The Dark Knight Rises: 13 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Christopher Nolan's Final Batman Movie

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Sometimes it's hard not to feel bad for Christopher Nolan's third and final Batman movie, The Dark Rises. Before it was even released in theaters in July 2012, the conclusion of the Caped Crusader's grounded trilogy didn't stand a chance considering that it was following The Dark Knight, which some will argue is the greatest comic book movie of all time. And while it doesn't eclipse the 2008 box office and pop culture juggernaut, The Dark Knight Rises remains an interesting piece of filmmaking a decade later, especially when taking some of the fascinating behind-the-scenes facts behind its creation and legacy.

So many Batman fans get caught up in certain decisions being made throughout The Dark Knight Rises they fail to see the chances director Christopher Nolan and the outstanding cast and crew took in order to tell a new story while simultaneously wrapping up a three-part narrative that started seven years earlier with Batman Begins. In honor of the movie’s 10-year anniversary, here are 13 facts that will maybe help make everyone appreciate the gripping conclusion to Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.

Burn Gorman in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Christopher Nolan Intended On Making The Dark Knight Rises A Disaster Movie Meets Historical Drama

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movies always felt like they took what happened in the preceding film and expanded the scope and scale of the trilogy in the process. Batman Begins was a more personal story about one man’s journey, while The Dark Knight had heightened stakes in a story that focused more on the city as a whole. And when it came to The Dark Knight Rises, the movie came off as a disaster film or historical epic, which was Nolan’s plan all along.

In the Behind the Scenes of the Dark Knight Trilogy documentary that accompanied the Blu-ray box set, Nolan said he and his creative team wanted to make a film that embraced all of Gotham and focused on multiple groups of different people dealing with and encountering tumultuous events. By shifting genres with each of the movies, Nolan said he was able to increase the scale while not blowing up a balloon like so many other sequels.

Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth in Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Christopher Nolan Went To Great Lengths To Keep Bruce Wayne’s Funeral A Secret

During production of The Dark Knight Rises, it seemed like pictures and videos from the set were leaking left and right, and Christopher Nolan knew this going in. To protect the movie’s biggest secrets and to not ruin The Dark Knight Rises ending, Christopher Nolan took some extreme measures. In the Behind the Scenes of the Dark Knight Trilogy documentary, Nolan revealed just how far he went to keeping Bruce Wayne’s funeral a secret, a process that included a tombstone with a different name (Miranda Tate) and something else that was borderline genius:

We went as far as having Christian [Bale] there on set that day so he would appear on the call sheet in case the call sheet leaked and in case there were long-lens shots of the funeral, he would be there as a character as well.

And Bale was actually there. In the documentary, there’s footage of arguably the best Batman actor dressed up for a funeral and chatting with other members of the cast.

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Tom Hardy Based His Bane Voice On A Legendary Bare-Knuckled Boxer Nicknamed ‘King of the Gypsies’

Love it or hate it, Tom Hardy’s Bane voice is one of the most memorable aspects of The Dark Knight Rises and something people just can’t stop talking about 10 years after its release. But while one might assume the voice was something that was drawn up by a committee, the iconic and divisive voice was Hardy’s idea. In a 2021 Wired video interview alongside Venom: Let There Be Carnage director Andy Serkis, Hardy explained its origin:

Bane quintessentially is Latinx in origin and I’m not. So I looked at the concept of Latin and found a man called Bartley Gorman, who’s a Romani gypsy. “The king of the gypsies, in inverted commas, is a bare-knuckle fighter and a boxer. And he said [doing Bane-like voice], ‘When I get into a ring with a man, and we want to wipe you off the face of the Earth, and he wants to kill me.’ And I was like, ‘This is great.’

After coming up with the voice, Hardy ran the idea by Christopher Nolan and said they could either play it safe with a “Darth Vader route” or try something new. And even though the process had a negative effect on Hardy, he was still quick to make a joke about the fan response to his voice.

Heath Ledger as The Joker

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Heath Ledger Planned On Returning As The Joker Before His January 2008 Death

Heath Ledger's The Joker in The Dark Knight will forever go down as one of the most captivating performances in any movie, and the actor’s January 2008 death coming just months before the world got to see his take on the Crown Prince of Crime will never not be tragic. And while we now live a world of what-ifs surrounding the character's reported role in The Dark Knight Rises, the late actor's sister, Kate Ledger, told in 2017 that her brother had plans for another Batman movie before his death. But now we live in a world where we'll never know how things would have played out for Batman and The Joker if given one more go.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Warner Bros. Pitched The Idea Of Casting Leonardo DiCaprio As The Riddler

Shortly after the release of The Dark Knight, everyone from fans to critics were wondering who would pick up where The Joker left off in the eventual third installment in the trilogy. With every villain from Harley Quinn to The Penguin getting thrown around, there was one member of Batman's Rogues Gallery that higher ups at Warner Bros. wanted to include, and they reportedly had an actor in mind. 

In Empire Magazine’s (via Batman-News) preview of The Dark Knight Rises, David Goyer revealed that after the 2008 film's premiere, he was approached by an executive who told him the studio wanted Leonardo DiCaprio to bring The Riddler to life on the big screen. Obviously, this didn't happen, but Leo did get a chance to play an enigmatic character in Christopher Nolan's Inception between the director’s second and third Batman movies.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Anne Hathaway Went Into Her Catwoman Audition Thinking She Was Up For Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn didn't make her live-action film debut until 2016's Suicide Squad, but Anne Hathaway went into her The Dark Knight Rises audition thinking she was up for the role of The Joker's girlfriend and not Catwoman. During a 2020 interview with BBC Radio 1, the Oscar winner revealed that it wasn't until partway through a meeting with Christopher Nolan that she figured out what was going on. 

As soon as Nolan told her she was there for Selina Kyle, Hathaway began to question the outfit she wore to the audition (which gave off a Harley Quinn vibe) and the way she had been acting just moments earlier. It must have worked because not only did Hathaway get the gig, but she was cast in Nolan's next picture, Interstellar, as well. 

Hines Ward in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Shooting The Football Stadium Scene Was A Hot, Chaotic Mess

The destruction of the football stadium (and the bridges and tunnels around Gotham City) in The Dark Knight Rises is one of the most iconic and terrifying scenes in the entire trilogy, but pulling off the feat of destroying a football field with tens of thousands of extras in the summer sun (a scene that is supposed to take place in autumn) was no easy task. Shortly after the scene was shot at Heinz Field (now called Acrisure Stadium) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in August 2011, the Post-Gazette published a very detailed report about everything that went down.

Some of the highlights of the chaotic mess include extras breaking out into chants for Bane and T-shirts, medics being called in for heat exhaustion, and Steelers great Hines Ward riding atop a Batmobile. At one point, an announcer got on a loudspeaker and told the extras to not ham it up for the cameras. There were so many extras lined up at the stadium the morning of the shoot it caused gridlock in downtown Pittsburgh, which was made worse that evening when the Pirates hosted a game at nearby PNC Park.

Matthew Modine in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Christopher Nolan Had To Cut A 'Sickening' Death Scene To Avoid An NC-17 Rating

One aspect of The Dark Knight Rises that has always been perplexing is the death of Matthew Modine's Peter Foley in the final act of the movie. It's implied that Marion Cotillard's Talia al Ghul runs him down, but we only see the aftermath. Well, about that. When appearing on CinemaBlend's ReelBlend podcast in September 2020, Matthew Modine revealed his death scene was cut in order to preserve the film's PG-13 rating, explaining that the way the scene was filmed (by a stunt double) was so violent it was "sickening" to see his body hit the ground. Christopher Nolan was reportedly so shocked by the image and sound of the body hitting the ground he said the film would have received an NC-17 rating and cut it out instead.

Tom Hardy in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Bane's Backstory Was Originally Much More Detailed

Despite seeing quite a lot of Tom Hardy's Bane throughout The Dark Knight Rises, audiences didn't learn too much about his backstory until the final act of the movie, and even then, the details are sparse. Well, according to a GQ interview (via Vulture) with the film's costume director Lindy Hemming, there was apparently a scene later cut that filled in the gaps.

In what sounds much like the League of Shadows training that Bruce Wayne underwent in Batman Begins, the scene is described as showing Bane in a rough version of his signature mask and support belt fighting off taunts and attacks as a youth. Lindy Hemming also told the interviewer about another scene that showed why Bane needed the mask in the first place but was mum on the details.

Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Christopher Nolan Was Asked To Fix Banes' Voice Prior To The Film's Release

One of the complaints people have about Christopher Nolan movies is the dialogue being drowned out by what's happening around the characters, or in the case of Bane in the early release of the prologue from The Dark Knight Rises, Tom Hardy's voice. 

Back in December 2011, shortly after the prologue was released ahead of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. In the six-minute scene, it was hard to understand what the masked baddie was saying, so much so that Warner Bros. reportedly had the director fix the sound mixing, but he only wanted to do so much. And while it remains unclear how much work was done to Hardy's voice before the final release, it's easy to hear a distinct change when comparing the two versions.

Two planes flying in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Christopher Nolan Dropped A Real Plane From The Sky For The Film's Prologue

Christopher Nolan has long been known as a director who likes to do things the old fashioned way and that philosophy carries over to most of the stunts carried out in his movies. That can be said for the tense opening prologue in The Dark Knight Rises, specifically the part where he literally dropped a plane midair and sent it crashing to the ground below.

Nolan touched on this during a panel at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival (via Business Insider) where he explained that yes, it was a real plane, and yes, it was dropped from the sky, high above Scotland. And while the shoot only took two days to complete(scheduled for five), Nolan and his team spent months going over every little detail to pull it off without a hitch.

The bridges to Gotham City are partially destroyed in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Christopher Nolan Gave An Early Screening Of The Prologue To Filmmakers To Make A Case For IMAX

Here's one more behind-the-scenes fact that has to deal with Christopher Nolan and the prologue from The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan is notorious for preferring to shoot on film and even more known for bringing IMAX to narrative-driven films. Not only does Nolan love IMAX, he's always been one of the format's most vocal supporters, so much so that he brought several filmmakers together and screened the film's prologue to show them what they could do with the format. He touched on this in a 2012 interview with Directors Guild of America Quarterly, stating:

I wanted to give them a chance to see the potential because I think IMAX is the best film format that was ever invented. It's the gold standard and what any other technology has to match up to, but none have, in my opinion.

Christopher Nolan went on to stress that he did this less to force directors to abandon digital formats but more to motivate them to stand up for themselves when studios give them pushback for wanting to shoot on film.

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Christian Bale Was Approached About A Fourth Movie But Turned It Down

With the way The Dark Knight Rises ends, it seems next to impossible to have Christian Bale continue donning the cape and cowl of Batman in a fourth movie, but that didn't stop Warner Bros. from approaching the actor about playing Bruce Wayne a fourth time. The studio's plan, however, didn't work out for a couple of reasons, as Bale told the Toronto Sun newspaper in 2019.

The major reason Bale didn't want to do it again was that it was always Christopher Nolan's plan to make three films set in Gotham and Bale didn't want to stretch it too far. Bale jokingly revealed the other reason was that Nolan stepped away after the third movie and Bale's services were no longer needed. Bale stated in a 2022 interview with that he would only return to the role if Nolan came back as director, which doesn’t seem likely.

If you've read through all of these behind-the-scenes facts about The Dark Knight Rises and want more Batman trivia, make sure to check out the rundown of the making of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight or perhaps how Matt Reeves got The Batman off the ground.

Philip Sledge
Content Writer

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop barking at the mailman, or chatting about professional wrestling to his wife. Writing gigs with school newspapers, multiple daily newspapers, and other varied job experiences led him to this point where he actually gets to write about movies, shows, wrestling, and documentaries (which is a huge win in his eyes). If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.