Director Defends Batman’s Darkness
Christopher Nolan discusses his reason for upping the ante in The Dark Knight.
The famed Batmobile is back with a vengeance in The Dark Knight – but director Christopher Nolan didn’t want to stop there.
He decided that Batman and audiences needed something new and fantastic, so he went to work in his garage at home – and came up with the Bat Pod, a high- powered, massively armed two-wheeler.
Nolan wanted the Caped Crusader to have a different means of transportation – “something very exotic and powerful-looking. But it’s definitely not a motorcycle.”
The Bat Pod has monster tires, just like the Batmobile, but it also carries heavy artillery – blast cannons, 50-calibre machine guns, even grappling hooks.
And it all happened in Nolan’s garage, a place where he constantly finds inspiration.
“We did a lot of the design work for The Dark Knight in my garage at home before we got too many people on the film. It keeps it a little more intimate and let’s us kind of explore ideas without having a massive payroll of people that we have to feed drawings to . . .”
In the case of the Bat Pod, Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley retreated to the garage to figure out what they wanted it to be like.
“We thought – what if you took an anti-aircraft gun and put it on wheels? That was the sort of design jumping-off point. And we built small models and then, still in my garage, we actually put out a full-size mock-up to show to the special effects guys.”
The special effects guys initially freaked out when they saw what the filmmakers had in mind: Crowley recently described the encounter as “the usual clash of design versus engineering.”
After recovering from their first sight of the Bat Pod, the special effects people turned to Nolan and Crowley and bluntly said: “You guys don’t know anything about motorbikes do you?”
“We had to admit that was true,” Nolan remembers. “But then we said, ‘But it looks great! Can’t you find a way that it could work?’ And they did. They built this thing for real and it really runs. But, in terms of full disclosure, there is only one person in the world who can ride it because it is extraordinarily difficult to ride and to steer and so forth.”
And that person, of course, is Christian Bale, the most essential ingredient in the new movie if Nolan was to come back and direct it.
By the time he unveiled Batman Begins three years ago, Nolan knew he wanted to add further instalments to the saga. Having established the traumatic origins of millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, the 37-year-old British filmmaker felt that it was time to up the ante, throw in the sociopathic figure of The Joker (Heath Ledger) and also introduce one of the most complex villains in the Batman mythology, Harvey “Two-Face” Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and let things rip.
Nolan says he became intrigued by the idea of “escalation” in the Batman universe – “the idea that, having established Batman as this heroic figure in Gotham who’s going to take Gotham back for the good people of the city, there was going to be an incredible criminal response to that . . . so what were the criminals going to come back with? That really manifests itself in the person of The Joker. That was really my interest – taking this story forward and seeing it expand out so that Batman’s internal struggle from the first film really takes on a city-wide aspect now.
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