Warning: possible spoilers ahead for Stranger Things Season 2! You've been warned!
It's no secret that Stranger Things has always embraced the idea of pop culture homages, and that idea was on full display in Season 2. However, the show didn't just refer to Stephen King stories or 1980s Steven Spielberg classics. The Duffers looked all over the place for visual and tonal inspiration, and it seems that one of the season premiere's opening sequences -- in which Kali used her telekinetic powers to manipulate a tunnel and evade the Pittsburgh police -- drew its inspiration from Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight. Matt Duffer explained:
We always looked at the movie sequels that we admired, and they always pivot and they always try new things. Even if you swing and miss, at least you're trying something different. . . . We were definitely going for [a Dark Knight vibe]. Some of this stuff happens subconsciously, so I'm sure, yeah, we were ripping off Chris Nolan. Some of it was deliberately. We put on movie music when we write --- I know I wrote that [scene] to The Dark Knight score or The Matrix, one or the other. But we love that kind of film, and we don't usually get to explore that kind of vibe or tone on the show, so I think that's really why we did it.
If you have watched Stranger Things Season 2, then you already know that this is one of the first sequences in the new run of episodes, and it's quite a hectic one. In it, we see Kali and her gang on the run from the Pittsburgh Police Department in a van. Unable to shake the cops with fancy driving, Kali eventually instructs the driver to head for a tunnel, at which point she uses her abilities to make the cops think that the tunnel has begun to collapse. The supernatural tactics work, and Kali's gang manages to ride off into the night.
Though it's not a direct recreation of any one moment from The Dark Knight, the use of a tunnel to evade the police in Stranger Things Season 2 borrows quite a bit of visual grammar from Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy -- with a dash of The Matrix possibly thrown in as well. Specifically, it feels like a low-tech version of the Batman vs. Joker chase through the tunnels under Gotham as The Caped Crusader fights to save Harvey Dent. In that regard, Matt Duffer's comments to EW about the scene suggest that they weren't trying to emulate the dump truck vs. Batpod sequence entirely, but they were trying to capture that particular tone and the kinetic energy of it all.
Take a look at the full sequence from The Dark Knight below to see how they got their inspiration for Kali's telekinetic van escape!
The Duffer Brothers seem to have an understanding of what works and what doesn't in the world of movie sequels, and that's something that they applied to all of their work on Season 2 of Stranger Things. In the same way that The Dark Knight arguably feels like a bigger and bolder story than Batman Begins, so too is the second season of the hit Netflix series. (Even that one episode people are griping about.) When viewed through that lens, channeling The Dark Knight into their script (while listening to Hans Zimmer scores, no less) makes quite a bit of sense.
Did you pick up on that Dark Knight reference in Stranger Things Season 2? Let us know what you thought of that opening in the comments below! The Duffer Brothers' hit Netflix series is now available to stream; check out our fall TV premiere guide to keep yourself up-to-date on everything debuting over the next few months, and listen to The Cord Cutter Podcast to hear everything that we have to say about the world of streaming content.