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Story Notes for The Dark Knight

sn-dark-knight-284x184Weeknights during prime time on AMC, you can catch Story Notes — real time trivia and facts about your favorite movies! Below is the online version of the Story Notes for The Dark Knight.

Anthology Notes
Scarecrow, along with Ra’s al Ghul, was the main bad guy in Batman Begins. He’s the only villain to appear in all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.

Wayne Manor was burned down by Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Shadows in Batman Begins.

Carmine Falcone is the mob boss in Batman Begins. He’s in Arkham because of Scarecrow.

Bruce Wayne made Lucius Fox the CEO of Wayne Enterprises at the end of Batman Begins.

At the end of Batman Begins, Jim Gordon unveiled the Bat Signal to Batman. He was inspired by the bat-like image created when Batman strapped a mob boss to a large searchlight.

Batman faced Catwoman in his next movie, The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

Bruce and Rachel were childhood friends when her mother worked at Wayne Manor. After the events of Batman Begins, they dated for a while.

The Batmobile was going to be destroyed in Batman Begins, but the production crew fell in love with it.

Despite Fox’s threat to leave, Morgan Freeman returned for the sequel, The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Christian Bale also returned to play Batman for a third time.

Automotive Notes
Nolan wanted the Batmobile to have the armor and weight of a tank and the speed of a Lamborghini. They called it the Tumbler. Five of them were built for this movie.

Director Christopher Nolan had the initial full-size mock model of the Batpod built in his garage.

Bruce drives a Lamborghini Murciélago. Murciélago is Spanish for “bat.”

Awards Notes
Heath Ledger won Best Villain at the MTV Movie Awards for playing the Joker.

The Dark Knight won an Oscar for Best Sound Editing. It was also nominated for Best Sound Mixing.

Lee Smith, a frequent Nolan collaborator, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Editing.

The Dark Knight was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

The Dark Knight won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Stunt Ensemble.

Makeup artists John Caglione Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan were nominated for an Oscar for the movie.

Heath Ledger was awarded a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for playing the Joker. The award was accepted by his father, mother, and sister.

The Dark Knight won a Grammy for Best Score.

The Dark Knight received eight Oscar nominations – but not for Best Picture.. Many say the fall-out caused the Academy to change the nomination process the following year.

Backstory Notes
Michael Caine made up his own backstory for Alfred, as he does with all the characters he plays. He was in the Special Infantry Service during World War II, but he was injured. He then took a job as a bartender in the officers’ mess hall, which is where he met Bruce Wayne’s father.

Alfred became Bruce Wayne’s caretaker after his parents were killed when he was 8 years old.

Biographical Notes
Cinematographer Wally Pfister has worked on all of Chris Nolan’s movies starting with Memento (2000). He was nominated for an Oscar® for his work on this movie and later won for Nolan’s Inception (2010).

Eric Roberts (Maroni) plays the villainous Master in the 1996 Doctor Who TV movie.

Eric Roberts is Julia Roberts’ brother. His daughter is Emma Roberts (Scream 4).

Between Batman movies, Christian Bale and Michael Caine star in director Nolan’s The Prestige (2006).

Aaron Eckhart later plays the President of the United States in Olympus Has Fallen (2013).

Ledger passed away in his apartment in January of 2008, six months before the movie premiered.

According to their father, Heath Ledger’s sister would dress him up as a nurse when they were kids.

Casting Notes
That’s William Fichtner from Contact (1997) and Armageddon (1998).

Gary Oldman had just played Sirius Black for the third time in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007).

Ritchie Coster plays a gangster in this movie and was in American Gangster the year before this.

Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later) reprises his role as Batman Begins‘s villain Dr. Jonathan Crane.

Gary Oldman was originally approached to play Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins. He was sick of playing bad guys, so he suggested to Nolan that he play Jim Gordon.

Two-time Oscar-winner Michael Caine has been in all of Nolan’s movies since Batman Begins. Caine: “We’re each others’ good luck charms.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes for the sequel. Gyllenhaal made sure she had Holmes’ blessing before taking the role.

Nolan had been wanting to work with Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking) since they met in 2000.

Eric Roberts (Maroni) was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Runaway Train (1985).

Morgan Freeman played God in Evan Almighty (2007) between Batman movies.

Chin Han (Lau) is also in Contagion (2011).

Michael Jai White (Gambol) stars in the comic book movie Spawn (1997).

Nestor Carbonell (The Mayor) was playing Richard Alpert on Lost at the time. On the TV show The Tick (2001), Carbonell played a Batman-esque superhero named Batmanuel.

Colin McFarlane (Commissioner Loeb) has done a lot of work as a voice actor for video games and cartoons.

That’s U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). He’s a huge Batman fan and also appears in Batman & Robin.

Keith Szarabajka plays vampire hunter Holtz on Joss Whedon’s Angel (2001-2002).

Joshua Harto (Reese) is also in the superhero movie Iron Man in 2008.

Chicago-based actor David Dastmalchian (Joker’s Thug) is also in Prisoners (2013).

Melinda McGraw (Barbara Gordon) guest starred on AMC’s “Mad Men” the same year as this.

Nathan Gamble (Gordon’s son) has been nominated for five Young Artist Awards. The first was for Babel in 2007.

Michael Hall is the star of ’80s Brat Pack movies The Breakfast Club and Weird Science.

Ron Dean (Wuertz) is known for playing cops. He was also on the force in The Fugitive and Above the Law.

Crew Note
Makeup artist John Caglione is an Oscar-winner for his work on Al Pacino in Dick Tracy (1990). He works with Pacino all the time and did his makeup for director Nolan’s Insomnia (2002).

Finance Note
The Dark Knight has made over $1 billion worldwide. In the U.S., it’s the 4th highest-grossing movie ever.

Location Notes
Gotham National Bank is really the Old Chicago Main Post Office, which was vacated in 1997. Chicago stood in for Gotham City for most of the movie.

After shooting most of Batman Begins (2005) on sets, Nolan chose to film on location for a feeling of reality. Nolan: “[Chicago] gives us a natural rawness that being on a soundstage wouldn’t give you.”

Harvey and Rachel’s dining scene was filmed at the restaurant Criterion in London’s Piccadilly Circus neighborhood. Director Christopher Nolan is from London. He shot most of Batman Begins there.

Batman jumps off the 2IFC Building, which was the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong at the time.

The Dark Knight is first time in any Batman movie that Batman has been seen outside of Gotham City.

The movie sparked a filmmaking boom in Chicago – Transformers 3 and Man of Steel later filmed there.

The exteriors of the “Prewitt Building” were shot at Trump Tower in Chicago. Since the building was under construction, they shot the interiors in an office building in London.

Music Note
Composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard split up the score based on character. Zimmer wrote the Joker’s disturbing theme music, while Howard took on Harvey Dent.

Pop-Culture Notes
The Dark Knight (2008) is the second in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It was nominated for eight Oscars and broke box office records at the time.

Since his debut in 1939, Batman has starred in 7 movies, a TV show, a cartoon, and countless comics

Critics compared the heist scene to Michael Mann’s Heat (1995).

Forbes.com ranked Bruce Wayne No. 8 on their list of wealthiest fictional characters. Scrooge McDuck is No. 1.

The Joker was partly inspired by the punk band, the Sex Pistols. Ledger based some of his mannerisms on bassist Sid Vicious, and costume designer Lindy Hemming was influenced by the style of frontman Johnny Rotten.

The Joker has been played by Cesar Romero (the 1960s Batman TV show), Jack Nicholson (1989’s Batman), and Mark Hamill (Batman: The Animated Series).

The Joker and Batman were very popular Halloween costumes in 2008, the year the movie premiered.

Another inspiration Ledger used for the Joker was Alex from Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971).

This Joker was No. 5 on Entertainment Weekly‘s 2010 list of the “Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years.”

Some fans thought Reese was meant to be the Riddler because he tries to expose Batman’s identity. They said that Mr. Reese sounds like “mysteries,” just as the Riddler’s name E. Nygma resembles “enigma.”

Other actors who have played Bruce Wayne: Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Adam West.

The Dark Knight was on both AFI’s and The National Board of Review’s “Top Ten Films of 2008” lists.

Batman and the Joker have been facing off for over 70 years, in comics, video games, TV, and movies.

The Dark Knight has been compared to The Godfather: Part II and Terminator 2 as one of the best sequels of all time.

Press Notes
The Boston Globe called Bale’s Batman “Dirty Harry crossed with Hamlet.”

The Wall Street Journal said Ledger’s Joker was a combination of Peter Lorre and Jack Lemmon.

The New York Times: “It goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind.”

Production Notes
Gary Oldman based his look on Jim Gordon’s appearance in the comic Batman: Year One (1988).

Wayne Tower is different than the one in Batman Begins. Nolan wanted it to look more modern.

Nolan was inspired by surreal Francis Bacon paintings while creating the Joker’s character.

Heath Ledger spent months working with a vocal coach on the Joker’s voice. He used ventriloquist dummies as inspiration for the disconnected, mocking quality.

Christian Bale trained in the Keysi Fighting Method to play Batman. Keysi means “from the heart.” The martial arts style was developed by two stuntmen who worked on Batman Begins.

The studio really created a fake campaign website for Dent, with an endorsement video by Rachel.

Christopher Nolan uses fake working titles for his movies to keep spoilers from getting out. The Dark Knight was disguised as Rory’s First Kiss, named after Nolan’s son.

Christian Bale used a deep, gravelly voice for Batman from his very first audition. For this movie, it was distorted even more during editing.

Aaron Eckhart partially based Harvey Dent on Robert F. Kennedy. Eckhart: “He was fresh, he was young… he was driven to get rid of the mob like Harvey is.

To prepare for the role, Aaron Eckhart studied what happens psychologically to burn victims.

Batsuit sculptor Julian Murray created a scale model of Two-Face’s head based on the comic books. Murray said they had to come up with a look that was gruesome without being too upsetting to look at.

Quotation Notes
Christian Bale, on returning as Batman/Bruce Wayne: “This is the first time I’ve played a character twice… He has advanced, he’s become more mature, he now has the responsibility of power.”

Nolan said Dent and Gordon are “very distrustful of each other and antagonistic towards each other…but they have to work together.”

Nolan cast Heath Ledger based on his Oscar-nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain (2005). Nolan: “[He had] such a lack of vanity… [He] wasn’t afraid to bury himself in his character.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal: “So many people I play are a mess; Rachel’s really clear about what’s important to her.”

Maggie Gyllenhaal on Ledger: “I knew… that he was doing something really unusual and rare… and extremely special.”

Gyllenhaal, who had mostly acted in indie films, said she was a little scared of doing stunts in this movie.

Christian Bale rides motorcycles in real life: “I like the solitude of it. You’re in charge of your own machine.”

Eckhart said he felt that law enforcement officials like Dent “love the law, but they’re constrained by the law.”

Christian Bale: “It felt like we were really pushing each other on, to the limits of where you can go.”

Michael Caine on Alfred: “He is Bruce Wayne’s guide and mentor. He’s also his family, all he’s got left.”

Director Christopher Nolan: “The Joker is not a logical criminal. He’s devoid of sense, devoid of logic.”

Christian Bale: “You can’t help but feel different in the Batsuit… You’re so protected you feel that you could easily beat the crap out of anybody who messed with you.”

Christopher Nolan called Gary Oldman “the greatest actor of his generation.”

Script Notes
In the script, the clowns are called Dopey, Happy, Grumpy, Chuckles, and Bozo.

Director Christopher Nolan wrote the movie with his brother Jonathan Nolan. The two first worked as writing partners on Memento (2000), which earned them an Oscar nomination.

Christopher Nolan wrote some of the script while visiting Hong Kong. He wanted to take Batman somewhere he’d never been before.

Nolan rarely writes for a specific actor, but he always saw Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.

Director Christopher Nolan felt it was important that the Joker didn’t have a definitive origin story.

The writers decided that, in this movie, Harvey Dent was the protagonist, not Bruce Wayne. Co-writer David S. Goyer: “He goes from being a White Knight to a horrifically scarred and tragic figure.”

Nolan called the movie The Dark Knight to make a definitive statement about the character of Batman.

Nolan has said that if he knew he was going to make another sequel, Harvey Dent wouldn’t have died.

Set Notes
Production designer Nathan Crowley based the look of the Bat Bunker on 1960s buildings in Chicago.

Prosthetics makeup supervisor Colin O’Sullivan created three different sculptures for the Joker’s scars. He made a silicone mold combining the three looks using a technique he learned on The Last Samurai (2003).

While shooting in Hong Kon, cinematographer Wally Pfister said he’d “never seen so many people out to see movie stars on the street.”

That’s really Christian Bale standing on top of the Sears Tower in Chicago, over 100 stories high. They were originally going to use a stunt double, but Bale insisted he do it himself.

Christian Bale did all the fight scenes in the movie himself, without a stunt double.

The entire lobby of a high-rise building was transformed into Bruce Wayne’s penthouse. Green screens were placed over the windows so the city views could later be added in digitally.

One of the IMAX cameras broke during filming. It was one of only 4 in the world at that time. Nolan wrecked another one while filming The Dark Knight Rises.

Heath Ledger kept a production diary while making the movie. He locked himself in a hotel room for weeks with the diary to dig deep into the Joker’s character.

Makeup artist Caglione would have Ledger wrinkle up his face while he applied makeup, which created cracks and texture. Ledger would then smear the red lipstick on himself.

The Joker’s cheek-sucking tic initially came from Ledger’s discomfort with wearing the scar makeup.

Christian Bale never got to ride the Batpod himself. Only one of the stuntmen was able to stay on it.

Ledger improvised the bit with the detonator. There was an unplanned delay in the explosions. The crew said that even from 500 yards away, the heat from the explosions raised the temperature 20 degrees.

Like the fake Batman scene, this “breaking news” was shot by Ledger. Director Nolan wasn’t even on set.

Eight hundred extras worked on the ferry scene, which was shot in only one day. With so many extras on the boats, they had to use a precise schedule to get everyone in costume on time.

Source Notes
The Joker has been Batman’s nemesis since the first issue of the Batman comics in 1940.

Gotham City has had over 15 mayors in the comics. Bruce Wayne was even mayor in one issue.

Men in Batman suits were killed off all over Gotham in the 1989 comic, The Many Deaths of the Batman.

In the comics, Bruce Wayne’s love interests have included Vicki Vale, Julie Madison, and Talia al Ghul.

Harvey Dent was originally “Harvey Kent.” The name was changed to avoid confusion with Clark Kent.

In the comics, a bazooka is the weapon of choice for the Joker’s female sidekick Harley Quinn.

In the comics, the Joker has gone by these aliases: “Red Hood,” the Domino Killer, and Joseph “Joe” Kerr.

Harvey “Two-Face” Dent made his first appearance in Detective Comics #66 in 1942.

In the comics, Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face after Maroni throws acid on his face.

Tech Notes
This was the first major Hollywood movie to use IMAX cameras. Six scenes were filmed in IMAX; this is the first.

They used digital effects for Two-Face. Tracking dots on Eckhart’s face were used to capture his expressions

Trivia Notes
RICO refers to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The 1970 law has been used to prosecute organized crime.

In Nolan’s first movie, Following (1998), the lead character has a Batman sticker on his door.

Wardrobe Note
Costume designer Lindy Hemming completely redesigned the Batsuit for this movie. She wanted to make it more like a suit of armor and based the design on high-tech sportswear.

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