‘Skyfall’ Director Says He Was Inspired By ‘The Dark Knight’

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James Bond Skyfall Dark Knight Influence Skyfall Director Says He Was Inspired By The Dark Knight

James Bond could be in for one heck of a makeover with Skyfall, his twenty-third outing (and no, we’re not referring to his wardrobe). Director Sam Mendes (American BeautyRoad to Perdition) may seem an odd choice for a Bond film, but while his style may be deemed ‘artsy’ by casual moviegoers, he’s taking inspiration from one director known for blending blockbuster action with poignant filmmaking.

The James Bond series has turned actors into household names, yet the ones behind the camera have garnered much less attention. That might make Sam Mendes’ role seem less significant in the long run, but that could be about to change – assuming Mendes can recreate even an ounce of the movies he’s turning to for inspiration.

As promotion of Skyfall has picked up speed, the largest source of enthusiasm and commitment to putting James Bond back on the right tracks has been coming directly from Mendes. Even when discussing the authentic London locations being used for filming, the man at the wheel seems as pleased as a kid in a candy store. But apparently, his thoughts on the project weren’t always so positive.

Mendes explained to ThePlaylist that his spot in the director’s chair came with some trepidation, and while the job may be one that many filmmakers dream of attaining, he wasn’t so optimistic:

“I was never interested and I don’t think I saw most of the Pierce Brosnan films […] I was not into them at the time and then when Daniel got cast I was interested because he was a friend and I had worked with him. And I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting.’ I was on record as saying that I didn’t think he was good casting. Then I saw it and was blown away and was suddenly interested again, as a character, and eager to see the next one. I was slightly disappointed with ‘Quantum of Solace’ although I think it’s got a bit of a short shrift, there’s a lot in it that’s interesting. But when I met with Daniel and he asked whether or not I was interested in doing it, I found myself saying yes very quickly. It was just good timing.”

Mendes’ decision to jump on board was a risky one, since he rightly points out that the reception to Bond’s last adventure was lukewarm at best. But those who felt that the first Skyfall trailer revealing the diabolical Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) seemed more ‘Nolan-esque’ than ‘Bond-ish’ may have been right on the money.

Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Hospital Set Skyfall Director Says He Was Inspired By The Dark Knight

The strength of story, drama and compelling turmoil that director Christopher Nolan brought into the Batman mythos “directly inspired” Mendes in his view of the Bond series. Not just as a sign that tired properties can still have potential, but what can be attempted when studio dollars are on the line.

As Mendes sees it, the precedent has been set for directors like himself to bring more artistic flourishes to mainstream projects. What that means for Skyfall isn’t clear, but does sound promising:

“In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically ‘The Dark Knight,’ the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody…”

“We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle […] it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world. It felt like a movie that was about our world post-9/11, and played on our fears, and discussed our fears and why they existed and I thought that was incredibly brave and interesting. That did help give me the confidence to take this movie in directions that, without ‘The Dark Knight,’ might not have been possible. Because also, people go, ‘Wow, that’s pretty dark,’ but then you can point to ‘Dark Knight’ and go ‘Look at that – that’s a darker movie, and it took in a gazillion dollars!’ That’s very helpful. There’s also that thing – it’s clearly possible to make a dark movie that people want to see.”

Nolan’s accomplishments extend far beyond producing one of the most taut and chilling character dramas the comic book genre has ever seen. The success and praise earned by Inception –  a story Nolan thought up himself – showed that in an age of sequels, reboots and adaptations, an original script can still earn almost a billion dollars at the box office.

skyfall imax trailer Skyfall Director Says He Was Inspired By The Dark Knight

It would be optimistic to think that Skyfall can do the same, but everything shown so far pays testament to Mendes’ wishes of making a “big fabulous escapist movie.” The over-the-top action scenes may set a new standard for Bond’s theatrics, but the film isn’t forgetting its heritage either. The new beginning for Bond may not please every fan, but the fact that it will be forgoing 3D (and the attached profits) when it hits theaters should earn some goodwill.

Is Christopher Nolan’s influence starting to seep into too many other franchises, or should directors take inspiration from wherever they can? Think the tone could work for this ‘darker’ chapter of James Bond’s life, or may only weigh down a plot that should be fun above all else?

Skyfall will be in theaters and IMAX on November 9, 2012.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.

Source: The Playlist

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  1. Way to go I have been a Bond fan since I was a child. If anyone could drive a stake through it with one comment he just did.

    As for Nolan “seeping” no. I think every pud that is attmepting to do something feels they need to compare him/herself or work with Nolans.

    Please if some unbiased person could watch Skyfall and Nolans Batman 2 and tell me how they relate I would appreciate it. I admit I wont be able to.

    If not the guy is a chump and is just jumping on a band wagon like so many others have. Apparently it is still the in thing to do.

    • I believe the constant comparisons to Nolan and The Dark Knight are perfectly warranted although I do agree that they do become irritating from a readers perspective when every damn critic uses it has a crutch lol. But with that being said The Dark Knight and Inception were huge game changers in terms of Nolan’s ability to give talented filmmakers the creative license alter the tone of existing franchises. But at the end of the day at this moment this generation of cinema has only one director who his a visionary storyteller despite the genre that the studio can rely on bringing in an enormous profit and his name is Nolan. Hopefully Skyfall adds a second director to that pantheon

    • It won’t let me link the review but there is one that states many similarities between skyfall and the dark knight. search on Google and you could find it.

      • Thanks for the link. In briefly reading it I just dont see it. I see them mentioning Nolan but I dont see where they actually compare it.

        What they took a James Bond movie and made it realistic? That has been done before.

        What is the blockbuster template that Nolan created and now Bond is copying?

        The series (Bond) did a serious edge on several occasions, even with Moore.

        ” But it’s also true that many of the qualities that Nolan brought to the “Batman” series are present and correct in “Skyfall,” both in the good and the bad.”

        As someone stated here already… Nolans Batman is more a Bond movie then Bond a Nolans Batman movie.

        @Robert I concur to a degree. I enjoy Nolans movies. However as armored as they are they have chinks in them. Im happy to see him try new things and original ideas.

        Trey I hope you are referring to a different one opposed to the one Ignur linked. I will try to look for it at home later today.

        • Mine was different. it stated how the action was much smaller and a lot less of it. along with really deep characters and a deep story. and bardem is very joker esc like a twisted comedic villain

        • @Aknit

          I dind’t read the review. I like to wait till after the movie, so i dont have any preconcieved notions or bias. I usually inly watch one trailer for a movie. Spoilers terrify me. lol.

        • comparing skyfall to the dark knight series means this bond film is more dark and it will focus more on the character development. also, this movie would be a story not just pure action action scenes

    • Inception was brought about through the success of TDK lets not forget that. Thankfully so because I truly adore Inception.
      TDK lets not kid ourselves here there were many factors as to why it gained such success. I won’t address what those are but you can take a guess.
      It is a good film no question.
      Mendes’ “inspiration” from TDK is only that you can take a big tentpole film and add current issues to it. Imagine if Bay even attempted something like that TransFormers? Perhaps did he? Underneath all the visual flare is there commentary about how America (Autobots) handle a threat?

      • @SK47 I agree that The Dark Knight is very good. I’d say phenomenal, but I think you’d disagree. In any case, I’d glad Nolan’s work is having a positive effect on other filmmakers and showing whats possible. To me, that makes The Dark Knight even more important as a piece of contemporary cinema. Thank you Mr. Nolan.

    • I think, based on what the Mendes said, he means that it is possible to have a big movie that’s about something. It’s not that he tried to make a Batman movie, just that he realized he could actually put himself into making a Bond movie that’s more than just a popcorn flick.

  2. “‘Sykfall’ Director Says He Was Inspired By ‘The Dark Knight’”

    I knew it! Just by the trailer alone, you can tell.

    • Yup… “Sykfall” and not “Skyfall”.
      I thought noone would notice that ^^v

      • Is NO ONE excited for “Sykfall” around here?

        That’s the one where Bond pretends to fall, then he’s all like “Syk!”

        …seriously though, we’ve corrected the typo.

        • Hah, nice one.

  3. Well, we are all inspired by The Dark Knight now. It had such a huge impact that either you want to use TDK as an example to follow or not to follow.

  4. I tihnk it’s an honor that many directors look to The Dark Knight as inspiration. Who would have imagined that a comic book movie or a movie based on a comic book character could have such an impact beyond the realm of comics.

  5. Isn’t a Bond film on Nolan’s bucket list? That could be very promising.

    • Indeed. Hoping it happens.

      • He wants fassbender from what I heard.

  6. Well, if you look at it this way, The Dark Knight was a film with an exceptionally crafted unique and memorable villain.

    Exactly what every Bond film demands, no?

    • I also find it interesting to note that Nolan was hugely influenced by Bond, as are his films, and now have in turn influenced Bond.

      So really, you could just say that Bond has re-influenced itself – through Nolan.

      • i always found nolans batman a mix between bond and his Howard Hughes film. mainly rises with the broken down Bruce.

        • Indeed, even much of Nolan’s shooting style is reminiscent of earlier Bond era films, although is more a symptom of his old school stance toward filming in general i.e. No in-camera zooming, nice clean lines, one camera set-ups only, no-stand ins, no-digital, special over visual fx, list goes on.

          • ‘one camera set-ups only for dialogue’, that should have been.

          • His old school stance and use of practical stunts are why I enjoy his movies so much.

            • Watch heat if you havnt seen it, its filmed very similar to the dark knight cause it was nolans influence

              • I love Heat. I was giddy watching all the Heat references the first time around. Even the interrogation had the Pacino/DeNiro stare down. Both of which are two of my favorite scenes. DeNiro was so cold. Loved it.

              • very true

  7. He’s way better than Nolan though.

    • agreed. lol.

      • Never seen a Sam Mendez movie.

        • I was referring to James Bond.

    • That’s great. Lots of people are. Both great filmmakers in my view.

  8. Most reviews I’ve been reading (as well as the trailer after a few viewings) seem to make it clear that Skyfall is going to be a lot like TDK.

    I look forward to seeing Skyfall, not only because it’s a Bond film, but also because it would be awesome to see Nolan helm a Bond film… and if Skyfall is going to be a like TDK, I think that’ll be our preview of what we can expect from a Nolan-Bond film.

    But at the same time I hope that Skyfall won’t be “TDK with Bond instead of Batman” – the movie still has to feel original, and feel like I’m watching 007.

    Can’t wait to see it with my own eyes!!

  9. I also thought their was a touch of ‘Batman Begins’ about the new Q from the trailer, an element which I thought after Casino Royale would have been capitalized on in Quantum of Solace so I’m glad to see it developing now.

    Mendes and the general Production approach to this film has actually managed to get me fairly excited about seeing it, more so than any Bond in a long time. This article has little bearing on my opinion either way.

  10. It’s actually less suprisingl if you remeber that Martin Campbell was inspired by Batman Begins when filming/writing Casino Royale. And we all remember how awesome that turned out.

    • that´s a very good point, like you said -c.r.- was always mentioned as a james bond begins movie that was inspired from the dark tone of -batman begins-

  11. Come on, haters! I know you are here. Amuse me!

  12. himself is a good director and it´s not false to take inspiration from another directors movie or his art of filming.

  13. I’m just glad he didn’t use the phrase “dark and gritty” to describe the new Bond film.

    Generally I don’t really care for Bond movies (especially since Craig was casted), but now I’m thinking I might be interested in this one.

    • I think “dark and gritty” are now words used primarily by the producers or studio executives.

  14. I’ve never been a bond fan, I’ve seen all the movies and enjoyed them for the most part. but I’m hoping Mendez blows me away and he seems to be taking a different approach which draws me to it. this has slowly become an extremely anticipated film for me.

  15. People always call it darker, I call it making it more realistic. Nolan films are really all about taking these outlandish idea(s) and taking them very seriously.

    These characters (good guys & bad guys) are fighting for survival, and there’s a s*** load of death all around them. Its extraordinarily “dark” if you think about it, and now writers/directors are finally catching on that we want to see these characters in a more realistic, based more in reality way.

  16. All this time, and every little piece of news about this film has just made me more and more excited. And now, at the last minute, the director has to smear it with a Nolan comparison. Now when I try to watch the preview, I just hear that stupid “Inception” noise. Thanks for knocking my expectations down a whole bunch of notches.

  17. If that’s the case, why wasn’t this movie titled “Dark Knight: James Bond”?
    All these guys talking about how they’re inspired or influenced by Nolan’s Dark Knight sound like they walked right out of a boardroom with studio executives.
    It seems that almost everyone making an action flick or even TV show is taught to reference the Dark Knight.
    Even if they don’t say it, the influence is obvious.
    Make it “dark and gritty” or “dark and edgy,” the executives say.
    If it fits, fine, but quite often it doesn’t fit or simply comes off as derivative.
    The new “Arrow” (without the Green) show, while entertaining, starts off as a blatant rip-off of “Batman Begins.”
    Don’t even get me going on the new and increasingly ridiculous-looking RoboCop movie and costume.

  18. It’s just a shame Nolan dropped the ball with “Rises” It could of been another masterpiece with a bit more thought, it was a mess, Catwomen kills Bane, say no more! Batman Begins is actually a better all round film than TDK, But the most underrated movie from Nolan IMO is “The Prestige”

    • Agreed about the prestige I love the batman trilogy and inception, but I think he has failed to get a tight narrative such as memento into his bigger budget movies. still my favorite director and rises is still my fav film this year.

      • Prestige is my favourite, bar TDK. It’s a beautifully crafted film, imo.

  19. As for the nolan touch there are 3 points:
    -darker visual, the world looks harsh and bleak.
    – character development : the hero fails dramatically , the hero pays for it , and even worse the hero keeps paying for it in the sequels. He has regrets, he broods. This new james bond has an awful record when it comes to protect people. James bond who hesitates between the mission and an agent at the VERY BEGINNING of the movie ? clearly he has done some thinking.
    – world development: characters that are given some depth and great talent to play this, it’s not a one man show around the hero anymore. There are relations,subplot and characterization. Moneypenney, the two M have now an origin and a relation that goes beyond banter. Look at who they brought into the franchise. Bardem, Fiennes ? James bond used to be afraid of big names. As far as I’m concerned Ralph fiennes as M is the same as Michael Caine for Alfred. Now Bond didn’t go as far as Batman with less “names” and a plot still heavily centered on bond (dark knight rises is barely about batman) but the influence is clear. it’s normal considering that Mendes is less a vision guy I think and also he has to deal with a half a century old franchise so he has less room than Nolan.

  20. I really, really, really, REALLY think EVERYBODY needs to stop comparing everything to Christopher Nolan. Sure, he’s a rather good director…but he isn’t the only director on Earth! And he certainly isn’t the best director on Earth. His Batman films are OKAY: they’re nothing amazing. Batman Begins is far superior to the Dark Knight. I don’t understand the hype, and I never truly did. Skyfall is far superior to all three of the Batman films in my opinion. Just stop pushing Nolan’s name everywhere! I hate it.

    • Joshua, shut up.

      It’s amusing to see all the Nolan haters complain. “Dark knight is overrated”, “Nolan’s not that great”.

      Dark Knight is easily one of the best films of the decade (listed as THE BEST OF THE 2000s) on imdb. That film is flawless yet grand, ambitious yet intimate, comic fantasy yet completely logical, batman film yet multi-layered social commentary.

      The only excuse people make against it is that its long…. lol really??

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