On several occasions I've seen users decrying the Nolan Batman as being little more than spy-fi with little or no fantasy or science-fictional content.

Is the 'Dark Knight trilogy' on topic for SFF:SE and if so, why?

Related: Is Gotham on topic?

  • 3
    Waving your hand airily at it and saying "well, it's Batman, innit?" isn't an answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 23:40
  • Anyway, comment here says Nolanverse is on topic but it doesn't link to that "decision".
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 0:04
  • @Valorum - these are not the Batmans you are looking for *waves hand airily* Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 0:20
  • 3
    VTC!!!.... THROUGH EXILE Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 0:22
  • 2
    Do we need to go through every single Batman one-off, non-continuity comic and animated feature and ask if it's on topic or not?
    – user31178
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 1:03
  • 2
    @creationedge - The 'Nolan'verse' has been especially singled out on multiple occasions in chat. I thought it would be nice to put this one to bed finally and comprehensively.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 1:14
  • 1
    Gotham TV show have weird science shit but Nolan trilogy don't have that. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 6:22

4 Answers 4


It's on topic (check the links at the bottom).

  1. The linked question covers most of this already.
  2. The 75 questions we have seem to indicate the community thinks it's on topic. If there was a time to ban it (and confuse and annoy Batman fans) it would've been as swiftly after people started asking as possible. But no one took it to meta, and instead voiced their opinion by not DVing and VTCing the questions away.
  3. The final film has a sci-fi clean/limitless energy device turned into a nuke and other extraordinarily advanced technology such as The Bat. Those things aren't just by the ways, but important throughout the plot.
  4. It's Batman. The franchise is on topic, considering we've never had an official Batman media been deemed off-topic. There's no reason to cherry pick versions of the character that we're allowed to discuss. This comes up when people use asking questions of the entire franchise, Nolan movies included.

To me, this question actually seems to be about defining what Sci-fi is. Without a fast definition, we can't compare the trilogy to it and see how it holds up. If Nolanverse is off-topic, then we need to come up with a better definition of SFF.

The top answers on these questions would place Nolanverse on topic, easily:

What are our boundaries?

What is and what isn't considered science fiction?

Is James Bond science fiction?

Are works that aren't SF per se, but have occasional SFnal elements on-topic? (e.g. spy movies)

Reading those answers, the community seems pretty open to accepting a broad range of SFF, and our actual Q&A voting patterns would seem to agree. Our voting seems to be less based on "Is this even on topic?" even on grey area questions, and more "Is this even a good question?"

(And since our reigning policy is "if you think a case can be made for it, it's on topic", I think the case has been made, not here but in the fact that the questions are here already and have done well enough).

  • I was looking for that: "limitless energy device". Source?
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 1:49
  • @Mazura It wasn't actually limitless, just touted as a really awesome, cheap energy. Probably needs a trope link more than anything
    – user31178
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 1:50
  • "really awesome, cheap energy" is nothing but a fantasy.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 1:52
  • 2
    @Mazura On topic!
    – user31178
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 1:56
  • Looks reasonable, but I won't vote since I've never watched it.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 11:39
  • @Randal'Thor Well, based on our "If you can make a case for it" criteria, you wouldn't need to. If you find the argument reasonable... it's on topic.
    – user31178
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 11:42
  • 3
    @mazurka - If it wasn't for all the liberal nay-sayers, nuclear power would be really awesome, practically limitless and dirt cheap.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 15:11

I'm posting this answer separately so what's given here isn't coupled with my other reasoning:

Our longest-standing, highest-approved determination of SFF on-topicness is this:

  1. If it's marketed as SF, it's on-topic.
  2. If magic, futuristic science or technology, alternate history, or other sf-nal concept is an important part of the overall plot, it's on-topic. (Alice in Wonderland, Clockwork Orange, etc.)
  3. If the question is specifically about an sf-nal element, even if it's only a minor part of the work, it's on-topic.
  4. If it's set in an on-topic universe, it's on-topic.
  5. If you're not sure it's SF but you think a good case can be made for it, it's on-topic.
  6. If there is a minor supernatural element (e.g. a fortune teller's prediction comes true, or someone sees a ghost, or a story for children involving anthropomorphic animals) but it's just a throwaway plot element that's not particularly relevant to the question, it's off-topic.

This is a rather inclusive policy. I think being inclusive will generate less friction (better have a few questions that purists can just snub, than cause bad feelings by closing borderline questions). This isn't to say you shouldn't vote to close if you feel that a borderline question is on the wrong side of the border, but please explain your reasoning when you cast your close vote.

For 1: I'd say it's marketed as a Super Hero film, and getting agreement on whether or not that's SF marketing may not happen.

For 2:

The first film includes:

  • A high-tech military jumping tank, the Tumbler
  • A sci-fi chemical weapon that induces vivid, fear-based hallucinations, created from a flower (a type of blue poppy) that doesn't actually exist
  • A sci-fi microwave emitter device that can evaporate an enemy's water supply from a distance
  • A sci-fi sonic transmitter device that summon bats to its location

    The first 3 are very large pieces of the plot, with the last two being the core plot and part of the climax of the film.

For the second movie:

  • A sci-fi, echolocation-based visual mapping system to render objects in real time
  • A wall of computing equipment that can hack everybody's cell phones and turn their microphones into data points for echolocation system, and also pinpoint people's location just by their voice
  • A tank-like vehicle with a certain level of automation, plus the ability to eject a motorcycle-like device that uses the same "wheels", and said motorcyle device has wheels that can rotate on two axis.

    The first two are major plot elements and involved in the climax. Also, movie 2 is in the same universe as movie 1.

For the final movie:

  • An energy generated described as "No radiation, no fossil fuels. Free, clean energy for an entire city."
  • A way to turn that generated into a giant nuclear bomb
  • A flying vessel described as thus: "Defense Department project for tight-geometry urban pacification. Rotors configured for maneuvering between buildings without recirculation.", which not only seems SF-nal, but looks it:
    • enter image description here
  • A "clean slate" sci-fi hacking program that can erase all digital footprints of somebody, including government records, so that the person's identity can essentially be rebooted

These elements all play important pieces of the plot. This movie is still in the same universe.

For 4: If one film is SFF, then per this rule they all are. We also have the possibility of a DC Multiverse event at some point that ties the movie universe to other universes, which could also reinforce this shared universe space.

For 5: I think a good case can be made. I think I made it here already.

The policy is meant to be inclusive. Putting this as off-topic would cause friction, and would snub people.

And, determining whether or not it's on-topic was supposed to be handled by the community voting to close, and explaining their votes. No one is VTCing these questions, that I can tell. We've been okay with them, therefore we are okay with them.

If we're not okay with, that should be settled by exercising rights to close and reopen, not adding a new policy that says the questions should be closed or open. The existing policy is to let we the people make this decision ourselves, for each question, not have meta make the decision for us and then we go and enforce it for every question that matches.

  • 1
    +1 to every part of this other than "if one film is SFF, then per this rule they all are". That seems to open the door to a whole bunch of non-scif-fi films with wacky sequels (Weekend at Bernie's II, for example) suddenly being considered SFF.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:28
  • @Valorum That's just the existing policy, though, not just my stance. They share a concrete universe. I agree that the rule is a bit loose, but it's what we have now. At least for these movies the narrative is tied and the "feel" is consistent.
    – user31178
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:32

Yes, because he's Batman.

Seriously, that's all we need to say.


Dark Knight trilogy is way less Sci-Fi then James bond film.

A billionaire man uses scientific gadgets to fight crime. Villains are a man with half burnt face, a psychotic man and a team of assassins; nothing more Sci-Fi then any spy film.

Just because he is Batman seems the most unreasonable statement. On the other hand, DCEU's batman is Sci-Fi, as he fights with alien beasts and his villain gallery included super-powered people (the Suicide Squad). Similarly, the Gotham TV series does have Sci-Fi elements: resurrections, super-powers etc etc.

tl;dr: No.

  • Those are not the only criteria we use to determine whether something is scifi or not.
    – user31178
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 11:25
  • @CreationEdgeproblem is that the criteria is too vague Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:12
  • Just fixed up your answer; I suspect it's being downvoted because people disagree rather than because it wasn't in good English, but no harm in making sure.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 13:43
  • This essentially means that Iron Man 1, 2, and 3 are all off-topic. It's just a billionare man using scientific gadgets to fight crime. Villains are a man using scientific gadgets to commit crime, another man using a LOT more scientific gadgets to commit crime, and a man who uses scientific biology to commit crime.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 16:53
  • 1
    @Ellesedil doesn't it exists in the world where god come to earth and have fun with human girls. Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 16:58
  • @AnkitSharma: Why yes, Iron Man does exist in a fictional universe where superpowered beings visit Earth and cause all sorts of trouble. So does Batman. This is why your answer is wrong and being downvoted.
    – Ellesedil
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    @Ellesedil I am talking about nolan trilogy here not DC comics or DCAU or DCEU Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 17:02
  • At best, you've made a case that it's on the same level as James Bond; but you're saying its "way less Sci-Fi than James Bond"; in which ways would it be less?
    – JMac
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 19:13
  • @JMac James bond gadet are way more futuristic then Batman had in Nolan series Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 9:09
  • @AkiraFudo I don't see how you could really call one more futuristic than the other. Both seem to be based on "realistic" but non-existent technologies.
    – JMac
    Commented Apr 7, 2020 at 11:53
  • @JMac so call it equal ? I mean right now Nolan films are considered more scifi on this site then james bond films. Commented Apr 9, 2020 at 5:50

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