When it comes to big-screen adventures, few superheroes have been as prolific as Batman. From 1966’s Batman: The Movie to 2021’s The Batman, the Caped Crusader has appeared in more than a dozen theatrical releases. But even in a time defined by the shared universe approach of Marvel Studios, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is arguably just as influential.
Nolan stepped away from the franchise nearly a decade ago. Yet, its impact on cinema continues to be discussed and analyzed, particularly when it comes to 2008’s The Dark Knight. But, since it’s unlikely Nolan and star Christian Bale will return, fans have little choice but to keep chewing away on the films they gave us. Thankfully, the movies are so rich we are still discovering astonishing new facts behind their production.
The game-changing power of the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy
With the current comic book movie boom, it’s easy to forget just how much of a risk Nolan took on Batman Begins. The titular hero’s last big-screen appearance was 1997’s Batman & Robin. And since that film essentially killed the franchise, the Memento filmmaker needed to bring a fresh angle.
Enter his stripped-down, bare-bones approach to the DC Comics mythos. Rather than embracing the campiness and over-the-top nature like Joel Schumacher had done, Nolan took everything about Batman deadly serious. No wonder his arch-nemesis asked about in the sequel. “Why so serious?”
This gritty, grounded approach — as well as its morally grey outlook — has been emulated by countless films since Batman Begins and its sequels arrived. But one way in which the trilogy’s influence has been more limited is its use of largely practical effects.
Fans are flipping out over this insane behind-the-scenes fact
In fact, the visual effects in the Dark Knight trilogy are so seamless fans are only now discovering how they were pulled off. Recently, a tweet featuring behind-the-scenes footage from Batman Begins sheds new light on a key scene.
The memorable moment in question takes place during a confrontation between Batman (Bale) and Dr. Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy). Crane’s primary weapon — under the guise of Scarecrow — has been his fear toxin. So Batman offers Crane a “taste of [his] medicine,” leaving Crane to see a demonic-looking version of Batman.
In the final film, this nightmarish version of the Dark Knight looks like a jet-black digital effect. But the newly discovered footage proves “Demon Batman” — as the Twitter user calls him — is actually a suit constructed for Batman Begins, augmented a bit with CGI. Although Nolan probably could have opted for a more digital effect, it’s hard to imagine it looking as sharp.
‘The Batman’ will probably follow Christopher Nolan’s lead
Batman Begins explores Bruce Wayne’s development of his alter-ego. And Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman similarly centers on Wayne early in his career. With Robert Pattinson leading a gifted supporting cast, the film aims to reinvent the character, as Nolan’s trilogy did. Exactly how Reeves intends to pull this off remains to be seen, but we expect Nolan’s shadow will remain.
Everyone has their own favorite Batman. Depending on which version you discovered first, you might prefer the 1989 film’s Michael Keaton over Bale. Or perhaps the 1960s Batman, Adam West. But this character has survived for so long because there literally is no wrong way to portray him.
All are just as true to the source material. And we don’t expect this constant reinterpretation to stop with Reeves’ film. In fact, we can’t wait to see what he does with Batman.