Continuing the current “Dark Knight” theme, I have decided to provide a list of interesting trivia related to the latest Batman film. Please note that some of these items may contain spoilers, so you may wish to come back here after watching the movie.
- As a joke, one bat suit was made with nipples, as in Batman & Robin (1997). It was presented to Christian Bale as the real bat suit, but he knew instantly it was a joke, having seen a few design pictures during preproduction. He did pose for some publicity photos in the “nipple” suit.
- Robin Williams, Lachy Hulme, Paul Bettany, and Adrien Brody all expressed interest for the role of the Joker before Heath Ledger was cast. When asked, “Why Heath Ledger as the Joker?” Christopher Nolan said, “Because he’s fearless.”
- To prepare for his role as the Joker, Heath Ledger lived alone in a hotel room for a month, formulating the character’s psychology, posture and voice (the last one he found most difficult to do). He started a diary, in which he wrote the Joker’s thoughts and feelings to guide himself during his performance. He was also given Alan Moore’s comic “Batman: The Killing Joke” and “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth” to read. Ledger also took inspiration from A Clockwork Orange (1971)’s Alex and Sid Vicious.
- Director Christopher Nolan and co-writers Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer decided not to explore the origins of the Joker in order to portray the character as “absolute.”
- While in the nurse uniform, The Joker’s name badge says Matilda. This is the name of Heath Ledger’s daughter.
- It’s Sir Michael Caine‘s opinion that Heath Ledger beat the odds and topped Jack Nicholson‘s Joker from Batman (1989): “Jack was like a clown figure, benign but wicked, maybe a killer old uncle. He could be funny and make you laugh. Heath’s gone in a completely different direction to Jack, he’s like a really scary psychopath. He’s a lovely guy and his Joker is going to be a hell of a revelation in this picture.” Caine bases this belief on a scene where the Joker pays a visit to Bruce Wayne’s penthouse. He’d never met Ledger before, so when Ledger arrived and performed he gave Caine such a fright he forgot his lines.
- Bruce Wayne develops and wears a new Batsuit in the film. This Batsuit was an improvement on the outfit from Batman Begins (2005), and made Christian Bale more comfortable and agile in his performance. It was constructed from 200 unique pieces of rubber, fibreglass, metallic mesh, and nylon (producing an impression of sophisticated technology), with elastic banding added for tightening the costume to fit Bale. The gauntlets had their razors made retractable and able to be fired. The suit’s cowl was based on a motorcycle helmet and separated from the neck piece, allowing Bale to move his head left/right/up/down, and comes equipped with white eye lenses for when Batman turns on Bat-sonar.
- The Joker make-up was composed of three pieces of stamped silicone, which took less than an hour to apply to Heath Ledger on each day of shooting. Ledger described it as “new technology which is much quicker to apply than regular prosthetics;” he felt he was not wearing any make-up at all.
- Costume designer Lindy Hemming based the Joker’s look around his personality, in which “he doesn’t care about himself at all.” Hemming was inspired by countercultural pop culture artists like Pete Doherty, Iggy Pop, and Sid Vicious. She avoided his design being vagrant, but made it scruffier and grungier, therefore making his movements slightly twitchier and edgier.
- An explosion was filmed at the Battersea Power Station in London. The fireball created calls from panic-stricken local residents, who assumed a terrorist attack was on the out-of-use Station.
- The Batman Comic Books “The Long Halloween”, “The Killing Joke”, “The Man Who Laughs” and the first two comics to feature the Joker character served as an influence on the film’s storyline.
- The “Batman” theme is heard only twice in the film, as Composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard decided that a heroic theme that a viewer could hum would ignore the complexity and darkness of the character. Hearing the tune only twice would create what Zimmer calls “a musical foreshadowing.”
- Heath Ledger improvised when he started clapping inside his jail cell in a mocking and sardonic capacity as Gordon is promoted. The clapping was not scripted but Christopher Nolan immediately encouraged the crew to continue filming and the sequence was included in the film.