Marvel Studios has had a tremendous impact on the superhero film genre, popularizing the shared universe model that others will look to emulate over the next few years. One of their other claims to fame are the now-famous mid/post-credits button scenes, which either tease at what’s to come or are played for a quick laugh. The technique has been used by non-Marvel Studios films recently (The Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men: Days of Future Past among the examples), as well as by Warner Bros./DC on the 2011 Green Lantern movie.
However, director Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy did not include any additional scenes once the end credits had begun to roll; and despite being the first building block to WB’s DC cinematic universe, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (produced by Nolan) was absent of extra material as well. Turns out there’s a reason for that.
Nolan, who is busy promoting his new film Interstellar, was profiled in the Guardian, where it was revealed that the studio powers that be behind Man of Steel asked the filmmaker if Snyder would include a “comedy coda” to the movie. Nolan’s reply:
“A real movie wouldn’t do that.”
While Nolan is entitled to his opinion, this does seem like a rather harsh viewpoint on what has become a fun tradition for moviegoers. Even an Oscar-winning work like Django Unchained has a throwaway button scene after the credits, and there are several cinephiles out there who would classify Quentin Tarantino’s Western as a “real movie.”
On the other hand, Django has strong elements of dark comedy, whereas Man of Steel (while it has its funny moments) is far more serious on the whole. So, although Nolan may be against the concept of credits sequences in general, his no-questions-asked response here might’ve had more to do with what sort of film Man of Steel is; were it more of a comedy or light-hearted adventure, maybe Nolan would’ve been more open-minded?
UPDATE: Nolan has issued a statement in response to the original quote (via BuzzFeed News):
“I would never say someone else’s film isn’t ‘a real film. The quote is inaccurate.”
The BuzzFeed article also cites a source saying that Nolan’s vetoing of a “comedy coda” for Man of Steel was, indeed, because he felt it would detract from the film’s “overall darker and more serious tone,” and because it would allow the film “to forego a cinematic path separate from Marvel Studios.”
In an age where franchises are planned out far in advance of the present day, the studios have a need to generate excitement for their future endeavors amongst causal moviegoers. Not everyone follows the release schedules as closely as we do, so including a stinger to hint at things to come (Thanos in The Avengers) raises awareness in the general population and causes die-hards’ minds to explode. It’s a perfect way of having your cake and eating it too.
The buttons can also be beneficial by allowing filmmakers the ability to focus more on the narrative they’re trying to tell as opposed to working in shared universe hints into the film proper. During their Phase 1 days, Marvel was criticized by some for dedicating too much of their movies for Avengers set up, neglecting the character that bared the film’s title (Iron Man 2, for instance). As they progressed through Phase 2, however, that stance has softened a bit – with both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy finding the right balance between standalone tale and universe-building obligations.
In short: Nolan’s comment is sure to ruffle some feathers (though others may agree with him), since not just superhero movies – which have moved up from being viewed as novelty acts to productions with true artistic merits – but other genre films have used post-credits scene before. To see an instrumental figure in Hollywood today be dismissive of them is, frankly, a little disappointing.
That said, it doesn’t sound as though Man of Steel would’ve included a Justice League stinger had Nolan felt otherwise (more just a throw-away gag), so… take that as you will.
Interstellar will be in theaters November 7.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.