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15 Things You Didn’t Know About Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy

Interesting facts from the “Dark Knight” trilogy by Christopher Nolan.

Jakub Piwoński

16 May 2023

dark knight trilogy posters

Awards, box office successes, famous acting performances, innovative realism – this is how we remember Christopher Nolan’s films about the adventures of Batman, or if you prefer, the Dark Knight Trilogy. Here are things you didn’t know about these three unique films that you’re sure to find interesting.

Christian Bale fell asleep while filming

christian bale the dark knight

You know the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce Wayne wakes up from the toxic high Scarecrow gave him and sees Lucius Fox and Alfred Pennyworth? It turns out that Christian Bale, as befits a good actor, got into the role too much. All he had to do was lie down and wait for the “Action” command, and it turned out that he had really drifted off. Only Michael Caine poked the actor after a while, commenting on the whole situation out loud: “Look – he’s fucking asleep!”

Jack Nicholson was furious that Heath Ledger walked in his shoes

heath ledger joker the dark knight

Until the release of The Dark Knight, Jack Nicholson led the way in the on-screen category of portraying Batman’s famous nemesis – the Joker. However, he grew up with strong competition in the form of Heath Ledger’s outstanding role. Interviews show that Jack Nicholson was not entirely happy with this turn of events. And to be exact, he wasn’t happy with the fact that the studio didn’t invite him to talk about a sequel in any way.

“They never asked me about a Joker sequel,” Nicholson said. “I know how to do it! Nobody ever asked me that. (…) Maybe it wasn’t a mistake. Maybe it was the right thing to do, but to be honest, I was furious.”

Nolan's realism was supposed to be a response to Schumacher's kitsch

the dark knight rises behind the scenes christopher nolan christopher bale tom hardy

The decision to present the new Batman films in a completely different spirit than before was not accidental. It was part of a specific idea by Christopher Nolan, which was inspired by the James Bond series. The director wanted the new Batman films to be believable cinema, which would stand in opposition to Joel Schumacher’s kitsch-camp dilogy and the fairy-tale tinged with horror emanating from Tim Burton’s dilogy. Perhaps it was because of persistence and consistency in pursuing this innovative take on realism that the films were successful, and Nolan managed to make history as the director of a trilogy based on a comic book, standing right next to Sam Raimi from a rival studio.

The movies are a patchwork of concepts taken from various comics and movies

the dark knight behind the scenes joker hearing

The first inspiration for the Dark Knight trilogy was Richard Donner’s 1978 film Superman. “What I loved about Superman was the way New York felt like New York, or rather Metropolis felt like New York,” explained Nolan. The film Gotham City, just like Metropolis, was supposed to be a city that could be recognised. A big inspiration in designing the city and its atmosphere was Blade Runner.

Key ideas and characters, particularly prominent in Batman Begins, were drawn from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One (1987), Blind Justice (1989) and The Man Who Fallen (1989). The plot of The Dark Knight is a combination of Batman #1 (1940), Batman #251 (1973), The Killing Joke (1988) and The Long Halloween (1996-1997). The Dark Knight Rises was primarily associated with Knightfall (1993), but there are also echoes of No Man’s Land (1999-2000) and Cult (1988) in the film.

The first films based on a comic book to record such a great financial success

the dark knight joker in a police car

Already Batman Begins, the fifth Batman film, but the first in Nolan’s trilogy, has brought considerable success. One, that the critics and the audience were satisfied, two, that it translated into earnings ($374 million worldwide). He was also nominated for an Oscar for cinematography. But with the release of The Dark Knight, the world went crazy for Nolan’s vision for good.

Heath Ledger’s unforgettable Joker helped The Dark Knight become the first Batman film to cross the $1 billion mark worldwide. It was the number one film at the box office for four consecutive weeks, and its grossing of nearly $535 million in the US for a long time placed it high among the highest-grossing films of all time. The film also won two Oscars and was highly rated on IMDb for a long time.

Warner Bros. was sued by a Turkish mayor for using the name "Batman"

the dark knight christian bale on a roof

Has anyone here inhaled Scarecrow gas? Huseyin Kalkan, former mayor of the city of Batman in Turkey, has filed a lawsuit against Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. for using the name “Batman” without permission. Yes, it really happened.

Kalkan explained: “There is only one Batman in the world. American producers used the name of our city without telling us.” As absurd as it sounds, the mayor swore that in his brave intentions he would not let go. Ultimately, the lawsuit was never filed. This trick can today be explained by the desire to arouse publicity in a little-known place.

Filming was postponed due to Marion Cotillard's pregnancy

the dark knight rises Marion Cotillard

Christopher Nolan really wanted Marion Cotillard to play the role of Talia al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises. “She’s so good you don’t want to waste that talent,” Nolan said.

Cotillard was obviously thrilled at the prospect of working with Nolan, but there was a problem. The actress became pregnant just before the planned start of filming. “I called Chris and said, ‘My God, I can’t do this!’

Nolan, however, was adamant in his resolve. He had no intention of using another actress, so he adjusted the shooting schedule so that Cotillard could give birth and return to shooting scenes with Miranda Tate. “She gave birth and was back on set almost immediately,” Nolan explained. “She’s like Superwoman.”

Christian Bale donned the Val Kilmer costume from Batman Forever

Even before writing the script for Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan met with Christian Bale to discuss how to present his version of the Batman. For one audition for the role, the actor had to wear the same Batman costume that Val Kilmer wore in Batman Forever.

“They dressed me in a Val Kilmer outfit. It didn’t even fit me well. I stood in it and said, “I feel like an idiot,” Bale later recalled.

Christian Bale had to put on almost 50 kilos for the role of Batman

christian bale batman begins weigh gain

Christian Bale is an actor who is famous for his ability to radical metamorphoses. For example, there is a 50 kilo difference between the role in The Mechanic, in which he played the skinny Trevor Reznik, and the role of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. Even better, Bale accomplished this transformation in just six months.

When Bale appeared on the set of the Batman movie, he weighed almost 100 kilograms. Christopher Nolan was surprised. “I saw the look on Chris’s face. He looked at me and it was like, “Oh Christ, what has this guy done?” recalls the actor. Some members of the film’s crew taunted Bale by calling him Fatman instead of Batman. Later, Bale toned down a bit and managed to lose 20 kilos to transform himself into the Bruce Wayne we know.

The Joker is the only comic book character whose on-screen performance won an Oscar twice

the dark knight hath ledger joker

Heath Ledger’s daring, nuanced role in The Dark Knight once again made the Joker famous around the world, contributing to the film’s box office success and winning the first acting Oscar for a comic book film. As if that wasn’t enough, the character of the Joker turned out to be happy also in the next approach. One of the next Joker actors, Joaquin Phoenix, also earned a nomination, which he turned into a golden knight. This, of course, was not the case with any other comic book film or any other comic book character. The public loves the Joker. Actors love to play him.

Christopher Nolan in The Dark Knight paid homage to Cesar Romero

the dark knight joker vs. joker cesar romero heath ledger

The prologue of The Dark Knight features a thrilling bank robbery scene featuring the Joker and his thugs. Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are free of both Schumacher’s kitsch and the early 1960s film adaptations. But the director hid a reference to the oldest Batman in the robbery scene. The appearance of one clown mask closely resembles the mask Cesar Romero wore during his first appearance as the Joker in an episode of the Batman TV series.

For the first time, IMAX cameras were used in a feature film

christopher nolan imax camera

The Dark Knight was the first feature film to be shot with IMAX cameras. This then new technology is used today in almost every high-budget show, greatly improving the quality of the experience. Previously, it was only used in documentaries.

The Riddler and other enemies are hidden in the movies

the dark knight batman flying

In The Dark Knight, we can meet the greedy character of Coleman Reese, who learns the identity of Batman and tries to blackmail Lucius Fox. In this character, fans look for a reference to the Riddler. Mr. Reese is phonetically arranged in “mysteries” – “secrets”, which is a clear reference to Edward Nygma’s surname – E. Nygma read together is also a mystery.

In The Dark Knight Rises, in turn, the hidden character of Roland Daggett, a sinister businessman from the animated TV series, is hidden. In the film, however, his name was changed for disguise. Ben Mendelsohn’s character functions as John Daggett.

As if that wasn’t enough, the trilogy also features references to Mr. Freeze and Killer Crock – find them yourself!

Christian Bale is still the youngest actor to play Batman

the dark knight christian bale morgan freeman

Christian Bale was just 30 when filming began on Batman Begins. To this day, he is therefore the youngest actor to play the role of the Dark Knight. By comparison, Robert Pattison, whose visibly rejuvenated interpretation of the Batman we’ll see next year, was 34 years old when the production of the The Batman began. For comparison: Adam West, who played Batman in the 1960s, was over forty, as was Ben Affleck in Zack Snyder’s film. Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s first Batman 38, Val Kilmer in Batman Forever was 35, exactly the same age as George Clooney in Batman & Robin.

It's no accident that Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini

the dark knight lamborghini

Bruce Wayne is known for his glamor. Nolan managed to show this skillfully, giving the character ownership of yachts, restaurants and a Lamborghini. In one scene of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini Murciélago. However, the choice of this car brand was not accidental – Murciélago in Spanish means bat.

Jakub Piwoński

Jakub Piwoński

Cultural expert, passionate about popular culture, in particular films, series, computer games and comics. He likes to fly away to unknown, fantastic regions, thanks to his fascination with science fiction. Professionally, however, he looks back more often, thanks to his work as a museum promotion specialist, investigating the mysteries of the beginnings of cinematography. His favorite film is "The Matrix", because it combines two areas close to his heart - religion and martial arts.

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