I remember back in 2005 when a friend and I walked to our local IMAX theater the weekend that Batman Begins came out, and calmly bought a ticket for the show. We didn’t order it online weeks in advance, and there was no lineup at the theater. Batman Begins was a hit, yes, but it was The Dark Knight that changed everything. That’s when director Christopher Nolan established his take on the Batman story as the definitive one, arguably across all mediums. We don’t have to tell you that in a week, The Dark Knight Rises swoops into theaters. Warner Bros. has made sure you already know, spending what has to be a record amount on marketing. And with the notion that the film might be disappointment all but gone, (early buzz has been deafening), anticipation has reached a boiling point. And you know what that means, right? Listicle! Below are some things to consider while you count down the hours, minutes, seconds, to July 20.
Probably didn’t think there was a link between generational summer blockbusters and books you read the crib notes too in high school, did you? Well, that’s because there’s not, except in this case. In addition to drawing elements from the Batman comics Knightfall, The Dark Knight Returns, and No Man’s Land, Christopher Nolan and his screenwriter brother Jonathan are on record saying that The Dark Knight Rises is inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.
Variety reported back in 2003 that, along with eventual Bruce Wayne Christian Bale, other actors tested for the role included Billy Crudup, Hugh Dancy, Joshua Jackson, and Billy Zane. Okay, jk, jk, they never tested Billy Zane, but they did test Jake Gyllenhaal, well before big sister Maggie took over as Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight.
The best thing about The Dark Knight was Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker. Apparently, Warner Bros. was pushing Nolan to include the Riddler as the villain in the third movie, and to cast Leonardo Dicaprio in the role, in an effort to equal or top the Joker’s scary success.
But Christopher Nolan chose the ultra-intelligent, ridiculously strong Bane, because he wanted audiences to “Fear for Batman’s physical safety.”
And fear we should, because Tom Hardy went titanic for the role. The actor bulked up by 30 pounds to play the man who broke Batman’s back.
Hardy’s not the only one who’s put his body through the ringer for Acting’s sake. Before Christian Bale started filming Batman Begins, he was on a diet of apples and coffee, playing the deathly thin titular character in The Machinist. He then he gained 100 pounds (40 pounds of of which he would later have to lose) in order to play Batman. He would do something kind of similar between his Academy Award-winning turn as The Fighter‘s relatively emaciated Dicky Eklund and the start of filming for The Dark Knight Rises.
Speaking of weight, the film that IMAX theaters will be using to show The Dark Knight Rises is split between 50 reels, and weighs about 600 pounds.
Word to the motion sick, though: some IMAX movies can give you motion sickness because of the massive, curved screen, and The Dark Knight Rises has over an hour of footage shot on IMAX cameras.
Christopher Nolan is famously tight-lipped about his movies. He even delivered the script for Batman Begins to Michael Caine in person, and waited with Caine’s wife while the actor read it.
What do we know about The Dark Knight Rises? Well for one thing, 8 years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight.
The story also doesn’t reference the series’ most iconic villain to date, Heath Ledger’s Joker, at all. Nolan explained the decision to Empire thusly: “That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight. I didn’t want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. That seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne’s story. Not involving The Joker.”
Whatever happens at the end of The Dark Knight Rises gave screenwriter David S. Goyer a lump in his throat. “The final scene of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is exactly [the] scene we talked about [when Christopher Nolan and I started the trilogy with ‘Batman Begins’]. It remained completely unchanged. We both knew in our hearts that we were onto something special. I have to tell you, having finally seen everything strung together a little while ago and seeing that scene, I got a complete lump in my throat.”
This is absolutely the last batman movie for Christopher Nolan. He won’t be directing or producing any others, and he won’t be helping out with Warner Bros. planned Justice League movie. Nor will there be any kind of crossover between Christopher Nolan’s Batman and the Superman movie he also has a hand in, Man of Steel. So audiences don’t have any cool after-the-credits scenes to look forward to after The Dark Knight Rises, a la Marvel. Crud.
U.S. senator Patrick Leahy (D -VT) is a pretty huge Batman fan who’s made cameos in Batman: The Animated Series, Batman & Robin, and The Dark Knight (remember when he almost got his mouth slashed open by the Joker?). He has a cameo in The Dark Knight Rises as well.
And he’s not the only politician in the movie: Westeros schemer/white mayor of Baltimore Aidan Gillen also has a small role.