As the curtain went down on the previous instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise, it was clear that what we were witnessing was a seminal story unfolding. Arguably the greatest superhero movie of all time, The Dark Knight left us all on tenterhooks for the final part in the trilogy that has rebooted and restyled a hero who had began to lose his way. Nolan, with the help of cinematographer Wally Pfister and production designer Nathan Crowley, has transformed Gotham City and its principle protector from the light-hearted and slightly camp to the gritty and cool protagonist Christian Bale has embodied so perfectly.
Of course, at the heart of the Batman universe is Bruce Wayne’s armoury of high tech gadgets and above all – his vehicles. Given Christopher Nolan’s aversion to excessive CGI, the production team created all of the film’s vehicles to actual working specifications, and showcasing them like never before, The Dark Knight Rises includes a multitude of set pieces displaying these technological marvels in all their glory.
Ever since his inception by Bob Kane and Bill Finger back in the 1930s, Batman has been synonymous with the Batmobile, or the Tumbler as it is now known. More like a tank than the sleek and awkward looking vehicles driven by the caped crusader in the 1990s movies, the Tumbler is 2.5 tons of sheer brute force, just as at home negotiating the mean streets of Gotham as it would be traversing an off-road track.
In terms of weapons, the vehicle’s creator Andy Smith has added to the arsenal that was on display in The Dark Knight with a rocket launcher that more than comes in handy when taking on Bane and his legion of loyal soldiers.
At over fifteen feet long and nine feet wide, this latest incarnation of Bruce Wayne’s prized set of wheels is in fact a hybrid of a Humvee and a Lamborghini and can reach a whopping 110mph – incredible given its vast bulk – and yes, it does come in black.
Given more prominence in The Dark Knight Rises than in the previous movie, the Batpod is ridden by both Batman and Catwoman as they outmanoeuvre both the police and Bane’s men through the streets of Gotham. Conceptualised by Nathan Crowley and built by special effects supervisor Chris Corbould, the Batpod provided quite a challenge to stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy. Unsurprising considering it has been constructed without handlebars, controlled instead with shoulder sleeves and arm sleeves.
and introducting… the Bat
As previewed in the movie’s trailer, there is a new kid on the block in the shape of the Bat – and boy does it make an impression. Taking design inspiration from the Harrier Jump Jet, Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey and the Boeing AH-64 Apache, Crowley was keen to ensure that the aesthetic of the Bat fitted in with the other vehicles Batman had at his disposal.
According to Chris Corbould, the size and shape of the vehicle presented a genuine challenge for the filming of the action set pieces. To create the illusion of the Bat’s flight, Nolan stuck stubbornly to his insistence against the use of CGI, and as a result it was supported by wires as well as being suspended by cranes and helicopters, all the while mounted on a purpose-built vehicle that utilised hydraulics to simulate movement.
As the credits roll on the final part of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman saga, we will once again be bidding farewell to a character who has well and truly cemented his place in the hearts of superhero and movie lovers.
The bar has been set very high indeed for future superhero movies but one thing is for sure, film makers will have to go some way to even come close to recreating the heart-pounding and adrenaline-pumping excitement the vehicles of the Dark Knight have produced.
This guest blog was written by John Rooney on behalf of Insure 4 a Day, providers of temporary car insurance regardless of whether you have a hatchback or a Batmobile.