15 Christopher Nolan's Characters Ranked
The characters of Nolan are said to be not his biggest strengths. His time defying concepts, his out of the world plots, his complex narratives are some of the major strengths of his films. Yet, there is something in his characters too. With time they grow on you. There is such charm around them that you can’t get them out of your head. The Joker or Batman from Batman Trilogy, or Cooper from Interstellar, or Robins Williams menacing, and twisted character from Insomnia. These are some of the characters which one can’t forget about.
In this article, we are celebrating his characters, and trying to rank them, perhaps unsuccessfully, according to how memorable they are and how iconic their being is.
15. Co. Gordon
A grounded yet very realistic character. The character of commissioner Gordon is throughout the film a seemingly minor character in The Batman Trilogy. But as the story progresses his importance and impact is massively increased, and at the end, it becomes one of the most important character in the film.
The Prestige is darkest of all Nolan films. With themes of obsession, anger, revenge and magic. The heights to which Angier reaches to compete and outperform his rival is a fascinating spectacle. Forgetting all the morals Angier go lengths to make his contemporary look below him.
There is no particular emphasis on the characters of Dunkirk, they are just faces, hundreds of them, the people caught in the ongoing war. A soldier, a pilot, a common man, a commander, that’s all they are. They do not have much of significance to their personality. Yet, the character of Pilot is seemingly an important one. We don’t see his face for nearly an entire film. He is just pilot on the mission to save people. And the way his character his handled, the certain mystery the character had, makes him one of the most intriguing characters in the film.
Saito, at the start of the film seems just an another villain in the film. But it is his character which is the backbone or the guiding point of the whole utterly complex and jaw droppingly intriguing storyline. His character is the central one. He is the who knows the entire mystery. He is the one in control throughout the film, not Cobb, not Mal, not Eaves. An utterly fascinating character who haven’t quite got his attention he deserves.
11. The Blonde
The first Nolan film was entirely different than his upcoming films. Yet, there was something Nolanesque in this film too. The storyline is deceiving. And importantly the characters. There is an air of mystery about The Blonde from the start. There is air of smartness, confidence, secrecy about her, which makes the protagonist so fascinated by her. While the protagonist is an interesting character himself or his buddy thief, who is also quite charismatic, but none of them had the charisma, the charm and the mystery as The Blonde had.
10. Leonard Shelby
Never we have been much more personally and deeply engaged with a character than Memento’s Leonard Shelby. As Leonard figuring out about his past, in presence of his chronic mental condition, which makes him forget even the most recent of things. Just heap of random memories and a revenge to take for the murder of his wife. The film does so well in getting us into this character’s head, through effective use of editing and great acting by Guy Pierce.
The Dark Knight Rises
It was a difficult task for any actor to outperform than what Heath Ledger did in earlier The Dark Knight as an antagonist. But Tom Hardy as Bane did excellent job if not as par with Ledger’s Joker. Bane is a menacing character and is really much more powerful than Batman throughout the film. Bane dominated every moment with Bruce. Which makes him Nolan’s one of the most perfect villains in his filmography.
The relationship of the daughter and father is the emotional core of the film. The daughter, Murph, is the breathing life and beating heart of the film. Played by three different actresses, at various times of Murphs’s life, the character is unbelievably human. The quest of search for her father, the efforts to meet him again and the anger towards his father for abandoning her, are all too believable and wrenchingly melancholic.
7. Miranda Tate
The Dark Knight Rises
Nolan’s female characters are often termed as naive, lacking the motives or proper arc. But Miranda Tate, in The Dark Knight Rises is a fully executed character with justified motives, complete psychological coherence and a dominating presence. The mastermind behind everything that happens in the film.
Mal is a secret mystery of the film. A central piece of this whole puzzle. She comes and goes, like air and dominating everything that is happening, defying all laws of logic. Just so surreal her presence is. We don’t know why she haunts Cobb the way she does. Or what exactly she has against him. When the secret is revealed, through Cobb himself, in one of the most emotionally impactful scene. The situation of Cobb is finally understood. And the tragic past of Mal is all the more fascinating force of the film.
Cooper is a complex personality. His presence on screen is very enjoyable. His ideals, his beliefs, his love for his daughter, his struggles are all so interesting. The amount of things he goes through all the cathartic experiences, makes his character a very unique and absorbing one.
Quite perhaps the most famous Nolan character. When we talk about Batman, Christian Bale’s powerful presence comes to the mind. The grace and conviction with which Bale have performed Batman, that there is no one we can imagine playing that character better. An amazingly powerful performance, going through lot of visible changes from the first Batman film to the last one.
3. Harvey Dent
The Dark Knight
Harvey Dent is an interesting character. Quite surpassing Batman too, in certain cases. His idealism is very fascinating part of his character. The aura and honesty of the character is also quite admirable. He single handedly vanished the crime from Gotham city since his arrival. Which Batman, with all his resources could not do. But the various tragic incidents he goes through and the way his character goes through the change is interesting but also pretty forlorn.
The Dark Knight
A monumental performance by Heath Ledger. An uncanny and massively effective villain. The presence of his screen is menacing, almost hypnotic. The charisma it has is ground breaking. At most part he was the dominating force of the film, quite easily in control over Batman. And made Batman a helpless character throughout.
Cobb is Nolan’s most relatable and human character. Because of the fact that how real his situation is, and how simple and clear his motives are. Though Cobb’s demeanor is simple and plain, we see his secret revealed, and his source of struggles. There is lot of going on with him. And that makes it all the more fascinating.
His professionalism in the film also enhances the quality of his character. Played with such perfection and conviction by Leonardo Di Caprio, making it one his best performance. The ranges of emotions Cobb goes through this film, from despair to excitement, utter confusion to fear, horror and to eventual escape. The journey of the character is also fascinating, as we see his life getting revealed slowly, effectively making us care for his ultimate fate.