Over the last few years, Christopher Nolan has rapidly established himself as one of Hollywood’s finest directors, despite his comparatively young age (42) in relation to many of his counterparts.
His career began in 1998 when his first feature, Following, generated a significant amount of buzz on the festival circuit, prompting the funding of his next film, Memento, which more than quadrupled its budget. A 2002 remake of the Norwegian film Insomnia (arguably Al Pacino’s last good film) then led to him being handed the reins to the Batman franchise, which was in tatters after the critical mauling that Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin had received.
The rest is, as they say, history. Batman Begins, released in 2005, rebooted the character in a dark and gritty fashion, spawning two sequels which both grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. All three received significant critical acclaim, with The Dark Knight even winning an Oscar for the late Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker, a rarity for both blockbuster films and comic book adaptations.
In between Batman projects, Nolan made two other films – The Prestige and Inception. Both are held in high regard, making him a rare example of a director who is yet to have what could be considered a ‘bad’ film on his resume.
Like those of many other directors, Nolan’s films have their trends. One of the more noticeable in all but one of his films since Batman Begins has been the inclusion of a once renowned actor who has long since drifted into obscurity in a supporting role, giving them an opportunity to revive their careers. The Prestige is the exception, though it did feature singer David Bowie’s first acting appearance for several years (excluding a cameo as himself in Zoolander).
The trend looks set to continue in Man Of Steel, the upcoming Superman reboot that, although directed by 300 and Watchmen’s Zack Snyder, has Nolan attached as a producer. The lucky man this time around? Kevin Costner, who will play the role of Jonathan Kent. Despite a recent Emmy win for Hatfields & McCoys, the former Oscar winner has been a rare sight in mainstream cinema since the 1990s, when the back-to-back failure of two of his films, Waterworld and The Postman, destroyed his bankability as a star.
Time will tell if Costner can rebuild his career on the back of the role, as the following four men have mostly struggled to do, despite being given the chance to share the screen with contemporary heavyweights such as Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio in films that have grossed between $375 and $1.1 billion dollars.
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