The recent book The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy
has a ton of fascinating facts seen nowhere else on the Internet.
Here are 15 of the most interesting ones.
Update: Added number four. 🙂
1. Osama Bin Laden Almost Interrupted The Filming
The scenes with the prison pit were filmed in
Jaipur Rajasthan, India near the Pakistan border. The shoot was already challenging based on bureaucracy, permits and safety concerns. But, two days prior to the shoot, American military forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. This raised tensions across the region. “The location was near an air base,” Thomas said, “and we’d already had a lot of wrangling over permission to fly helicopters, which we’d wanted to use to shoot a big, aerial establishing shot of that fantastic terrain. But after Osama bin Laden was killed and the whole world was suddenly on high alert, we were denied that permission. There were a lot of headaches there, but it was all well worth it for the production value that we got.”
(Update: A few have pointed out that the shooting location was Jodhpor, India and the Indian Times agrees. All I can say is the book quotes Nolan talking about Jaipur and doesn’t list Jodhpor. For clarity though, I’ll just say they filmed in Rajasthan. Both cities are in that location.)
2. No One Wanted Catwoman But Jonathan Nolan
Of the three writers, Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer only Jonathan thought Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) would work. The other two thought she would be too campy. But Jonathan felt Batman’s character arc wouldn’t be complete without her. “I was a big advocate of that character,” he said. “It seemed to me that if we’re trying to create a complete arc for Batman, we couldn’t do it without Cat-woman, and without that relationship between Catwoman and Batman.” The others were not so convinced.
“We kept thinking about Eartha Kitt in the role,” Goyer admitted, “which was not of the Christopher Nolan Batman universe at all.” When Christopher thought about her character, he thought of the campy female characterizations from the television show and movies. Eartha Kitt was far from Nolan’s vision of the Batman universe, but they found a way to make her interesting. In the end Nolan took it as a challenge. “I wasn’t sure how to illustrate that character in our world,” Christopher Nolan added, “but it was an interesting challenge. And, for me, what clinched it was abandoning the idea of her costume persona. We said: ‘Let’s look at her as a cat burglar, a grifter, a conwoman, and a real-life character. Let’s write that character; put her in the story, and trust that the theatrical elements of what makes her specifically Catwoman as opposed to any other cat burglar would evolve.'”
3. The Story Came First And Action Later
When Nolan and David developed Batman Begins and The Dark Knight they plotted action beats they needed and where they would be in the movie. In The Dark Knight Rises they wrote the story and characters and let the action develop naturally. “We absolutely resisted the idea of making The Dark Knight Rises bigger just because it was a third movie,” said Goyer. “We didn’t go into it saying that we were going to make an epic war movie, and then develop the story from that idea. It was decidedly the opposite of that. In fact, again, the first thing we came up with was the ending, which was very personal, and we wrote a beginning that also had Bruce Wayne in a very personal place. That’s what we had when we started. It wasn’t until a month or two into the writing process that things got very big and destructive in the middle.”
4. They Were Afraid Catwoman Would Break Her Ankle
To play Catwoman, Anne Hathaway went through intense physical training. Christopher Nolan expected her to perform all the fights herself without using a stunt double. “He wanted to make sure that in addition to learning the fights, I would be strong enough to do them for hours or days on end,” Hathaway stated. “So that was an opportunity to push myself in a way that I never had before. I worked out with my stunt woman, Maxine Whittaker, and she couldn’t have been more supportive.”
Instead of using the feline inspired style of the 90s film Batman Returns, they used a more aggressive street fighting style. Hathaway impressed everyone by putting in some long and intense hours of training throughout the entire shoot. “A lot of people in this business just show up,” co-stunt coordinator Tom Struthers said. “But that doesn’t work on a Chris Nolan film, and I think he chooses people, including actors, whom he knows will work hard. I think part of the reason he chose Anne for this was because he knew she’d put everything she had into it —and she did. Anne worked exceptionally hard, and she continued to train and work hard until the very last day of filming.” Interestingly, the greatest fear Struthers had watching her fight choreography was the four-inch heels. A misplaced kick or wrong move could have led to an ankle sprain, or worse, a break. Thankfully, even with all the kicks and spins, she never broke an ankle.
5. Bane’s Underground Attack Was Symbolic Of Gotham’s Hidden Evil
In the beginning of Dark Knight Rises Gotham City’s crime rate is at a all-time low thanks to the “Dent Act.” Named after the late District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), the city has been victorious against crime. Except that act was based on a lie of Dent’s supposed heroism and the evil still lingered beneath the surface. An undercurrent of criminality and suffering still existed. “What was important in The Dark Knight Rises,” said Christopher Nolan, “and what David and Jonah and I talked a lot about, was the idea that the victory at the end of The Dark Knight is based on a lie, and therefore, over time, they are just papering over the cracks. The underlying theme of The Dark Knight Rises is ‘Truth will out,’ the idea that though things seem better in Gotham, there is an evil beneath the surface that is going to bubble up. At some point—at Jonah’s suggestion—we decided to literalize that metaphor and actually have a villain that is tunneling up from within the sewers of the city.” Bane’s subterranean attack on the city symbolizes the evil and corruption finally erupting to the surface.
6. “The Bat” Broke Nolan’s “No Flying Machines” Rule
On both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Christopher Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley said they wouldn’t do the Batplane. They felt it was unrealistic. The Batpod motorcycle while “hard to realize” was based on sound logic. Then Nolan told Crowley “We’re going to do flying machine in the Dark Knight Rises” Nathan was concerned. “My response was: ‘Okay, but we said we’d never do a flying machine. How do we make that believable for the audience? And does this mean we’re going to have to do it with CGI?’ CGI has improved tenfold since Batman Begins, and so there was no question that they’d be able to do a CGI Bat that looked real—but we still had to give it a foundation that would make the audience believe it was real, rather than us just making it look real. So my first job in the garage for The Dark Knight Rises was designing the Bat, and figuring out how something like that would exist in our world.” In the end he based it on various real-world vertical-takeoff-and-landing craft vehicles like Harrier Jump Jets and the V-22 Osprey.
7. Bane’s Mask Was Designed To Look Different From Batman’s Silhouette
While designing the mask using photographs of various bald actors like Marlon Brando and Terrance Stamp, Nolan and the designers realized his mask would be confusing. He needed a very different silhouette than Batman’s.
“A lot of the film was going to take place in the dark, with Bane and fighting,” costume designer Lindy Hemming explained, “and we couldn’t have one black lump of a head fighting another black lump of a head. And so, to make sure they would be easily identifiable we had to make those two silhouettes—Batman’s and Bane’s—look completely different.”
In the comic books Bane wore a Mexican-style wrestling mask known as a luchador. The designers began removing parts of the full head mask to make a simplified minimalist look. As the mask got smaller the tubing and devices became streamlined. “I’d been playing with all kinds of elaborate tubing and devices for the mask,” said Hemming, “but all of that had to be streamlined, because as we made the mask smaller, there was no place to put it all. So the mask was just reduced and reduced. I also wanted the mask to look animalistic, like something that might bite you, and so I referenced a lot of gorillas and spiders and the like.”
8. They Invented A Football Team
In the comic books, Gotham City has a wide-variety of sports teams. Two baseball teams: the “Gotham Knights” and the “Gotham Griffins.” A Basketball team: the “Gotham Guardsman.” An Ice Hockey team called “The Gotham Blades.” They even have two football teams called the “Gotham Wildcats” and “Gotham Knights.” For the movie they decided to create a new football team. They took the name “Gotham Rogues” based on the name of Batman’s core group of villains nicknamed the “Rogues Gallery.” This also presented the costume designers with a unique challenge: dressing the players, coaches and fans. “We actually had to invent an entire football team for Gotham,” said costume supervisor Dan Grace, “with uniforms that looked completely authentic and believable. We were very proud, in the end, to have created costumes for an entire football team, coaches, and twelve thousand extras
9. It Hurt Bane To Punch Batman
Tom Hardy did as much of his own fight choreography as he could, but he had a challenge with the fight scenes with Batman in costume. “They wanted to show that Batman was struggling as he fought Bane,” Tom Hardy noted. “I love doing fight choreography in films because you get to look really tough, but it’s not real and it doesn’t really hurt! Well… it hurts sometimes. When you hit somebody in a Batsuit made of rubber and plastic, it hurts your fists. But it looks really good. You just do what you can, and whatever you can’t do, the stuntmen do.” Considering how hard he was punching Bale, he’s one tough actor.
10. The Batcave Was Real
The Batcave was the only scene shot in a large sound-stage in Los Angeles. Normally, to make room for cameras and lighting, they create a partial set. However, the Batcave was a full 360 degree set to allow Nolan freedom to choose camera angles. Basically, they built a full-scale replica of the Batcave. Everyone in the crew felt the wonder of the set. Visual Effects Supervisor Paul Franklin said, “I was standing there, thinking: ‘Wow! We’re in the Batcave! It was thrilling, just because of the scope and scale of the set, and the fact that it was this iconic Batman setting. I got a kick from it every time I walked onto that set.”
11. It Took Eight months To Prepare For Twelve Days of Shooting In NY
New York City was an important shoot for The Dark Knight Rises based on the city’s history and the comic book parallels with Gotham City. But the logistics of shooting there were so complicated, that the producers and managers spent eight full months preparing for the twelve-day shoot. They shot in locations like Wall Street, the Brooklyn Bridge, and other locations. “It was a very daunting thing,” said Nolan, “but it actually went very smoothly. We found the authorities in New York to be extremely helpful, and we worked in a very efficient and reasonable way. Rather than try to do too much of New York, we just did those things that we felt would really benefit the scale of the movie. I’m very happy with what we were able to get there.” The police were especially happy to escort the full scale model of the flying “Bat” through the streets of New York on cranes.
12. Bane Punched The Wrong Actors On Wall Street
The massive clash on Wall Street culminated in a hand-to-hand fight between Bane and Batman. Tom Hardy said, with all the fighting actors in the scene, things got confusing. “It was a very confusing scene to shoot,” Tom Hardy said. “Bane is looking for Batman, and then comes down the stairs, has six or seven contacts with police officers, and faces off with Batman to beat him up. And Batman is whaling through the mercenaries to get to Bane and beat him up. When we shot it the first time, there were so many police officers in the scene that I didn’t know which seven I was supposed to hit! So I was just hitting anybody. And then, I was down in the crowd looking for Batman, and I couldn’t see him anywhere; he was twenty feet over to my right, and he couldn’t see me either. It was like, ‘Hey, Batman, I’m over here!’ ‘Oh, okay.’ So we had to reshoot that a few times.”
13. The Dark Knight Rises Was The Fastest Shoot Of All Nolan’s Batman Movies
The filming of the The Dark Knight Rises wrapped in New York on November 14, 2011. This was 118 days from the date of its start in May. This was eleven fewer days than it had taken to shoot Batman Begins, and nine fewer than The Dark Knight. “A lot of it had to do with the fact that everybody really knew their stuff by then,” noted co-producer Emma Thomas. “They’d done it all before. We’d made two movies before with the Batmobile, for example, so everyone knew what was involved in that. There were some new things added to it, but so much of it just worked by the time we got to this movie.”
14. They Tried To to Make the Fights Violent, But Not Gruesome
There are two major fights between Bane and Batman in the film. The most shocking of them was the scene when Bane breaks Batman’s back in the underground lair. This presented a challenge to the film to keep it from going too far. “It’s very difficult to come across with something that has been depicted in comic books,” said Struthers, “to bring it to the screen with real characters and actors. It’s difficult to get that kind of violence on screen without getting into undue violence. It had to read well on screen, without making the audience disgusted by it—and I think we achieved that. It’s pretty gruesome, but I don’t think it will completely turn off the audience.”
15. They Gave Away Prizes To Keep Extras From Leaving
The football stadium scene in Gotham City had twelve thousand extras. Most movies these days use CGI to fill in the crowd, but Nolan prefers to use real people. Unfortunately for the shoot, it’s not uncommon for half the extras to leave before filming is complete. Plus, the extras had to bundle up in scarves and heavy coats in the hundred-plus-degree heat of a Pittsburgh summer to make people believe the scene’s chilly late fall setting.
“It’s not uncommon to have five hundred extras at the start of the day, and have only two hundred by the middle.” co-producer Jordan Goldberg said. “For this scene in Pittsburgh, we needed more than ten thousand extras, and if a half or a third of them left by midday, we would have been in real trouble, because we were in a football stadium and everyone was going to be in view. But it was a tough order to expect thousands of people to stick around for a whole long day of shooting.”
To keep the crowd engaged between the long, boring hot times between filming they raffled off prizes like iPads and a car. They also had the Batmobile-like “Tumblers” show up even though they weren’t needed for the scenes.
Did you learn anything? What was your favorite scene in The Dark Knight Rises?
[Image Source: iwatchstuff.com]
Update: Corrected typos and grammatical errors. Thanks to those who pointed them out.
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