Interstellar Intertextuality: How Ben Affleck is Batman
By Brock Bowen
Ever since Ben Affleck was cast as the new Batman, the fans have not responded positively, myself included. Something happened though when I started to connect the dots, and eventually I realized that this is what the past few generations of Nolan’s movies have led us to.
To explain why Ben Affleck is the new Batman, I’m unfortunately going to have to spoil “Good Will Hunting”, “Gone Girl”, and all of Nolan’s movies. In return, I’ll show you how intertextuality works, and prove how subtext influences our subconscious more than plot influences our consciousness.
In “Gone Girl”, Amy Dunne, played by Rosamund Pike, plays the wife of Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck. Throughout the movie, she lives a normal, quiet and boring life with Nick. When she finds out he cheated, she fakes her own death and goes to live with two different sets of people.
The first group represents the chaotic side of things —they eventually attack her and steal her money. She feels threatened, so she goes to her old high school boyfriend, who represents the pragmatic side of things. She tires of him because of all of his structure and she needs some excitement, and winds up killing him. Remember that article I wrote last week about the “Duality of Man”? One side she cannot handle, and the other cannot handle her, so she ends up going back to Nick after he has grown up. The way to really look at it: Nick was acting like a child, so she left and killed off that child-side of him to metaphorically represent when she actually killed her high school boyfriend.
In “Good Will Hunting”, Ben Affleck plays Chuck and Matt Damon plays Will. Chuck represents the chaotic side, while Will represents the pragmatic side. Throughout the movie, Will goes through a series of obstacles which force him to grow up, and he leaves for California on his birthday to go to Skylar, his love interest. “Good Will Hunting” was made in 1997 and a lot of our culture has changed since then. Many people who took those movies to heart and let them influence their lives subsequently never grew up. It was because a movie gave them the courage that they wouldn’t have had themselves to go after the one they wanted, so it was a false confidence.
In “Interstellar”, Matt Damon plays Dr. Mann and Matthew McConaughey plays Cooper. The dynamics of characterization changeup with Mann showing no development in the movie, while Cooper goes from being a simple-living farmer back to being a pilot, which is what he always wanted to do. This is similar to how Batman was ordered to kill the farmer in “Batman Begins” when he is being introduced to the League of Shadows. Cooper used to be a pilot until he crashed, but the cause of the crash is unknown. Nolan did this to keep the ties open because the entire movie has allowed intertextuality through the ambiguity of the anomalies. This makes it easier to connect them in the black hole.
Another example is when Mann is trying to mount the station but is forcing it open, instead of letting it organically connect. He tries to be impressive and talks about how it isn’t about him, but he says “There is a moment…” and he crashes the plane. What actually happened can be explained: the main character in all of Nolan’s movies has this moment of weakness that ties them all together, and that is the moment that Mann was talking about, but it was so cheap that it burned up and that is what creates the black hole.
Essentially, the black hole in the movie represents the center of all the connections inside Nolan’s movies. Each and every one of Nolan’s movies are tied, like when Batman is fighting Ra’s Al Ghul on the ice —this is the exact same scene, but with different characters. This contrasts with Mann, who is fighting with Cooper on the ice in “Interstellar”. Ra’s al Ghul even says “The Will is everything. The Will to act,” citing the false confidence that Robin Williams gave the audience in “Good Will Hunting”.
In “Insomnia”, Al Pacino plays Will and Robin Williams plays Walter. Throughout the movie, there is an absence of night-time, and because of a traumatic event that Will has difficulty talking about, he starts to go crazy while working on a case. Eventually, you find out that Walter stole the goodwill by telling Will that it wasn’t his fault and that he was a good man, even if Will didn’t want to believe it. This is “Insomnia”, not “Good Will Hunting”, a direct intertextuality between the two, and by the end Will confronts his demons and admits to his guilt.
Nolan also wrote and directed the Dark Knight trilogy, and to dimensionalize his universe he put “Insomnia” in the beginning, “Inception” in between the trilogy, and “Interstellar” afterwards. He also put “The Prestige” in as well, and the format of that movie has three steps: the Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige.
The Pledge represents the movie because it’s something plain and simple. The Turn is when you discover intertextuality and the craziness inside, while finally the Prestige is when you discover all the good stuff inside and can start writing about it on your own. The catch phrase of “The Prestige” is “You have to bring it back”, referencing how whatever connections you make in writing have to come full-circle, or the wormhole of intertextuality doesn’t work.
How it all comes together is through the subtext of feminism in contemporary cinema. The protagonist in Nolan’s movies, like most, follow the standard monomyth dynamic —which is a male who is troubled but shows potential. By the end of “Interstellar”, Cooper, who fits the description of monomyth, realizes that the only reason he was chosen for all of this was to show his daughter, Murph, that all of these anomalies were possible. There was no other choice but to leave, and it will be worth it in the end. While Cooper stays in space, Murph stops trying to sabotage the world Cooper was trying to save, and ends up saving humanity.