Ra's Al Ghul is Arabic for "The Demon's Head". This refers to his position at the height of the Brotherhood of the Demon, a.k.a. The League of Shadows. Al-Ghul translates to The Ghoul in Arabic, but generally is summarized as Demon.
The language used by Ken Watanabe is neither Japanese, nor Tibetan, nor in fact any known language at all. It's supposedly some gibberish he says he made up himself for the role, though the subtitles list it as Urdu.
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.
Christian Bale revealed in interviews, in 2009, that in his first ever scene with Sir 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 Sir Michael Caine poking him in the ribs, saying "Look at that! He's bloody fallen asleep".
Before shooting began, Christopher Nolan invited the whole film crew to a private screening of Blade Runner (1982). After the film he said to the whole crew, "This is how we're going to make "Batman"."
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.
The film inspired James Bond Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to reboot the James Bond franchise, and reinvent the character of British Secret Agent James Bond, and making him much darker, and more realistic with Casino Royale (2006).
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.
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.
Since Alfred's sense of duty and loyalty towards Bruce Wayne reminded him of military comradeship, 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.
None of the big name cast members were initially told that the movie was a Batman movie, as the script they were sent was titled "The Intimidation Game". Sir Michael Caine commented that when he first saw the title, he assumed the script was some kind of gangster movie.
During interviews with Christian Bale while 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.
Due to his part in The Machinist (2004), Christian Bale was vastly underweight (about 120 pounds on his six 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 six month dietary and exercise regimen, and ending up weighing about 220 pounds (about forty pounds above his normal weight). It was decided that Bale had become too large (friends of his on the film's crew dubbed him "Fatman") and he quickly shed about twenty pounds to have leaner, more muscular frame. Bale described the experience as an unbearable physical ordeal.
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.
Heath Ledger was considered for the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman during the film's early development before being cast as The Joker in the sequel The Dark Knight (2008), a role that won him an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Hans Zimmer named the tracks in the soundtrack after types of Bats. The first letters of tracks 4-9 in the soundtrack, spell "BATMAN". ("Barbastella", "Artibeus", "Tadarida", "Macrotus", "Antrozous" and "Nycteris")
First live-action appearance by Scarecrow, a villain dating back to Batman's earliest comic stories. While considered for the 1960s television series, he was never used, and was to be the main villain in the fifth Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher film that was shelved.
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 U.S. dollars would be around 3.5 million.
(at around 19 mins) 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 (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.
Christopher Nolan would generally shoot the fight scenes with the actors doing as many 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.
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".
(at around 1h 8 mins) 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).
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 CGI bats, since it was decided to be too difficult to control that many bats at once.
The 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.
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 Batman (1989) movie when Michael Keaton, a comic actor, was cast as Batman.
The Batmobile, nine feet wide, and sixteen feet long, has a top speed of 106 miles per hour, and can accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in six seconds. The engine is a 5.7 liter V8 Chevy. It runs on unleaded gasoline, and can do about seven 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.
Christian Bale had read some of the graphic novels long before he played Batman. He said that in 2000, a friend lent him a copy of the graphic novel "Arkham Asylum," which he thoroughly enjoyed, and made him wonder why that version of Batman hadn't been portrayed on screen. In preparing for the role, Bale said he made a conscious effort to avoid watching the performances of previous Batman actors, so he could approach the character from a fresh perspective.
During filming of the scene, where Batman is being towed by a train through the streets of Gotham, so much steam was used, that it would "rain" on the cast and crew for several minutes after each take.
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 (1966).
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.
(at around 1h 21 mins) This is the only Batman movie (both live action and animated) to celebrate Bruce Wayne's birthday. He turns 30 - you can see a big '30' in the background when Rachel comes by to give him his present.
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 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.
With the exception of the pier scene in Batman: The Movie (1966), this is the 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 City.
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.
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.
While filming on 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.
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 50s.
When Christopher Nolan asked Hans Zimmer to provide the score, Zimmer asked him if he could also bring James Newton Howard on board. 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.
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.
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.
Despite the film's darkness, Christopher Nolan wanted to make the film appeal to a wide age range. "Not the youngest kids obviously, I think what we've done is probably a bit intense for them, but I certainly didn't want to exclude the sort of ten to twelve year olds, because as a kid I would have loved to have seen a movie like this." Because of this, nothing gory or bloody was filmed.
While this is the second Batman film to get a "thumbs up" from Roger Ebert, it's the first live-action Batman movie to get a "thumbs up" from him, since the first one was the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993).
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."
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 Goyer's script leaked onto the Internet in April 2004.
(at around 46 mins) Psychologist Dr. Robin S. Rosenberg commended the film for portraying the psychological concept of "exposure" in the scene where Bruce Wayne is in a cave surrounded by bats. He first becomes scared and panicky and slowly calms down and afterwards his fear of bats is gone.
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.
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.
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.
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 U.S. 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.
(at around 1h 35 mins) Batman rescues Rachel Dawes, and is evading the police with the Batmobile/Tumbler on I-17 in Gotham City. The city fictitiously exists on the eastern seaboard of the United States. The real I-17 is 146 miles long, and exists entirely in the state of Arizona, linking Phoenix to Flagstaff.
A common idea in the comics is that Bruce saw a Zorro film with his parents before they were murdered. Christopher Nolan explained that by ignoring that idea - which he stated is not found in Batman's first appearances - it emphasized the importance of bats to Bruce, and that becoming a superhero is a wholly original idea on his part. It is for this reason, Nolan believes other DC characters do not exist in the universe of his film; otherwise, Wayne's reasons for taking up costumed vigilantism would have been very different.
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 (1998) followed a similar practice of showing credits in the end, it did show the title of the movie at the start.
The key "combination" that Bruce plays on the piano to open the secret entrance to the Bat Cave is comprised of three pairs of notes, 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.
Lieutenant James Gordon is one of the few Gotham City Police Officers not on the take from mob boss Carmine Falcone. However, in Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), Gary Oldman portrays a corrupt police officer who, not only accepts bribes from, but does bidding for, a mafia Don named Falcone.
(at around 1h 3 mins) During Batman's first appearance in the suit crime boss Carmine Falcone asks "What the hell are you?" To which Batman replies "I'm Batman!" In Tim Burton's Batman (1989) film when Batman first appears a villain asks "What are you?" To which Batman replies "I'm Batman!"
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. Additionally unlike the comics, Loeb is not a corrupt officer in the film.
Henri Ducard was created by Batman (1989) 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.
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.
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 sixteen Olympic-size swimming pools. The No. 2 shed was assembled at the site, in 1928, to house the British airship R100.
On May 22, 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 City-style taxis and Gotham Police Department cars.
In 1999, Warner Brothers hired Darren Aronofsky to write and direct Batman: Year One, which was to be the fifth film in the Batman franchise. Aronofsky brought Frank Miller to co-write Year One with him. Aronofsky collaborator Matthew Libatique was set as cinematographer, moreover he wanted to shoot the film in Tokyo, doubling for Gotham City. Aronofsky wanted to cast Clint Eastwood for the role of Batman. However, Warner Brothers was not happy with the script, due to the differences from the source material and did not greenlight the film.
Some die hard fans of the Batman comics had speculated this film was a prequel to Batman (1989) and its 3 sequels, detailing how Bruce Wayne first became Batman and not had realized it was a reboot and the first installment of a trilogy.
When Warner Brothers 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.
(at around 57 mins) When Bruce Wayne test drives the Tumbler in a huge white room that is the interior of the Excel Exhibition Centre in East London. The separating walls have been pulled back to all the tumbler to drive around but you can still see the hall numbers as they drive by them e.g N4, N5 etc.
Bruce's imprisonment and Henry Ducard offering to train Bruce was heavily influenced by The Mask of Zorro (1998). In the film Diego De La Vega (Anthony Hopkins) meets thief Alejandro Murrieta (Antonio Banderas) and he offers the thief to train him as Zorro, as Alejandro seeks to avenge his brother. The Zorro stories by Johnston McCulley was one of Bob Kane's inspirations behind Batman. Anthony Hopkins turned down the role of Alfred Pennyworth which went to Michael Caine.
(at around 46 mins) Psychoanalysts praised the film for its portrayal of Exposure therapy to cure Bruce's fear of bats in the scene where he is in the cave holding the light after he ducks down when the bats fly around him then he slowly stands up, closes his eyes and begins to inhale and exhale.
Liam Neeson's role in this film is an similar role to his role in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999). Like Qui-Gon Jinn, Henri Ducard is mentor to Bruce Wayne, and is a member of the League of Shadows, which is a ninja cult, and Ducard trains Wayne as a ninja.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the early minutes of each film in the trilogy, the main villain (Ra's Al Ghul, Joker, Bane) disguises himself as one of his own henchmen, and there is a conversation about said villain in each scene.
(at around 2h 10 mins) The Joker playing card presented to Batman at the end of the film is a 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.
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.
(at around 1h 40 mins) 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 Pits. Christopher Nolan chose to abstain from all fantasy elements from his version of Batman.
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 Bat Symbol at the beginning of each film in the trilogy foreshadows something that happens later. In this case the Bat Symbol is made up of bats and it symbolizes Batman using the sonar to call the Bats to distract the cops while he escapes from Arkham Asylum with Rachel.
(at around 25 mins) The scene of Joe Chills shooting, if paused at a certain frame, emulates the infamous photo of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. The frame is shown in the films visual guidebook.
(at around 1h 45 mins) In Wayne Manor, Ra's Al Ghul says that Jonathan Crane doesn't know the plan, and that Crane thinks the plan is to hold the city for ransom. In The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Bane publicly holds the city ransom for the League of Shadows.
The ultrasonic "bat caller" that Batman uses in his escape from the GCPD in Arkham, is another reference from Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's Batman: Year One series. In the issue Batman mentions it's a shame he can't patent it, it would be worth a fortune.
In his autobiography, Rutger Hauer wrote that he chose to accept the role of Mr. Earle, the executive of Wayne Enterprises, because he saw Earle as the kind of man who would be ruthless in his dealings with others, but also quick to accept his defeat, which is what happens in the end.
(at around 1h 40 mins) When Ducard/Ra's Al Ghul reappears at Bruce's party, their debate about destroying Gotham or not, is somehow similar to the debate between Abraham and God in Genesis 18:22-33, Ducard acts like God, who want to eliminate all evils, and Bruce acts like Abraham, that still has hope in Gotham's people, and don't want to kill innocent people in the city. Unlike Ducard, however, God allowed Abraham to find any innocent people in the city and they would be saved. That is why only Lot and his family were saved.
Batman's origin story in this film (learning ancient arts in Tibet, going from a wealthy young man to a man with nothing to lose, learning to be a more noble and selfless person) has been called into question by comic book fans because it is practically identical to the origin story of the Marvel character Doctor Strange.
In the introduction to both the characters of Ducard and Ra's Al Ghul, Ducard's character makes it clear that they are two distinctive characters from the Batman franchise. However, the identity of Ra's Al Ghul seems to bounce back and forth between Liam Neeson and Ken Watanabe whenever Ducard addresses Bruce Wayne in the film. To make a clear distinction, according to the comic background, Henri Ducard is referred to as Ra's Al Ghul's personal spokesperson, and is very much a normal human being. Ra's Al Ghul spends his time bathing in Lazarus Pit to claim his immortality. This means, beyond Ducard's death on the tram train, the scene of Ducard in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) would be referred to as a mirage to Bruce.