Editorial: Stop Accusing Christopher Nolan of Defending Angry Fan Death Threats

Editorial: Stop Accusing Christopher Nolan of Defending Angry Fan Death Threats

Jul 19, 2012

At some point between then and now, the tidal wave of anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises shifted from excitement to anger. In the past few days, Rotten Tomatoes was forced to shut down their commenting system on Dark Knight Rises reviews because of a group of unruly, hate-spewed comments toward critics whose early reviews of the film weren't favorable. Things got so out of hand that at one point critics began receiving death threats, both in comment threads and via e-mail, and suddenly the most anticipated movie of the year was tainted by news story after news story featuring angry quotes from anonymous "fans" who've clearly taken their fandom to a dangerous level. 

Following the London premiere of the film, one story hit the AP that made it look like Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan was defending these crazed fans. Here's the exact quotes from that story:

Appearing at Wednesday's London premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises," Nolan was quick to defend fans' heated response to the reviews.
 
"I think the fans are very passionate about these characters the way a lot of people are very passionate. Batman's been around for over 70 years and there's a reason for that. He has a huge appeal, so I think you know people certainly respond to the character," he said.
 
This brief exchange, which may or may not have been taken out of context, has now spread across the internet like wildfire, with some going so far as to make it seem like Nolan is defending those few who actually did make death threats. (Sound familiar, Louis C.K..?) But the reality of this whole non-story is that Nolan isn't saying anything wrong here. His description of the Batman fanbase is spot on, and in no way is that quote "defending" anyone. It's just describing the fanbase as he's come to know it through making his three Batman movies. 
 
We don't know the question that led to his answer since it's not part of the story. It's saying he's defending "fans' heated response," but that could've easily been added to capitalize on the popularity of the Rotten Tomatoes thing, who, might I add, were completely in the right for shutting down that comment thread, as is any website that feels the conversation on a particular story has turned too sour to continue to allow comments. As an exercise, here are a number of other questions that could've led to that same answer:
 
1. Why do you think this franchise has become so popular over the years?
2. Do you think the fans have had a lot to do with the success of all three of your Batman movies?
3. What do you think about how vocal the fanbase has become?
 
Look, I didn't write this to stir up even more trouble. If anything I'm writing this in an attempt to get us back on track. To get us back to when we were not only anticipating a summer movie with energy and excitement, but to a place of love and admiration for a trilogy like no other, and for the talented director who took on the task of completing this trilogy so that we'd have it forever.
 
One of the things I adore so much about the summer movie season are the stories I can tell about how meaningful and important this season was to me growing up. I will never forget experiencing films like E.T., Jurassic Park, Independence Day and The Dark Knight for the first time, on a hot summer day with an audience who cheered on the movie and their experience watching it because they knew those moments would turn into something they'd never forget. 
 
Christopher Nolan is a man who knows how to deliver those moments, and I for one hope he continues to do that for years to come. Let's concentrate on that. Let's toast to that. 
 
Let's thank him for that.

Categories: Features, Editorials, Geek
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