is implying that we’re still feeling it as a disappointment months later. 

Never mind that Jurassic World is one of the top-grossing films of all time, or that it managed to score good reviews when most people were expecting another terrible Jurassic Park sequel. 

fan theories
Never forget.

I get why you may not have liked it, Spiegel, but that doesn’t make it an ongoing disappointment to everyone else.

The problem is that these theories, online, become as inextricable to a vast amount of readers as the actual movies themselves.

He just asserts this. No evidence. No examples. Not even a bloody anecdote. Spiegel, in all his wisdom, just declares that fan theories are confusing people because there’s a lot of them. Does he not think we’re smart enough to read fan theories? And then he says the movies should be confusing us. What? What’s confusing? 

This argument makes no sense to me because it implies that people care more about fan theories than the movie themselves, but liking the movie is the actual prerequisite to even wanting to read a fan theory.

So what’s the problem? People aren’t overthinking movies the right way? Is that where this is going?

Worse still, these fan theories are quickly replacing actual critical analysis,

Last I checked, people still critique movies. Like a lot of them. All the time. Do you have, maybe, any evidence that there are fewer articles that analyze movies the way you want them to be analyzed?

covered by a large amount of entertainment websites in part because the content beast must be fed,

Exactly! Like how celebrity gossip ruined film discourse because the magazine content beast had to be fed. Should we hate that, too?

and in part because it takes the work out of the hands of the sites’ writers and into the hands of random commenters who have too much time on their hands.

Look, I’m all for giving writers more work to do. Like sourcing the actual comments instead of just linking to the blog post about them. (But I guess he’s doing that to strengthen his point.) 

And we don’t totally disagree on this. Some fan theories are pretty bad, and it’s annoying when a website will feature them just to get clicks. So why are you attacking all fan theories? Some of them are fantastic, and yes, worth talking about.

fan theories
Like “the stormtroopers missed all the time because Vader ordered them not to kill his son. Oh, and he knew Luke was his son the whole time.”

They’re not from “random commenters” as you so condescendingly refer to them as. They’re human beings who love movies just as much as you and I do.

I don’t care what you think about them, Spiegel. Loving movies is the only qualifier you need to join the discussion, EVEN if you have free time (gasp).

So what’s the difference between a fan theory and a deep-dive exploration into one aspect of a film?

Hmmm…How many flattering adjectives you’re willing to assign to them? 

The former is the product of a person choosing to fantasize about what they would do if they had made the film they’re watching,

No, that’s not it at all. Last I checked, not everyone wants to be a director. Maybe I’ll check again. Checks. Nope. 

and the latter is the product of a person paying attention to the movie they’re watching and responding in kind.

Wow. Just…wow. Spiegel isn’t using words like “some” or “generally.” He’s definitively saying that people who write fan theories aren’t paying attention to the movie. 

Because it’s not like I write both fan theories and elaborate critiques about how The Incredibles demonstrates the subtle benefits of inequality, how Inception brilliantly built its story around filmmaking, or how the humans of WALL-E represent the best in society contrasted with their horrible surroundings you’re only perceiving as “bad” because of clever story tricks. 

I couldn’t have written any of those things because I wasn’t “paying attention.” I was too busy also writing fan theories, and those are bad.

Often, the fan theories that send the Internet—specifically its social-media avenues—into a tizzy rely heavily on the fact that they aren’t based directly on what’s present in the text.

True. Most of these theories end up being rubbish, or not completely thought through. 

Take, for example, the notion that Owen Grady in Jurassic World is the kid in the opening of Jurassic Park. That certainly sounds cool, and would be a nice, if random, tie-in to the 1993 film. But what’s the evidence backing this theory? Well, see, the kid in Jurassic Park is only credited as “Volunteer Boy.” So his name could be Owen! Also, Chris Pratt is only a year older than the actor who played Volunteer Boy, so the timeline could fit! Also…um…hey, look, something shiny!

Seriously, Josh? Why so mean-spirited in that last line? We get it. You think fan theories are childish. You don’t have to be a tool about it.

fan theories
Take a long, Lohan, look at yourself.

Also, the evidence for this Jurassic World theory comes from the fact that you can reasonably see the people who made the film creating a character who embodies this moment from the first film. It actually informs the story as a whole.

That said, and I can’t stress this enough, this theory doesn’t have to be true. But it is a fun thought experiment that you can speculate about because it does happen to fit with the source material so nicely.

The majority of the work to make this theory seem remotely logical is done behind the scenes, as someone imagines what could have happened to this kid after Alan Grant scratched at his stomach with a raptor claw.

Yeah, who needs imagination? Certainly not people who watch what is essentially an illusion on a big screen.

See, much of what we take from a movie has to come from thinking external of what’s being presented. This is because the audience makes an emotional connection with what’s happening, but not every director can spoon feed you the context. That would alienate the audience.

We have to fill in those blanks ourselves most of the time, which leads to…you guessed it…film discourse.

This same vagueness plagues the majority of fan theories. Yes, it’s not impossible that, in the Toy Story films, Andy’s mom could have a deeper connection to one of his toys than he or even she realizes. So many existing fan theories rely on the first four words of the previous sentence: “Yes, it’s not impossible.” The lack of impossibility, however, doesn’t automatically prove a theory correct; it merely suggests that it’s not impossible for something to be true.

Again, these theories don’t have to be true. That’s not why most people come up with them. It’s about interpreting small clues in new ways that get you to think about the film. When someone reads this theory for the first time, they’re often pushed into rewatching the movie, and (guess what!) paying attention to it. 

Fan theories are no substitute for critical analysis, yet they have quickly become inseparable for so many readers online.

This is Josh’s main argument, and I get why he’s so concerned. Because it’s true that fan theories are not a substitute. But that’s a complete misunderstanding of their role. They’re not meant to be a substitute, either. They never were. 

Instead, fan theories in their nature are meant to be a form of interpretation through imagination and passion for the subject material. They’re meant to answer questions that don’t have to be answered, but create conversations between the people who answer these questions in different ways.

fan theories
Sometimes, fan theories are answered by the voice actors themselves.

Analogy time!

Fan theories are like movies. There are good movies, and there are bad movies. That doesn’t mean we should get rid of all movies because some are bad. And bad movies certainly don’t replace other art forms that approach entertainment in a different way. I can read a fan theory and a deep analysis by A.A. Dowd. And I can enjoy both of them.

On the other, fan theories pose as critical analysis in spite of featuring neither criticism—often, these are posed by people who would proudly consider themselves fanboys or fangirls, never pausing to think about the built-in imperfections of even their favorite films—nor analysis.

Translation: Josh thinks you like movies too much. Go figure. 

Right, because in his world, people who overthink movies don’t criticize them. That is an actual opinion held by a film critic.

Popular films like Jurassic World or The Dark Knight or Toy Story beg to be debated for their themes.

And nothing else! Only themes! 

Hey, wouldn’t that mean that critical analysis of themes is destroying film discourse? What if someone wants to debate the characters in the movie, or how some of the movies share nods to each other?

Nope! To save film discourse, we must prevent it from happening the way we want it to. Shrug!

As ubiquitous as they may be, the discourse surrounding these films frequently sidesteps a conversation on nostalgia, on childhood heroes, on the possible emptiness of vast spectacle.

This sentence exists in a world where The Nostalgia Critic is one of the most widely viewed critics in new media. 

fan theories
OK, maybe some people talk about Nostalgia Critic more than nostalgia itself.

Fan theories now drive the discourse on these films, and to everyone’s detriment.

No, they just exist. That’s all they do. Yes, some are more popular than others, but how is that in any way proof that they’re replacing anything? 

I browse the Top and Trending URLs almost every single day. You know which articles about movies I see the most being shared? Not fan theories. Those make up a small percentage, because the reality is that a good fan theory is hard to discover, while pointing out what you think about a movie is pretty easy, and a lot of people are pretty interested in critical analysis.

You know what the top trending links were for the day I wrote this (September 2, 2015)? The top link was an image of Bryan Cranston as LBJ in the upcoming movie, All the Way.

fan theories
Yes, this is actually happening.

The second most shared link about movies (including via social media) was a longform piece by Italo Calvino about movies that influenced his youth, adapted from a published autobiography.

There was another piece about actors who’ve built successful careers after The Twilight Zone.

Even Gawker published something interesting about how Bruce Willis was unaware that China has a huge film market even though he’s in a movie made in China. OK, I thought it was interesting.

So that’s everything movie-related from the top 100 links. Yet I don’t see a single “fan theory” shoving its way past articles that are, in Spiegel’s eyes, more deserving.

fan theories

For some odd reason, Spiegel feels threatened because a good article he probably wrote isn’t as famous as a theory about the Joker from The Dark Knight. And I guess I sympathize. That sounds weird, and I’ve been there.

Does that mean fan theories are inherently bad, though? Absolutely not. You could only argue that they’re toxic if you actually have an argument that points out how they prevent people from deep analysis.

But instead of doing that, Spiegel has chosen to create a false dichotomy between analysis and analysis fueled by imagination. By doing this, he tries to makes you feel dumb for liking fan theories instead of something he likes.

That’s not an argument. That’s a childish guilt trip.

On their own, fan theories are, indeed, harmless; if they existed next to critical discussions, and did so in lesser standing, they would be a fun distraction.

“Fan theories wouldn’t be so bad if people liked my articles better.” 

But the more fan theories are treated as serious, thoughtful salvos in a debate, the more ridiculous they appear to become.

To you. 

Here’s a new fan theory to ponder: making these things die a quick death will improve the world of film immeasurably. What more proof do you need?

All of the proof you failed to deliver thousands of words ago. 

And I’m puzzled by the raising of the stakes toward the end. Now we have to make fan theories die a quick death? What’s going on, Josh? Did a fan theory steal your girlfriend or something?

Seriously, he went from talking about how fan theories are harmless to calling for their immediate death. This sounds a lot like a dictatorship to me, rather than letting people who love movies make up their minds on how they want to approach the entertainment they like.

In other words, not everyone thinks like a film critic. And that’s OK.

fan theories
You. Are going. To do great, today.

This entire article is a classic case of subjectivity rearing its opinionated head. The truth of it is that Josh Spiegel is an intelligent film critic. I actually like his work a lot and enjoyed his review of Inside Out, among others. We don’t always agree, of course, but he’s good at adding great points to any given discussion.

But this idea that fan theories are making everything worse is a true moment of FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

The quick of it is that Josh doesn’t like fan theories. So he doesn’t like that you like fan theories. Then he accuses you of not liking the type of analysis that he likes (even though you probably do). Then he calls for the death of said thing that you love.

No thanks.

[UPDATE] The original author of the “Joker” theory (who goes by the username, generalzee) responded to Spiegel’s post via the comments, and I thought it would be good to share it here as well. Source.

As the person who wrote the Joker Fan Theory in question, I can’t believe how wrong and insecure this article sounds.

First of all, I never intended for my fan theory to be a critical analysis of The Dark Knight. Nowhere in my theory do I talk about the framing of shots (which I could have), or the acting (which could have been a major point in such a theory), or even the uber-dark mise-en-scene, which may have fully supported my theory, and highlighted how, thematically, all three main characters were living in the dark. Instead, I made an arguably compelling argument that the film could be interpreted another way.

What I find worse than that, though, is the fact that you claim that I ignored facts that are DIRECTLY MENTIONED in my theory. I explained both the boats and Dent’s scarring (Both physical and emotional) directly in the original piece. Of course, I wouldn’t expect a modern blogger to actually check his sources, and I’m sure you just read the Mashable version at some point, but it annoys me that you would make such an attack on fan theories WITHOUT EVEN READING THE ONE YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.

So please let me be clear that this response IS intended to be a critical discourse on your work. What I see is a self-proclaimed critic who is horrified by his perceived loss of power to a basically unrelated group of people investigating films in a way that he, himself, has arbitrarily deemed below himself. This is reflected in his weak, but clear call to action to end Fan Theories as if they are going to harm legitimate film criticism. The panic he feels reflects strongly in his hastily researched (Really, how long did it take you to read the titles of the top 5 Fan Theories on Reddit?), and poorly thought-out criticism of a culture that he would attempt to appropriate into his own, only to discard it immediately.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

Inside the Incredible Mind of Christopher Nolan.

christopher nolan

Gideon Lewis-Kraus | The Exacting, Expansive Mind of Christopher Nolan:

Nolan’s movies are often about people doing their best to get back in touch with consensus reality — against our tendency to be swept away by delusion (“Inception”) or demagogy (“The Dark Knight Rises”) — so it feels organic, rather than gimmicky, that they would periodically gesture toward their own stagy conceits. 

“Interstellar” regrets the diminished ambitions of the space age, but it also regrets the diminished ambitions of the same age in cinema — the art form that, for the moment at least, reaches the most disparate people in the most far-flung places. “Interstellar” is about the recovery, in the greatest mass medium, of hope and drive and intelligence, about the very promise of a robust, elevating middlebrow. Perhaps all Nolan does, as one of his critics has put it, is “invest grandeur and novelty into conventional themes.” But at interstellar scale, that’s good enough.

This is quite easily the best, most complete analysis I’ve ever read about Christopher Nolan, who is rapidly becoming the next generation’s Spielberg. I highly suggest you give it a read, especially with Nolan’s Interstellar only being a week away (of which I’ve heard remarkably good things).

One highlight from Gideon’s piece is that Nolan’s last three movies have a place in the top 100 movies of all time (in box office sales). And eight of his fourteen films have accrued over $3 billion. And that’s without making movies about transforming robots.

The ‘Zorro’ Reboot Will Probably Make Us Sad

Zorro, our favorite California crime-fighter from the 1800s is coming back in a big way (for the people!) Let’s talk about it.

The Mask of Zorro has always been my favorite adventure movie, even ahead of A Knight’s Tale. Speaking of Heath Ledger, this new reboot—that is actually happening—is planned to emulate a certain franchise the late (and great) Heath Ledger himself elevated: The Dark Knight.

That’s right, the new Zorro is planned to be leaner, grittier and emotional—er. I’m not really sure why.

Because amidst of all of the quasi-realistic adaptations of famous costumed crime-fighters, few have actually been well-received. Yes, Man of Steel was a hit financially, but the cultural significance of the Marvel movies proved to us that you don’t need gritty storytelling to tell a good story.

What worries me is that we’re losing the campy fun and swashbuckling adventure that made me (and many of you) fall in love with Zorro when we were kids. After watching Banderas don the mask twice, I became entranced with the old Zorro movies because it was a proper homage, but what will a “serious” reboot pay tribute to for the next generation?

But we don’t have to be overly negative. There are two primary possibilities: this will either be akin to Batman Begins or Man of Steel.

In other words, it’s either going to be good or just decent.

In the case of Batman Begins, the writers found a great way to shift the dramatic narrative associated with Batman, who is frequently portrayed as a serious character in a goofy world. To put it another way, we got the Batman we deserved.

Then they tried the same thing with Superman, which followed the same basic formula. It was liberal with the story arc, had beards and tried to be as intense as possible, but it didn’t work quite as well. We left theaters feeling underwhelmed, and I’m honestly not sure why.

And that’s my honest fear about what they’re planning to do for Zorro, a character I actually cherish above Superman and Batman (don’t yell at me).

Of course, this won’t be the only iteration of Zorro vying for our attention. You may have also heard about another movie coming out called Zorro Reborn, a sci-fi remix of the original character that plants the Fox in a post-apocalyptic world. I know, but let’s just give it a chance.

What do you think? To reboot or not to reboot? Let me know with a passive aggressive Tweet or comment.

Thanks for Reading! You can subscribe to this blog by email via the prompt on the sidebar. Otherwise, be sure to stay connected with me on Twitter (@JonNegroni). I’ll follow you back if you say something witty and awesome.

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