Before Christopher Nolan took over, director Darren Aronofsky was attached to make a Batman movie based on the graphic novel "Batman: Year One" and have the author Frank Miller write the screenplay. By 2003 there was a first draft screenplay with story boards, which are properties of AOL Time Warner. Warner's decision for not producing the film is unknown, but based on the details that have since leaked out, it would probably have to do with the screenplay, which strayed a considerable amount from the source material, making Alfred an African-American mechanic named "Big Al," the Batmobile being a souped-up Lincoln Towncar, and Bruce Wayne being homeless, among other things. This is all detailed in David Hughes' book "Tales from Development Hell."
The Batmobile, 9 feet wide and 16 feet long, has a top speed of 106 miles per hour and can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 6 seconds. The engine is a 5.7 liter V8 Chevy. It runs on unleaded gas and can do about 7 miles per gallon. It has four 44-inch tires at the rear, made by Interco Tire Corp, while the front is covered in jagged plates of armor. It was designed and built by Chris Corbould and Andrew Smith at Shepperton Studios in England. This Batmobile was built from the ground up and is estimated to be worth half a million pounds. It was designed by mashing together several different off-the-shelf model kits; its construction was so exacting to the model that they even duplicated the blobs of excess glue.
The name of the commissioner on the film is "Loeb". However, this is NOT a reference to comic book writer Jeph Loeb, author of the graphic novels "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory", but rather simply the canonical name of the Gotham City police commissioner when Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham. This is shown in Frank Miller's Year One, which actually influenced both "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory" and was published nearly a full decade before either of these.
David S. Goyer said that the graphic novels "The Long Halloween" and "Dark Victory" by Jeph Loeb were a huge influence on his screenplay. When he was asked the question, "What about Frank Miller's "Year One"?", he replied, "Our story is not "Year One"." An early draft of David S. Goyer's script leaked onto the Internet in April 2004.
During interviews with Christian Bale whilst promoting the movie, he continued using the American accent he'd adopted to play Bruce Wayne/Batman. He explained that he didn't want potential moviegoers to be confused about why Batman, an American institution, was being played by an Welshman. However, this may not be the whole truth, as Bale rarely gives an interview in his native Welsh accent. It is believed that this is because Bale is always using whichever accent is required for his next role, which reflects his commitment as a method actor.
When the prisoners are all released from Arkham, briefly visible is Mr. Zsasz, a serial killer from the comics with tally marks scarred into his skin, representing each of his victims. Mr. Zsasz also appears in the courtroom in the beginning of the film where he is being transferred to Arkham Asylum by Dr. Crane.
Contrary to the previous Batman films, in which the Batcave was realized as a combination of a live set and matte paintings (done either by hand or computer), no visual effects were used in this film to show the Batcave. The entire Batcave is instead a massive full-scale set.
In the movie, Bruce Wayne is shown arriving at a fancy hotel in a Lamborghini Murciélago. The word "murciélago" is Spanish for bat (although the car itself was named after a prized bull owned by Don Antonio Miura, who had nothing to do with bats).
The sets were built in the Admiralty Hangar No. 2 at Cardington, one of the largest hangars in the world. The floor area is the size of 16 Olympic-size swimming pools. The No. 2 shed was assembled at the site in 1928 to house the British airship R100.
The license plates for the Gotham related cars were designed in the same style as the Illinois state license plates. This was done to stay consistent with other vehicle license plates while filming the car chases in Chicago.
The title went through many changes. First, it was known as "Batman 5". It became "Batman: The Frightening" for a while. To prevent script leaks, they were titled "Intimidation Game" to throw off the public, before settling on "Batman Begins".
Crime boss Carmine "The Roman" Falcone was a prominent character in Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's comic book Batman: Year One. His story was continued and resolved in Jeph Loeb's comic book epic The Long Halloween.
On 22 May 2004 filming took place at Senate House (a property belonging to the University of London, just off Russell Square). The front of the building was made up as the Gotham City courts, complete with New York-style taxis and Gotham Police Department cars.
While shooting on the streets of Chicago, a person accidentally crashed into the Batmobile. The driver was apparently drunk, and said he hit the car in a state of panic, believing the Dark Knight's vehicle to be an invading alien spacecraft.
While filming in Lower Wacker Drive, in Chicago, Illinois, the filmmakers were so concerned for the care of the Batmobile, that they told the stunt driver to take as much time as he needed to make any move. Therefore, when it came time to back the Batmobile up, they went so slow as to cause traffic jams that had to be reported on the news. Simply moving the Batmobile around Chicago took numerous police as well as caused traffic jams where ever they went.
Henri Ducard was created by Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm. The character was in the movie's original script, however was dropped. Hamm later during his comic book writing debut on Detective Comics series incorporated the character into the Batman mythos.
At the time of this film's release, Forbes Magazine did a breakdown of how much it would actually cost to become Batman. The magazine estimated that total expenses in US dollars would be around $3.5 million.
All the big name cast members were initially not told that the movie was a Batman movie as the script they were sent was titled "The Intimidation Game". Michael Caine commented that when he first saw the title, he assumed the script was some kind of gangster movie.
Since Alfred's sense of duty and loyalty towards Bruce Wayne reminded him of the comradeship that exists in the military, Sir Michael Caine based his character's voice on that of a colonel he knew when he was in the army as an 18-year-old.
A possible influence (apart from 'The Dark Knight Returns' graphic novel) in the Tumbler's design is the F-117 Nighthawk, sharing similar features, specifically the use of odd angles around the body used for stealth (although the Tumbler might use them to disperse kinetic energy from bullets and explosives) and almost jet-black color.
The key "combination" that Bruce plays on the piano to open the secret entrance to the Bat Cave is comprised of three, two-note chords, starting three octaves above middle-C. The keys he presses are D-E, D-E (up an octave), and G-A. However, the tones heard in the soundtrack are actually a half-step down from the correct tones for the notes he plays. This may simply be a post-production soundtrack adjustment or variance, but could also be that the piano was tuned a half-step down, which is sometimes done on older pianos to reduce the 18-20 tons of string tension stress on their framing.
The UK censors, the BBFC, viewed the film at the request of the distributors during post-production. The sound mix was incomplete. Warners were keen to get a 12A rating (to match the US PG-13) and the BBFC advised them that in order to avoid a higher rating, "care should be taken with the final sound mix so as not to play up the sound of blows and to avoid more bone crunching sound effects" in a number of scenes. Because the BBFC examiners did not advise the distributors to specifically reduce any of the sound effects, as the sound mix was incomplete at the time of the viewing, this film was passed 12A with no cuts made. This same version was released worldwide, with the cuts discussed in full on the SBBFC website for students.
When Warner Bros. was considering "Batman: The Frightening" as the title, a script was released online that was widely believed to be official. Two writers, Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias, were credited on the draft, but both denied writing it. The author was later discovered to be Brandon Gaines.
For the IMAX version, some of the theatres running older IMAX equipment, the credits for the movie wouldn't fit on the platters. IMAX and the theatres had to get special permission from Warner Brothers to show the movie without the credits.
During production, DC Comics commissioned well known Batman artists to give their interpretation of the Dark Knight. The results were shown to Christopher Nolan and the cast to help give them a better idea of where the comic artists were coming from. Among the artists were James Jean, Jock, Tommy Lee Edwards and John Paul Leon.
Early work on the script and the production design was conducted in the back of Christopher Nolan's garage. During the writing process, Nolan and David S. Goyer sometimes took walks near the site of the original Batcave from Batman.
Due to his part in The Machinist (aka The Machinist), Christian Bale was vastly underweight (about 120 pounds on his 6 foot+ frame) when he was under consideration for the part. After being cast, he was told to become as "big as you could be" by Christopher Nolan. Bale underwent a dietary and exercise regimen and ending up weighing about 220 pounds (about 40 pounds above his normal weight). It was decided that Bale had became too large (friends of his on the film's crew dubbed him "Fatman") and he quickly shed about 20 pounds to have leaner, more muscular frame.
Production designer Nathan Crowley said that the design of the Batmobile was largely influenced from the design seen in Frank Miller's graphic novel "The Dark Knight Returns". The incarnation of the Batmobile was given the nickname "The Tumbler" by both filmmakers and Miller.
In an interview with Moviefone, Christian Bale said that he became interested in playing Batman after a friend of his loaned him the graphic novel "Arkham Asylum" (by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean) in 2000. After he read it, he told his agent that if anyone was making another Batman movie, he wanted in.
Batman's journey to Tibet, and his ninja training, were both elements introduced into the comic book by writer James Owsley in Batman #431 (March, 1989). The series editor, Denny O'Neil, made the issue part of the Batman Writers Bible that he would hand out to each new writer on the series, thus confirming the story's place in canon.
Instances with just one or two bats in the shot (such as the single bat gone astray inside Wayne's mansion) uses real bats, but each scene with a flock of bats had to be done using CG bats, since it was decided too difficult to control that many bats at once.
The cape was made with a technique called electrostatic flocking, taught to the crew by the British Ministry of Defense and normally used to decrease the night-vision visibility of objects. Nylon parachute fabric was brushed with glue and covered with fine hair-like material. An electrostatic current was then passed under the material, creating a dark sheen while maintaining the billowing appearance.
This is the first Batman movie in which the name of Bruce Wayne (Batman) is not changed for the Spanish version to Bruno Díaz. The name Bruno Díaz has been used for the Latin American audience since the early Batman Comics that come to South America back in the 50's
Christian Bale revealed in interviews in 2009 that in his first ever scene with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman (one involving Bale waking up in bed to find them waiting there), he fell asleep after getting ready for the scene. Bale described waking up to find Michael Caine poking him the ribs, saying "Look at that! He's bloody fallen asleep".
Michael Caine took his screen name from The Caine Mutiny, which featured José Ferrer, uncle of previous Batman George Clooney, and the first actor considered for the role of the Joker in the 1960s television series.
Christian Bale having lost 65 pounds to play his anorexic 120 pound character in The Machinist, had to regain that weight and then some to play the muscular Batman/Bruce Wayne. Bale gained 100 pounds in 6 months, describing the experience as an unbearable physical ordeal.
First live action appearance by Scarecrow, a villain dating back to Batman's earliest comic stories. While considered for the 1960s TV series he was never used, and was to be the main villain in the fifth Burton/Schumaker film that was shelved.
Ashton Kutcher was in heavy considerations for the role of Bruce Wayne and was reportedly the studio executives' choice for the same. Nolan however, was not enthusiastic about the idea of casting Kutcher in the role which prompted Warner Bros. studio heads to drop the idea. Kutcher's casting would have lead to a controversy similar to the one that sparked the 1989 Batman movie when Michael Keaton, a comic actor, was cast as Batman (see Batman Trivia).
With this film, Christopher Nolan would begin the practice of showing all of his movie's credits at the end of the movie including the movie's title. Although Nolan's Following followed a similar practice of showing credits in the end, it did show the title of the movie at the start.
According to an interview with production designer Nathan Crowley, the waterfall guarding the entrance to the Batcave was originally meant to cover a solid rock wall, which Batman's enemies would slam into when attempting the jump in. The rock wall would have been opened with a button inside the Batmobile, but the sequence was cut before filming began.
The movie references the comic, Batman Year One by Frank Miller with Detective Flass, the corrupt cop, being partnered with James Gordon. It further follows the storyline by showing Gordon refusing to turn in the corrupt cops.
In a 2012 interview, Christopher Nolan admitted that he invented the line "rub your chest, your arms will take care of themselves," spoken by Henri Ducard/R'as Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) after Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) falls into the frozen lake, and that it has no scientific basis, adding that he imagined "Boy Scouts everywhere freezing to death" because they took the advice literally thanks to Neeson's convincing delivery.
The first and only Batman film in the Nolan Trilogy to utilize "flash fighting". Christopher Nolan has said that the idea was to convey Batman's strikingly fast fighting abilities and make him seem quick and a formidable opponent. It was not however, utilized in the sequels.
A significant portion of the main cast consists of European actors performing American accents for their parts. Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) is Welsh; Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon) is English; Cillian Murphy (Dr. Jonathan Crane) is Irish; Tom Wilkinson (Carmine Falcone) is English; Rutger Hauer (Earle) is Dutch; Linus Roache (Thomas Wayne) is English; Michael Caine (Alfred) is English; Liam Nesson (Ra's Al Ghul) is Irish.
Initially Christopher Nolan wanted to cast Gary Oldman as a villain and Chris Cooper as Gordon. Cooper, however, wanted to spend more time with his family so Nolan hit on the unusual idea of casting Oldman as a character who was not a baddie.
When Christopher Nolan asked Hans Zimmer to provide the score, Zimmer asked him if he could also bring on board James Newton Howard. The two composers had been meaning to work together for some time and this felt like the perfect project for two composers with its bi-polar lead character.
Christopher Nolan would generally shoot the fight scenes with the actors doing as much of the stunts as physically possible (in the case of Christian Bale and Liam Neeson, that was pretty much all of them). He would then shoot the same fight sequences with the stuntmen for coverage.
Christian Bale decided early on in the audition process that he didn't want to play Batman straight but to play him as a rage-filled monster, figuring that it might polarize Christopher Nolan. To his delight, Nolan was thrilled with his off-kilter interpretation.
Christopher Nolan, David S. Goyer and Nathan Crowley set up shop in Nolan's garage to work on the screenplay. They had to vacate the premises on the day that the cleaner came as the garage simply became too hot with the washing machine and drier going.
First Batman movie in which Gotham City scenes were filmed on location in an actual city as opposed to on a set, or images via stock footage. While the on location scenes were filmed in Chicago, Gotham City of the comics is based on New York City, and in fact the name Gotham is a colloquial for New York.
The female lead from Following, Christopher Nolan's first film. She plays a guest in the restaurant, and has the second most lines of any female in the movie, second only to Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Despite "not being "Year One", there are a few references to Year One. The line "You're a good cop. One of the few," Batman using sonar (hidden in his boot heel) to call on the bats while being attacked by police, and the ending (although done differently) where Batman's "next case" is The Joker).
The Joker playing card presented to Batman at the end of the film is replica of the Joker Card from the 1989 graphic novel "Arkham Asylum" by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. It carries an evidence label, this label reads that the officer who discovered it was a J. Kerr, one of the Joker's favorite aliases (Joe Kerr) in the comic books.
Ducard's line "But is Ra's Al Ghul immortal?" is an in-joke, since the comic book version of the character is over 600 years old (and has been killed and resurrected many times) thanks to a device called the Lazarus Pit. Christopher Nolan chose to eschew all fantasy elements from his version of Batman.