Published: July 11, 2013 at 12:41 PM
Nolan was brought into "Man of Steel" because WB and Legendary wanted to bind the characters in a more realistic world, and allow for easier crossover within the DC universe. Much like Marvel has done with Avengers, DC has been wanting to do for years with Justice League. With Nolan's success with his Batman triogy, it was critical for DC to establish some level of consistancy between the franchises to allow for the inevidible crossover. Nolan has stated he's not interested in directing in the DC Universe again, but I think it's important to keep him in the fold, especially if they are going to reboot Batman again. DC's effort is not nearly as well-coordinated as Marvel, but you can see them finally laying the foundation (don't forget the well-done "Arrow" series on CW).
I would agree that "Rises" is not to the level of his first 2 Batman films, but it's still better than any other Batman film other than perhaps Tim Burton's first go-around, which owes much of its success to Jack Nicholson and Danny Elfman.
As far as being "heavy-handed" on "Man of Steel", my understanding was that Nolan was most influential in keeping the story grounded in Krypton and diminishing the role of Lois Lane despite the high profile casting of Amy Adams. Both of those decisions, IMHO, are what make "Man of Steel" rise to the heights that it does, and comes really close to matching Donner's "Superman II" (well that and Michael Shannon, of course).
I can't say that I've seen or really heard anything about "Irreversible", but "Memento" still stands up after over a decade as a solidly constructed film, even if you don't appreciate the "gimmick". I still find myself gravitating to it over the nearly 1,000 other movies on my shelf to pull more details from an additional viewing. I also stand by my assertion that "The Prestige" is the most underrated movie of the past decade (and it's got David Bowie as Nikola Tesla for goodness sake!).
And yes, Brad Bird's superhero movie is far more entertaining than just about anything released over the past decade. It's a shame he's gotten relegated to another theme park to big screen roll of the dice ("Tomorrowland") instead of getting at least co-directing responsibilities for "Star Wars". I don't think JJ will mess Episode VII up, but I think he should have EP-ed for Drew Goddard or Bird to stay away from the inevidible comparisons to Star Trek. Trekkers and Star Wars fans don't necessarily play nice all the time, and this will just add fuel to the fire.
I still think Nolan is a landmark director that will ultimately be lauded in the same breath as Spielberg, Scorsese, Coppola, Hitchcock, and Kubrick. His movies reach a wide audience, and are thought-provoking and original. He understands who will watch his films, and anyone that can pull a $300 million domestic box office number from an untethered sci-fi/fantasy story must be doing something right ("The Matrix" couldn't even reach $200 million in 1999).