The Dark Knight

Production

Development

.mw-parser-output .quotebox{background-color:#F9F9F9;border:1px solid #aaa;box-sizing:border-box;padding:10px;font-size:88%;max-width:100%}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatleft{margin:0.5em 1.4em 0.8em 0}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatright{margin:0.5em 0 0.8em 1.4em}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.centered{margin:0.5em auto 0.8em auto}.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatleft p,.mw-parser-output .quotebox.floatright p{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .quotebox-title{background-color:#F9F9F9;text-align:center;font-size:larger;font-weight:bold}.mw-parser-output .quotebox-quote.quoted:before{font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;font-weight:bold;font-size:large;color:gray;content:" “ ";vertical-align:-45%;line-height:0}.mw-parser-output .quotebox-quote.quoted:after{font-family:"Times New Roman",serif;font-weight:bold;font-size:large;color:gray;content:" ” ";line-height:0}.mw-parser-output .quotebox .left-aligned{text-align:left}.mw-parser-output .quotebox .right-aligned{text-align:right}.mw-parser-output .quotebox .center-aligned{text-align:center}.mw-parser-output .quotebox cite{display:block;font-style:normal}@media screen and (max-width:360px){.mw-parser-output .quotebox{min-width:100%;margin:0 0 0.8em!important;float:none!important}} As we looked through the comics, there was this fascinating idea that Batman's presence in Gotham actually attracts criminals to Gotham, [it] attracts lunacy. When you're dealing with questionable notions like people taking the law into their own hands, you have to really ask, where does that lead? That's what makes the character so dark, because he expresses a vengeful desire.

—Nolan, on the theme of escalation[16]

Before the release of Batman Begins, screenwriter David S. Goyer wrote a treatment for two sequels which introduced the Joker and Harvey Dent.[59] His original intent was for the Joker to scar Dent during the Joker's trial in the third film, turning Dent into the supervillain Two-Face.[60] Goyer, who penned the first draft of the film, cited the DC Comics 13-issue comic book limited series Batman: The Long Halloween as the major influence on his storyline.[40] According to veteran Batman artist Neal Adams, he met with David Goyer in Los Angeles, and the story would eventually look to Adams and writer Denny O'Neil's 1971 story "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" that appeared in Batman #251, in which O'Neil and Adams re-introduced the Joker.[61] While initially uncertain of whether or not he would return to direct the sequel, Nolan did want to reinterpret the Joker on screen.[17] On July 31, 2006, Warner Bros. officially announced initiation of production for the sequel to Batman Begins titled The Dark Knight;[62] it is the first live-action Batman film without the word "Batman" in its title, which Bale noted as signaling that "this take on Batman of mine and Chris' is very different from any of the others".[63]

After much research, Nolan's brother and co-writer, Jonathan Nolan, suggested the Joker's first two appearances, published in the first issue of Batman (1940), as the crucial influences.[25] Christopher had Jonathan watch Fritz Lang's 1933 crime film The Testament of Dr. Mabuse prior to writing the Joker,[64][65] with the Joker resembling Mabuse's characteristics.[66] Christopher Nolan referred to Lang's film as "essential research for anyone attempting to write a supervillain".[67] Jerry Robinson, one of the Joker's co-creators, was consulted on the character's portrayal.[68] Nolan decided to avoid divulging an in-depth origin story for the Joker, and instead portray his rise to power so as to not diminish the threat he poses, explaining to MTV News, "the Joker we meet in The Dark Knight is fully formed ... To me, the Joker is an absolute. There are no shades of gray to him – maybe shades of purple. He's unbelievably dark. He bursts in just as he did in the comics."[69] Nolan reiterated to IGN, "We never wanted to do an origin story for the Joker in this film", because "the arc of the story is much more Harvey Dent's; the Joker is presented as an absolute. It's a very thrilling element in the film, and a very important element, but we wanted to deal with the rise of the Joker, not the origin of the Joker."[25] Nolan suggested Batman: The Killing Joke influenced a section of the Joker's dialogue in the film, in which he says that anyone can become like him given the right circumstances.[70] Nolan also cited Heat as "sort of an inspiration" for his aim "to tell a very large, city story or the story of a city": "If you want to take on Gotham, you want to give Gotham a kind of weight and breadth and depth in there. So you wind up dealing with the political figures, the media figures. That's part of the whole fabric of how a city is bound together."[25]

According to Nolan, an important theme of the sequel is "escalation", extending the ending of Batman Begins, noting "things having to get worse before they get better".[71] While indicating The Dark Knight would continue the themes of Batman Begins, including justice vs. revenge and Bruce Wayne's issues with his father,[72] Nolan emphasized the sequel would also portray Wayne more as a detective, an aspect of his character not fully developed in Batman Begins.[14] Nolan described the friendly rivalry between Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent as the "backbone" of the film.[69] He also chose to compress the overall storyline, allowing him to develop Dent into a criminal in The Dark Knight, thus giving the film an emotional arc the unsympathetic Joker could not offer.[70] Nolan acknowledged the title was not only a reference to Batman, but also the fallen "white knight" Harvey Dent.[73]

During rehearsals, Nolan and cast members were mesmerised by Heath Ledger's interpretation of the Joker. Aaron Eckhart recalled, "Chris looked at me and he said, 'Heath is doing something special.' And we all felt that way... When you have Gary Oldman, who's one of our greatest actors, and he's in awe of what Heath was doing, it showed what a performance Heath was giving."[74]

Filming

While scouting for shooting locations in October 2006, location manager Robin Higgs visited Liverpool, concentrating mainly along the city's waterfront. Other candidates included Yorkshire, Glasgow, and parts of London.[75] In August 2006, one of the film's producers, Charles Roven, stated that its principal photography would begin in March 2007,[76] but filming was pushed back to April.[77] For its release in IMAX theaters, Nolan shot four major sequences in that format, including the Joker's opening bank robbery and the car chase midway through the film, which marked the first time that a feature film had been even partially shot in the format.[78] Additionally, it was also the first Batman film to use 70 mm film stock.[79][80] The cameras used for non-IMAX 35 mm scenes were Panavision's Panaflex Millennium XL and Platinum.[81]

For fifteen years Nolan had wanted to shoot in the IMAX format, and he also used it for "quiet scenes which pictorially we thought would be interesting".[69] The use of IMAX cameras provided many new challenges for the filmmakers: the cameras were much larger and heavier than standard cameras, and produced noise which made recording dialogue difficult.[82] In addition, the cameras had short film loads ranging from 30 seconds to two minutes[82] and the cost of the film stock was much greater than standard 35 mm film.[83] Nevertheless, Nolan said that he wished that it were possible to shoot the entire film in IMAX: "if you could take an IMAX camera to Mount Everest or outer space, you could use it in a feature movie."[84] In addition, Nolan chose to edit some of the IMAX sequences using the original camera negative, which by eliminating generation loss, raised the film resolution of those sequences up to 18 thousand lines.[85]

Warner Bros. chose to film in Chicago for 13 weeks, because Nolan had a "truly remarkable experience" filming part of Batman Begins there.[86][87] Instead of using the Chicago Board of Trade Building as the location for the headquarters of Wayne Enterprises, as Batman Begins did,[88] The Dark Knight shows Wayne Enterprises as being headquartered in the Richard J. Daley Center.[89] While filming in Chicago, the film was given the false title Rory's First Kiss to lower the visibility of production, but the local media eventually uncovered the ruse.[90] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times commented on the absurdity of the technique, "Is there a Bat-fan in the world that doesn't know Rory's First Kiss is actually The Dark Knight, which has been filming in Chicago for weeks?"[91] Production of The Dark Knight in Chicago generated $45 million in the city's economy and created thousands of jobs.[92] For the film's prologue involving the Joker, the crew shot in Chicago from April 18, 2007 to April 24, 2007.[93][94] They returned to shoot from June 9, 2007, to early September.[92] Noticeably, unlike Batman Begins, less CGI was used to disguise Chicago. Many recognizable locations were used in the film, like the Sears Tower, Navy Pier, 330 North Wabash, the James R. Thompson Center, Trump International Hotel and Tower (which was still incomplete at the time of the film's release[95]), LaSalle Street, The Berghoff, Randolph Street Station, and Hotel 71. An old Brach's factory was used as Gotham Hospital. The defunct Van Buren Street post office doubles as Gotham National Bank for the opening bank robbery. Several sequences, including one car chase, were shot on the lower level of Wacker Drive.[89][96] The Marina City towers also appear in the background throughout the movie.[89]

Pinewood Studios, near London, was the primary studio space used for the production.[97] While planning a stunt with the Batmobile in a special effects facility near Chertsey, England in September 2007, technician Conway Wickliffe was killed when his car crashed.[98] The film is dedicated to both Ledger and Wickliffe.[33] The restaurant scene was filmed at the Criterion Restaurant in Piccadilly Circus, London.[99]

The following month in London at the defunct Battersea Power Station, a rigged 200-foot fireball was filmed, reportedly for an opening sequence, prompting calls from local residents who feared a terrorist attack on the station.[100] A similar incident occurred during the filming in Chicago, when an abandoned Brach's candy factory (which was Gotham Hospital in the film) was demolished.[101]

Filming took place in Hong Kong from November 6 to 11, 2007, at various locations in Central, including Hong Kong's tallest building at the time, the International Finance Centre, for the scene where Batman captures Lau.[102][103][104] Filming also took place on the Central to Mid-Levels covered escalator.[105] The shoot hired helicopters and C-130 aircraft.[102] Officials expressed concern over possible noise pollution and traffic.[103] In response, letters sent to the city's residents promised that the sound level would approximate noise decibels made by buses.[102] Environmentalists also criticized the filmmakers' request to tenants of the waterfront skyscrapers to keep their lights on all night to enhance the cinematography, describing it as a waste of energy.[103] Cinematographer Wally Pfister found the city officials a "nightmare", and ultimately Nolan had to create Batman's jump from a skyscraper digitally.[32]

Design

Costume designer Lindy Hemming described the Joker's look as reflecting his personality, in that "he doesn't care about himself at all"; she avoided designing him as a vagrant, but still made him appear to be "scruffier, grungier", so that "when you see him move, he's slightly twitchier or edgy".[17][28][28] Nolan noted, "We gave a Francis Bacon spin to [his face]. This corruption, this decay in the texture of the look itself. It's grubby. You can almost imagine what he smells like."[106] In creating the "anarchical" look of the Joker, Hemming drew inspiration from such countercultural pop culture artists as Pete Doherty, Iggy Pop, and Johnny Rotten.[107] Ledger described his "clown" mask, made up of three pieces of stamped silicone, as a "new technology", taking less than an hour for the make-up artists to apply, much faster than more-conventional prosthetics usually requires. Ledger also said that he felt he was barely wearing any make-up.[17][108]

Hemming and Ledger's Joker design has had an impact in popular and political culture in the form of the Barack Obama "Joker" poster, and has since become a meme in its own right.[109]

Designers improved on the design of the Batsuit from Batman Begins, adding wide elastic banding to help bind the costume to Bale, and suggest more sophisticated technology. It was constructed from 200 individual pieces of rubber, fiberglass, metallic mesh, and nylon. The new cowl was modeled after a motorcycle helmet and separated from the neck piece, allowing Bale to turn his head left and right and nod up and down.[110] The cowl is equipped to show white lenses over the eyes when the character turns on his sonar detection, which gives Batman the white eyed look from the comics and animation.[111] The gauntlets have retractable razors which can be fired.[110] Though the new costume is eight pounds heavier, Bale found it more comfortable and not as hot to wear.[14] The depiction of Gotham City is less gritty than in Batman Begins. "I've tried to unclutter the Gotham we created on the last film", said production designer Nathan Crowley. "Gotham is in chaos. We keep blowing up stuff, so we can keep our images clean."[16]

Effects

The film introduces the Batpod, which is a recreation of the Batcycle. Production designer Nathan Crowley, who designed the Tumbler for Batman Begins, designed six models (built by special effects supervisor Chris Corbould) for use in the film's production, because of necessary crash scenes and possible accidents.[112] Crowley built a prototype in Nolan's garage, before six months of safety tests were conducted.[14] The Batpod is steered by shoulder instead of hand, and the rider's arms are protected by sleeve-like shields. The bike has 508-millimeter (20-inch) front and rear tires, and is made to appear as if it is armed with grappling hooks, cannons, and machine guns. The engines are located in the hubs of the wheels, which are set 3​1⁄2 feet (1067 mm) apart on either side of the tank. The rider lies belly down on the tank, which can move up and down to dodge any incoming gunfire that Batman may encounter. Stuntman Jean-Pierre Goy doubled for Christian Bale during the riding sequences in The Dark Knight.[112] The Batpod was highly unstable for riding, and Goy was the only stuntman who could manage to balance the bike, even commenting that he had to "nearly un-learn how to ride a motorcycle" to manage riding the Batpod. Bale did insist on doing shots on the Batpod himself, but was prohibited by the team fearing his safety.[113]

Nolan designed Dent's scarred appearance in the film as one of the least disturbing, explaining, "When we looked at less extreme versions of it, they were too real and more horrifying. When you look at a film like Pirates of the Caribbean – something like that, there's something about a very fanciful, very detailed visual effect, that I think is more powerful and less repulsive."[114] Framestore created 120 computer-generated shots of Dent's visage. Nolan felt using make-up would look unrealistic, as it adds to the face, unlike real burn victims. Framestore acknowledged they rearranged the positions of bones, muscles and joints to make the character look more dramatic. For each shot, three 720-pixel HD cameras were set up at different angles on set to fully capture Aaron Eckhart's performance. Eckhart wore markers on his face and a prosthetic skullcap, which acted as a lighting reference. A few shots of the skullcap were kept in the film. Framestore also integrated shots of Bale and Eckhart into that of the exploding building where Dent is burned. It was difficult simulating fire on Eckhart because it is inherently unrealistic for only half of something to burn.[115]

Music

Batman Begins composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard returned to score the sequel. Composition began before shooting, and during filming Nolan received an iPod with ten hours of recordings.[116] Their nine-minute suite for the Joker, "Why So Serious?", is based around two notes. Zimmer compared its style to that of Kraftwerk, a band from his native Germany, as well as bands like The Damned.[117] When Ledger died, Zimmer felt like scrapping and composing a new theme, but decided that he could not be sentimental and compromise the "evil [Ledger's performance] projects".[118] Howard composed Dent's "elegant and beautiful" themes,[117] which are brass-focused.[116]


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