Tea Dark Knight Trilogy redefined what a superhero movie could be. Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, The Dark Knightand The Dark Knight Risesbrought a grittiness and realism to the genre that, at the time, was filled with the kind of camp colorfulness of movies like Fantastic Four and Daredevil. While there were attempts to elevate what a superhero movie could be, best exemplified in M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable in 2000, there wasn’t much in the medium that really challenged the status quo. That all changed with the release of Batman Begins in 2005.
While the conclusion to Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is often criticized for its story, plot contrivances, and overly expository dialogue, there is much to enjoy in the series finale. 10 years on from the release of The Dark Knight Risesand fans are still quibbling and quarrelling over the minute details of the movie, as well as discovering new and interesting facts about the film and its production history.
Allusions to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities
Director Christopher Nolan and his brother/screenwriter Jonathan Nolan stated in multiple interviews on the press junket for The Dark Knight Rises that it takes inspiration from the classic 1859 Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities. The movie draws inspiration from the text in direct and indirect ways. More directly, the closing lines of the text are quoted by Jim Gordon at the funeral of Bruce Wayne during the film’s conclusion: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known”.
The sacrifice made by the novel’s central hero Carton echoes the sacrifice made by Batman in the film. Indirectly, the theme of social unrest and the violence that comes with revolution in the movie is similarly linked with Dickens’ novel, which takes place at the height of the Reign of Terror that occurred in the aftermath of the French Revolution.
A Change in Bane’s Voice
One of the big criticisms leveled at the movie upon its release was that the villain Bane didn’t live up to expectations. Along with motivations and a plan that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, many viewers took issue with Bane’s voice. However, this voice was originally a little different, and more inaudible.
The prologue of the movie, featuring Bane’s takedown of a CIA plane, was attached to IMAX screenings of Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol. While the footage was positively received, many viewers bemoaned the fact that Bane’s dialogue was difficult to understand. The studio clearly listened to complaints, and Bane’s audio was re-dubbed for the general release, making him much easier to understand.
Tom Hardy In Heels
Playing the hulking villain of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises is definitely something that actor Tom Hardy threw himself into. Gaining 13kg of weight and muscle, Hardy’s physicality is felt throughout the movie, even as his face is partially obscured by the mask. One thing that Hardy couldn’t change in preparation for the role, is the height difference between himself and co-star Christian Bale.
Hardy, at 5’9”, is noticeably shorter than Bale (6′), and this was something that the filmmakers had to circumvent in order to give the illusion that Bane was altogether far more physically imposing than Batman. A mixture of specially designed shoes and the magic of cinematography was used to give the impression that Bane and Batman are of a similar height.
Joker Was Rumored To Appear
In the earliest days of its production, there were always rumors that Heath Ledger’s Joker would appear in some capacity, despite the actor’s untimely passing in 2008. Whether this would be done off-screen or through unused footage of the character was uncertain.
However, director Christopher Nolan shut down these rumors, stating that doing such would be a disservice to the memory of a great actor. Ledger’s own sister Katie Ledger, in an interview before the release of the documentary I Am Heath Ledgermentioned that he was excited to return to the character, stating “I know he had plans for another Batman”.
Appearing in the movie as Selina Kyle, Anne Hathaway donned the cat ears for the first live-action appearance of the character since Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. While Hathaway does a good job at portraying the moral ambiguity and physical prowess of the character, the movie does a good job at avoiding any utterance of her comic-book alias.
The name Catwoman is never said over the course of the movie by any character, with Hathaway’s character either referred to by her true name or simply “The Cat”.
Catwoman or Black Cat?
The Dark Knight Rises marked Anne Hathaway’s first appearance in a superhero movie, but, if things had worked out a little differently, that appearance could have come sooner. In a fascinating bit of movie history trivia, Anne Hathaway was originally slated to appear as the Marvel character Black Cat in Sam Rami’s canceled Spider Man 4.
While that movie would ultimately never get past the pre-production stages, Hathaway would eventually get to play another famous feline character in Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
Who Needs Visual Effects
One of the most notable and admired things about all of Christopher Nolan’s movies is his insistence on doing as much as possible in-camera. From the spinning hallway fight scene in Inceptionto the airport hangar explosion in tenet, Nolan frequently forgoes the exhaustive use of computer effects so visible in many modern blockbusters. While his movies do use computer effects, the effects always serve to enhance what has already been captured on camera.
As revealed in the documentary Behind The Scenes of The Dark Knight Trilogy (available on YouTube), Nolan used a comparatively small number of visual effects shots in The Dark Knight Rises, 500 in total. To put that in perspective, Avengers: Endgame had almost 2,700 visual effects shots.
Is That Your Tombstone Mr. Wayne?
With so many expectations and anticipation surrounding the closing chapter of The Dark Knight Trilogythe filmmakers went out of their way to ensure that the movie’s secrets stayed hidden until its release.
This included having Christian Bale on-set for the day of Bruce Wayne’s funeral scene and having a tombstone engraved with Miranda Tate to hide any possible leaks from occurring. The tactic worked, and secrets from the set of The Dark Knight Rises didn’t leak to the general public before the release of the movie in July 2012.
A More Detailed Backstory For Bane
Anyone who expected a more detailed backstory for Hardy’s villainous Bane in the The Dark Knight Rises was no doubt disappointed. Bane’s backstory is only hinted at in the theatrical version of the movie, but this wasn’t always the case.
Lindy Hemming, who worked as costume designer on the movie, described a deleted scene of Bane in an interview with GQ (via Vulture). According to her description of the scene, Bane is learning to fight in the same way Batman did in Batman Begins with a prototype of the mask he would ultimately wear permanently. Nolan, famously, doesn’t do extended cuts of his movies, but it would be great to see more backstory of Bane.
Warner Bros. Wanted The Riddler To Be The Villain (And They Wanted Leonardo DiCaprio To Play Him)
David S. Goyer, who worked on the story for The Dark Knight Rises, revealed in an interview with Empire magazine that in early conversations with Warner Bros. they suggested Riddler as a primary villain for the threequel. Nolan, who was working on Inception at the time, was given the suggestion by the top Warner Bros. executives, who almost suggested that Inception leading man Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the enigmatic Edward Nygma.
Whether or not Nolan gave these considerations serious thought is anyone’s guess. However, it is certainly true that in the early days of speculation regarding the movie, many fan-created posters appeared online with The Riddler center stage.
NEXT: The Dark Knight Rises: 5 Things It Got Right (& 5 It Got Wrong)
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