This week Christian Bale went on record once again to say that he does not think he will ever step back into the Batsuit, and that he's not connected in any way to any Justice League movie. It's no big surprise to, well, any of us, but it prompted us to take a nostalgic look at some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Bat-Bale at work...
Christian Bale and Ken Watanabe listen to Christopher Nolan’s third point and await his fourth, on the League of Shadows set. Points of note here: look how young everyone looks - except Watanabe, anyway, since he's usually not white haired. We've also decided to believe that that giant radio around Nolan's neck is actually the remote control for some sort of toy Batmobile, just because the idea amuses us.
More direction from Nolan, with Bale and Michael Caine in Wayne Manor’s bat-boudoir. You may remember this as the scene where Bale dropped vertically into a series of press-ups, making every man watching hate him just a little bit. Interestingly, in the background here it looks very much as though Bruce Wayne keeps a picture of his own house in his bedroom - we're assuming there's actually a better reason for that.
Insert “this big” joke here. Bale and Katie Holmes prepare for action, or at least hair and wardrobe prepare them for action. Check out the barely-seen guy who's tweaking the Bat-cloak to ensure that it hangs just so. Costume designer Lindy Hemming talked about perfecting the cloak here; first you need incredibly thin parachute silk, and then you flock it for that velvety Bat-finish.
A dapper Liam Neeson, as Henri Ducard / Ra's Al-Ghul attends Bruce Wayne’s 30th birthday party. We wonder if wearing a black shirt to a formal party is the high society equivalent of a cowboy in an old Western wearing a black hat? Also, did it never occur to Bruce Wayne that someone called "Henri Ducard" might be expected to have a rather different accent to the one he actually boasts?
Bale crouches aboard Gotham’s decaying monorail (Gotham to be added later). What we learn here is that Gotham has monorail lines identified by colour, like Washington DC, rather than the more usual numbers / names of - say - New York.
An unfamiliar angle on The Dark Knight’s restaurant foursome. From here, however, Londoners can easily spot that this isn't Gotham at all but the Criterion restaurant on Piccadilly Circus in London. Straight through those revolving doors in the distance are a million Spanish students who have unwisely arranged to meet up beside the statue of Eros and who will now be harrassed by street musicians for hours.
Bale takes aim with a bat-device while a crew member does the same with a tape measure. You'll recognise this as the car-park scene at the very beginning of The Dark Knight, where the Batman encounters a group of copycat vigilantes and tells them to stay out of his way because they're not billionaires. Something like that, anyway.
Derring-do atop a Hong Kong skyscraper, and visual proof that Christian Bale and Chris Nolan both have a head for heights. The Chinese authorities vetoed the actual base-jump that's shown onscreen, so digital trickery had to suffice for that element of the shot. But an unconcerned Bale still got to walk the ledge and set up his grand scheme to unlawfully extradite Chinese citizen Lau (Chin Han).
Betrayed! Here we were, thinking that Batman had actually leapt from the top of a Gotham skyscraper (the one where Bruce Wayne keeps his weekday penthouse) to save Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal in this case), but in fact he's just in a studio, safely suspended from a wire, against a green screen.
Enter the Joker: Bale and Heath Ledger in the interrogation room. This was one of the first scenes in which we saw the Bat-suit under bright lights. This profile shot also gives you a good view of the redesigned Bat-cowl (rejected title: Bat hat?) that gave Bale better peripheral vision and head movement than any Batman before him.
Oof! Chicago’s banking district doubles as Gotham. The Bat struggles to get up as Gary Oldman's Jim Gordon keeps The Joker down. We like to think that Bale's trying to fit in some impromptu sit-ups on set here, but in fact he's just been knocked off the Batpod during his struggle with the Joker, so no wonder he seems a little dazed.
Bale, Nolan and Aaron Eckhart, as crusading district attorney Harvey Dent, discuss the fashion prospects of neck-suspended monitor equipment and whether it will ever catch on in the mainstream.
A nattily bow-tied Morgan Freeman, in the Wayne Enterprises basement, presumably embarassing director Chris Nolan who thought it was dress-down Friday. Just out of shot under the floor: Bane, waiting for his moment to blow a hole in the place and steal all the best toys. We assume that [redacted for spoilers] found out where it was and told Bane where to explode.
No pain, no Bane. Bale brings Tom Hardy in for questioning. But while he's on top in this moment of the fight, things don't go quite according to plan for the Caped Crusader when Bane breaks his back and chucks him in an Indian oubliette with a good TV signal so he can watch Gotham's grisly fate.
Bane rains pain. You might think that, on a mega-budgeted movie like the third in the Dark Knight trilogy, everything would be high-tech and gleaming. As this picture shows, resourceful film crews tend to use whatever is at hand to make it all happen, wrapping cameras in plastic sheeting to protect them from water damage in scenes set in the leaking sewer-set headquarters of bad guys.
Nolan’s films get criticised for humourlessness, but here’s proof that there are at least laughs offscreen. Hardy and Bale discuss script pages… and are amused. Either that, or Bane's just advised Batman that laughter is the best medicine, and Batman's experimenting to see if it's good enough to mend a broken back, or if he'll have to do a few pull-ups instead. Nolan also appears to be doubling for the costume department here, adjusting Hardy's collar for maximum scariness.
Back to business in the follow-up to the pitched battle on Wall Street (or Gotham's version thereof) between Gotham PD and Bane's goons. Taking refuge inside a handy bank, Batman puts the boot in to Hardy as Marianne Cotillard guards the exit. We're not sure that leaving her with a shotgun is the best plan Batman's ever made, but he can't think of everything.
Well, this seems an appropriate note to end on. A forlorn batsuit awaits its owner in the cave, as overhead an army of scriptwriters, studio executives, directors and actors discuss the future of the Batman and wonder whether and how he'll fit into any Justice League movie, how short a space of time they can decently leave it before recasting and starting over, and who will fit into these desirable duds next.