Winning streak: Following (1998), Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005), The Prestige (2006), The Dark Knight (2008), Inception (2010), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Pay attention to any recent news report about the latest superhero franchise-starter or costumed avenger reboot and you'll see an iteration of the following statement: They're going for "the Christopher Nolan approach." Which indicates that, basically, the respective filmmaker and producers intend to focus more on brains and dark storytelling than CGI and overblown spectacle. We pure cinema lovers of the world owe Nolan for such a shift in Hollywood priorities.

Back when the England-born writer-director first took on the Caped Crusader brand with 2005's Batman Begins, he wasn't the most obvious choice; before then, Nolan's credits included a black-and-white noir flick (Following), a crime thriller told backwards (the spellbinding Memento), and a cerebral cat-and-mouse potboiler starring two elder statesmen, Al Pacino and Robin Williams (Insomnia). So, yeah, he wasn't on the top of anyone's mind when it came to summertime popcorn fare.

Fortunately, though, the brass at Warner Bros. realized that great films, like the ones Nolan had already made, are all the criteria that's needed. And today, thanks to Christopher, his brother Jonathan Nolan, and their collaborator David Goyer, the Dark Knight trilogy has legitimized superhero movies for those uptight folks who'd typically frown upon Comic-Con products.

But we're not shedding any tears over Nolan's decision to step away from Gotham City after The Dark Knight Rises. As he proved with the incredibly brain-scrambling dueling magicians sleeper The Prestige and the James Bond by way of Sigmund Freud smash Inception, Nolan brings the same level of intelligence and showmanship to any and all projects.