3/26/2013


Learn seven interesting things you may not know about the making of Batman Begins.

Above Image: Christopher Nolan directing Batman Begins, Christian Bale

The Christopher Nolan films have grossed over 1.2 billion dollars and nominated for dozens of awards, but it wasn't always a guaranteed success. It's hard to imagine, but Nolan and his team were taking a lot of risks. There were real fears the project would fail.

Christopher Nolan is a very private film maker. He doesn't do rarely does director's commentary and his projects always have tight security. So, even though the movie Batman Begins came out in 2004 2005, the film still has secrets.

Thanks to the behind-the-scenes book, The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy, here are a few new facts about the making of Batman Begins.

The Batmobile Had to Sell itself

The Batmobile, known as "The Tumbler," is awesome, but when the film was being developed there were a lot of unknowns.

Since Nolan didn't want to use CGI for the vehicle it had to be built for real. Batmobiles for previous Batman films were mainly frames on car bodies, but the new Batmobile was different. The entire car was custom built. They needed six Tumblers for the film, but they were so expensive they didn't know if the studio would let them build all of them. Each practical Batmobile would cost a whopping $250,000 apiece! So, they decided to put on a show to sell the new Batmobile to the executives.

The unveiling of the prototype for Warner Bros. executives was a day of great anxiety. Would the studio invest in building the five vehicles Nolan had decided they needed for production? Their response to the practical Batmobile would determine this.

It was an unrivaled success. Studio executives were blown away by the powerful black vehicle on display. They immediately agreed to finance the building of the other Batmobiles.

"It was a very exciting day for us," special effects supervisor Chris Corbould recalled, "and at the end of that day, when everyone went away with smiles on their faces, Chris Nolan brought us a few bottles of champagne. We all had the feeling of 'Yes, we've got a winner here.'"

Yes Corbould. You had a winner.

Batman Almost Fought Calendar Man

The writing team wanted to avoid the villain focus of the last Batman movies but wanted a strong opponent for him. Since they were already reinventing Batman, they didn't want to increase the confusion by reinventing the villain. They looked through Batman's enemies and wanted someone that hasn't had screen time. It was tough, since most of the well-known villains from Batman's "Rogues Gallery" had already been used in other films.

"Chris and I had a long discussion about the various Rogues that were left." recalled Goyer, "and I knew them all. He asked me: 'Okay, who's left? Who can we use?'

"So I told him, 'Well, there's the Calendar Man.' 'What does he do?' 'He kills people based on holiday themes.' Chris said: 'No way. Who else?' 'Well, there's the Mad Hatter.' Gone. 'There's Killer Croc, this half-human, half-crocodile that lives in the sewers.' Gone. 'There's Clay Face, the human mud heap.' That wasn't going to work, either.

"And then I told Chris that among the villains that hadn't been seen in features yet was one of my favorites - Ra's al Ghul. Chris asked, 'Who's Ra's al Ghul?' And I said, 'Funny you should ask, 'because we'd been talking about coming up with a villain who was older and could function as Bruce's mentor, and then go bad and be the villain. Ra's was perfect for that because, in the comics, he is older and has a paternalistic quality. He's also the only villain to figure out Batman's secret identity. We loved the idea of Ra's teaching Bruce the fighting skills that he would use as Batman, and since Ra's is the one who teaches Bruce those techniques, he recognizes them in what Batman does and that's how he knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne. That makes him a very formidable villain."

So, they dropped Calendar Man and went with Ra's al Ghul. It's ironic that the second film made references to the "The Long Dark Holiday" Batman: The Long Halloween which has a calendar themed killer.

Nolan Tried Altering Batman's Voice
"Anybody have a cough drop?!"

Christian Bale's Batman is known for his gravely voice, but the production considered using effects to make his voice even more inhuman.

During filming Bale just used his voice along with a voice coach keeping him from losing his voice. But, the director did try to do a few things in post-production ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) to improve it. Christopher Nolan said, "Basically, the voice Christian did in production was very powerful and we found that when any attempt was made to over-manipulate it, it became very obvious and didn't really work. But the truth is, I think that there is a degree of performance that, frankly, just being in the suit and adopting the character onset, lends the voice that’s incredibly impressive. So we wound up using that very much as the basis of it."

So, if you think Bale's Batman voice is annoying now, imagine if they'd autotuned his voice like T-Pain. "I'mma Buy You a Batarang!" Anyway.

The Full-Scale Styrofoam Batmobile Was Almost Too Exact
The new Batmobile was more economical, but not well received.
When designing the Batmobile, Nathan Crowley built the model by "kit-bashing." That means he took parts from model kits and put them together. When the designers created a full scale foam model of the vehicle they recreated it to the last detail.

The crew needed a styrofoam model to build the wooden molds for the Batmobile's sixty-five separate body panels, which would then be mounted to a steel frame. Crowley's art department carved the form of the vehicle out of a large block of Styrofoam by hand. The Styrofoam shape measured nine feet, four inches long. It was utterly faithful to the original kit-bashed model.

They reproduced it down to the smallest detail. "The full-size mockup even had the wrong scale pieces and globs of glue that were on the original model." Nolan recalled.

I can only imagine the fear they must have instilled in the employees to make them so compliant. I imagine one terrified guy saying are we supposed to make it look like this?" The other guy probably said, "Do you want to get beat again! Just copy it!"

Nolan Didn't Want Scarecrow To Wear A Mask
The product placement of "Proactiv Solutions" was a little obvious.

Another villain that hadn't been in any other Batman film was Dr. Jonathan Crane aka "The Scarecrow." In the comics, he induces intense phobic reactions, or fear in his victims. It was decided he would be the administrator of Arkham Asylum. He would have a hand in developing and distributing the "Fear Toxin."

"He's a psychiatrist who is driven by the idea of manipulating people through fear." said Nolan, "and we felt that had an interesting relationship to what Bruce Wayne was embarking on with the Batman persona. So, Dr. Crane assumes a high degree of importance, both as himself and as the Scarecrow."

One characteristic of the Scarecrow that Nolan didn't like was the mask. There seemed to be no logical purpose for Crane to wear it. "Chris insisted that every thing and every character have a sense of verisimilitude," said Goyer, "so he asked if the Scarecrow had to use a mask. As the protector' of the comic book lore, I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'But I dont like the mask.' And I said, 'The Scarecrow has to have a mask - he has to.' He said, 'Fine,' but we had to come with a good reason for the Scarecrow to wear a mask."

As is characteristic of Nolan there had to be a "why," and it had to be real. In the end, Nolan and Goyer decided Scarecrow's mask was actually a gas mask to protect him from the effects of the fear toxin.

A Comic Shop Owner Figured Out Goyer Was Making A Batman Movie
"I told you before! I've never even heard of Batman!"

Writer David Goyer is a huge fan of comic books, but one shopping trip almost spilled the beans on the new Batman movie.

In the early summer of 2003, while doing research for the film, Goyer went shopping at one of his favorite stores. Even though it was common for Goyer to shop there, the store manager noticed him getting more than the usual number of Batman graphic novels and comic books.

Since the two had a friendly relationship, he began grilling him about his sudden renewed interest in the Dark Knight. He laughed it off, but the manager became even more suspicious. The manager said, "Something's up. You're writing a new Batman movie aren't you?" Goyer insisted he wasn't working on a movie and hurried out of the store with his comics.

A year Two years later Batman Begins came out and, we can only assume, the comic book owner felt like an idiot for believing Goyer's cruel lies.

They Didn't Think DC Would Let Them Burn Down Wayne Manor

The burning down of Wayne Manor was a major turning point in the script for Batman Begins, and they didn't think they would get away with it.

Wayne Manor has always been an iconic, almost sacred, place in the history of Batman. Goyer admitted, "I was amazed DC comics let us do it. But it seemed like the best thing to have happen at that point. We had this company that Bruce's father had helped build, and we had this manor that had been in the family for generations - and we thought, 'Wouldn't it be great to literally see all this crumble, to have Bruce feel as if he's utterly failed his father?"

It's an essential plot point in the Dark Knight trilogy. It moved Bruce from the Palisades into Gotham City for The Dark Knight. It made the loss of his fortune and ownership of his home in The Dark Knight Rises more touching. It also sent the message that anything in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies could burn to the ground.

What did you learn about Batman Begins? Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes fact about the movie?
[Image Source: www.guardian.co.uk]
 
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12 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

They really burned down Wayne Manor? Talk about realism.
Calendar Man? Glad that was scrapped.
And Bale's voice was gravely enough, thank you.

Pat Dilloway said...

I think they should have gone with Liberace as the villain. They probably could have got the Calendar Man to work; he just wouldn't have been called Calendar Man and wouldn't have a goofy costume. Maybe in the inevitable reboot.

Tony Laplume said...

If Goyer had explained a little more about Long Halloween, it may be very possible that the entire trajectory of the Nolan films would have changed. Because Calendar Man does not sell himself. Except after the first of the year, when he's heavily discounted.

spacerguy said...

The dark knight sure is a model of success for more Enterprise, hehe. I just couldn't resist that.

Maurice Mitchell said...

You never know Spacerguy. One day we may be talking about the Abrams Star Trek trilogy.

Maurice Mitchell said...

LOL The Calendar Man white sale Tony.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Yeah, he could have tatoos of bunnies and clovers all over him Pat.

David Conroy said...

Batman Begins was released in 2005 and not 2004. And Christopher Nolan HAS done two audio commentaries for Following and Insomnia.

Guest said...

The jokes in the article are bad.

Paul Chanter said...

This article is junk.
All this is common knowledge to anyone with even a faint interest in the movie.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Great points David! You get the "No Prize" for catching those.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Great points David! You get the "No Prize" for catching those man!

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