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NYCC | Nolan Talks Superhero Influences in Person of Interest

Jim Caviezel on "Person of Interest"

On the surface, Person of Interest might not seem like a show that belongs at New York Comic Con. But the CBS procedural boasts talent like creator Jonathan Nolan and actors Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel and Amy Acker, and is expanding in its second season on an intriguing science-fiction mythology. As it turns out, it also has something of a superhero origin story.

During a roundtable interview, Spinoff Online mentioned to Nolan that there appeared to be elements of Batman in his crime drama – in particular, the relationship between Caviezel’s Reese and Emerson’s Finch parallels that of Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis in the animated Batman Beyond. While he said he wasn’t particularly influenced by that Batman story, he confirmed the Dark Knight has influenced his work.

“I spent a lot of time in the Batman universe and I’m sure there are some similarities,” said Nolan, who co-wrote The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises with his brother Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. “Batman Beyond is a very cool property, it’s not one that I spent a lot of time looking at, but that idea — if you look at almost any comic book hero, the key component seems to be the vigilante aspect. There’s something extremely compelling about having a character who’s trying to help people but in doing so is putting themselves in kind of harms way, both financially and legally and all those sorts of things.”

Jonathan Nolan

He continued, “I, in part, looked at the great successes of comic book movies in the last 10 years, which was kind of a phenomenon — it’s a great time for comic book fans to be going to the movies — and wondered why that hadn’t necessarily translated to the small screen, and it felt like you had a couple things that worked there.”

Nolan explained the intent of Person of Interest was to make a superhero TV show without an actual superhero. It’s not specifically a reference to Batman as we had thought, but there definitely are comic-book elements.

“It’s a science fiction show but there’s a genre element to it. We tried to strip it down to the essentials,” Nolan said. “So, ‘What are the essential attributes of a comic book hero?’ and then ground it even more. Those were the comic book heroes I was always drawn to, Batman chief among them, because he’s a guy. He’s a guy in a suit, whose superpower is rage and money, and that makes for compelling [story].”

Because of that, we’re going to see the mythology of Person of Interest grow in Season 2. Nolan said he revels in the ability to expand a universe on television rather than having to trim it down on film.

“An aspect of my favorite shows is always the bigger questions,” he said. “We aim each season to give our audience as many answers as we give them questions, because I think that’s playing fair by the audience. So far it seems to be working.”

Acker’s Root has already made an appearance this season and will have a recurring role, while Ken Leung’s Leon Sung will also return in later episodes. And though main characters Reese, Carter, Fusco and Finch continue to get along, don’t expect that to last for long.

Amy Acker and Michael Emerson

“You’ve got to throw a wrinkle in there occasionally, so expect things to take a turn for the worst,” Nolan teased.

In fact, the tension between Fusco and Carter will come to a head in Episode 3, when they have a conversation about their relationships with Finch and Reese.

“Carter’s a natural detective. She’s never going to be satisfied with being kept at arm’s length, but Fusco has a very different background, kind of understands the distinction,” Nolan explained. “I think that the line he uses in the third episode is, ‘Whatever level these guys are playing at, we’re not there.’ So you’re going to continue to see that be a question and a source of some disagreement between them.”

There are plenty of secrets to be answered in Season 2, and the mysterious computer at the center of the show will continue to have more of a presence. Be prepared for stakes to be heightened and each episode to become more intense than the last.

“We’ll just be continuing to try to tell compelling stories of the week in a different world of New York, but slowly ratcheting up kind of the tension,” Nolan said. “We know where it’s going, but the fun is some of the stops along the way you sort of discover new territory as you’re going.”

Person of Interest airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.


  • Demoncat4

    always wondered if any super hero like batman had any influence on the creation of person of interest since reece and finch seem to have that type of relationship though more like batman and  a male more refined version of oracle.

  • ZBaksh386

     Lets hope this show continues for a long time.

  • ZBaksh386

     more like alfred.

  • Wildstorm

    I have been saying this since the pilot. Reece is Batman, Finch is a male Oracle.  Carter is a female Gordon. Fusco is Bullock.

  • Matt Hickman

    I also see an influence of _The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress_ in the machine becoming self-aware.

  • Al D.

    Took me a few episodes to figure it out, but basically this is “Dark Knight, the TV series!” minus the Capes & supervillains & up the urban crime angle. 

  • Wildstorm

    and Root seems to be (maybe)  Riddler (Duela)

  • Wildstorm

     or Enigma

  •!/ David R. Schmitt

    Man I love this show. My wife and I saw the Batman influence very early on. Not a weak episode last season. Top notch.

  • James

    C’mon guys, I’ve only seen the pilot but it is exactly the Bat-sonar cellphonehax plot from The Dark Knight, but instead of Morgan Freeman blowing it up at the end he sends Batman out on a mission of the week. Ain’t no code to crack.

  • Flip Maker

    You’re so smart, James. So smart. (sarcasm)

  • Farvahar

    BRAVO Nolan, we love you, YOU ARE AWESOME, Keep up the awesome JOB.

  • Lewis4510

    This show was the one bright spot in an otherwise forgettable crop of new shows last season.

  • Ianroberts007

    This show is awesome! So much fun to watch..

  • gadlaw

    I love the show. I describe it as Batman meets the Matrix and Colossus the Forbin Project. I can see elements of all of these in Person of Interest. It’s Batman living in the Matrix with the examined question of whether the Machine, whether this Colossus has achieved consciousness and the question of what it does with that consciousness. A lot of room for questions to be asked and answered about life, the human condition, the nature of good and evil. Endless possibilities.

  • James

    “Flip” “Maker”: I can’t simultaneously be stressing how obvious it is and implying that I’m smart for spotting it, can I? Only a dumb person would do that, and I am so, so smart (there it is!)