Video: How Michael Mann Influenced Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight'

If you ask me, Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight is a masterwork, not just as a superhero movie but as a film. But like most great filmmakers, Nolan wears his film influences on his sleeves, and it's very evident in his work. We've talked previously about how Nolan's love for the James Bond franchise has shown up in his films from time to time (For instance, The Dark Knight Rises opening sequence was clearly inspired by 1989's Licence to Kill). A new video essay presents scenes from director Michael Mann's films side by side with sequences from Nolan's work on The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight Michael aMnn Influences Video Essay

Glass Distortion put together the above video which shows scenes from The Dark Knight next to scenes from Michael Mann films (Heat, The Insider, Collateral, and LA Takedown). The influence is unmistakable, and Nolan has often credited Mann's films when talking about his Batman Begins sequel. He told variety that he screened Heat for all his department heads before going into production.

"I always felt 'Heat' to be a remarkable demonstration of how you can create a vast universe within one city and balance a very large number of characters and their emotional journeys in an effective manner," Nolan says.

In 2007, the director discussed the Michael Mann inspirations in an interview with IGN:

In the case of The Dark Knight, we're attempting to tell a very large, city story or the story of a city. In the same way that, I don't know, Michael Mann's films, like Heat or something. That was sort of an inspiration. If you want to take on Gotham, you want to give Gotham a kind of weight and breadth and depth in there. So you wind up dealing with the political figures, the media figures. That's part of the whole fabric of how a city is bound together.

The influence can be particularly felt in The Dark Knight's opening bank heist sequence, which borrows a bit from the big heist sequence in Heat. Nolan admitted that the idea to cast William Fichtner as the bank manager in the robbery sequence was "a bit of a nod to" Heat. Both films are also very frequently cast in blue tones. There are long essays discussing Mann's influences on Nolan's filmography. In fact, last year Nolan even moderated a Heat screening with Mann and the cast in Los Angeles. Read our coverage from that event here.

Mann's influence can also be felt in Nolan's other films, although Interstellar's Dr. Mann is not named after the filmmaker.

"I did apologize to Michael Mann, too," Nolan said. "I told him, 'It's not intended as an affront!'"