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The Dark Knight Rises: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Christopher Nolan's Final Batman Movie

The Batman statue in The Dark Knight Rises

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 even 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 eight years 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. Here are 10 facts that will maybe help make everyone appreciate the gripping conclusion to Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.

Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

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 his January 2008 death 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 tragic death. But wow 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

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'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 his two big Batman movies.

Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises

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

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 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 loud speaker 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

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

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 in The Dark Knight Rises

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.

Bane's mercenaries taking over the plane in The Dark Knight Rises

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 (scheduled for five), Nolan and his team spent months going over every little detail to pull it off without a hitch.

Aidan Gillen in The Dark Knight Rises

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 proponents, 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.

Anne Hathaway and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

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.

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 Tim Burton's 1989 Batman or everything we know about the upcoming The Batman which is slated to swoop into theaters in October 21.

Philip Sledge

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 yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.