Still fresh off The Machinist, it became necessary for Bale to bulk up to match Batman’s muscular physique. He was given a deadline of six months to do this. Bale recalled it as far from a simple accomplishment: “…when it actually came to building muscle, I was useless. I couldn’t do one push up the first day. All of the muscles were gone, so I had a real tough time rebuilding all of that.” With the help of a personal trainer, Bale succeeded in meeting the deadline, gaining a total of 100 lb (45 kg) in six months. He went from about 130 lbs to 230 lbs. He then discovered that he had actually gained more weight than the director desired, and dropped his weight to 190 lbs by the time filming began.
Bale had initial concerns about playing Batman, as he felt more ridiculous than intimidating in the Batsuit, he dealt with this by depicting Batman as a savage beast. To attain a deeper understanding of the character, Bale read various Batman comic books. He explained his interpretation of the young boy: “Batman is his hidden, demonic rage-filled side. The creature Batman creates is an absolutely sincere creature and one that he has to control but does so in a very haphazard way. He’s capable of enacting violence — and to kill — so he’s constantly having to rein himself in.” For Bale, the most gruelling part about playing Batman was the suit. “You stick it on, you get hot, you sweat and you get a headache in the mask,” he said. “But I’m not going to bitch about it because I get to play Batman.” When promoting the film in interviews and public events, Bale retained an American accent to avoid confusion.
Batman Begins was released in the U.S. on 15 June 2005 and was a U.S. and international triumph for Warner Bros., costing approximately US$135 million to produce and taking in over US$370 million in returns worldwide. Bale earned the Best Hero award at the 2006 MTV Movie Awards for his performance.
Bale reprised his role as Batman in Nolan’s Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Kevsi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on 18 July 2008 and stormed through the box office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 18 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.
Bale reprised his Batman role in The Dark Knight Rises released on 20 July 2012, making Bale the actor who has played Batman the most times in feature film. Bale has given the same opinion as Nolan that, if the latter was forced to bring Robin into the films, he would never again play Batman; even though one of his favorite Batman stories, Batman: Dark Victory, focuses on Robin’s origin.
In 2006, Bale took on four projects: Rescue Dawn, by German film maker Werner Herzog, had him playing U.S. Fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, who has to fight for his life after being shot down while on a mission during the Vietnam War. Bale left a strong impression on Herzog, with the director complimenting his acting abilities: “I find him one of the greatest talents of his generation. We made up our own minds long before he did Batman.”
In The Prestige, an adaptation of the Christopher Priest novel about a rivalry between two Victorian stage magicians, Bale was reunited with Batman Begins‘ Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan. The cast of The Prestige also included Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and David Bowie. I’m Not There, a film in which Bale again worked alongside Todd Haynes and Heath Ledger (who would go on to play The Joker in The Dark Knight), is an artistic reflection of the life of Bob Dylan. He starred opposite Russell Crowe in a commercially and critically successful Western film, 3:10 to Yuma. Bale played John Connor in Terminator Salvation and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies.
In 2010, Bale portrayed Dicky Eklund in the biopic The Fighter. He received critical acclaim for his role and won several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.
After a weekend of tragic news surrounding the midnight screenings of The Dark Knight Rises, it feels slightly pointless to post this image from Madrid on the eve of the film’s opening there, however, it’s such a joyful image of people celebrating the release with style, that I wanted to share it.
Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a reclusive Howard Hughes-like figure, hidden away in Wayne manor, mentally and physically broken from his battles as Batman. Gotham has largely forgotten Batman, believed to be responsible for the death of the lionised Harvey Dent, the city has moved on since the end of The Dark Knight.
Wayne still lives with his loyal butler Alfred (Michael Caine), as ever, the heart of these films and Bruce Wayne’s link to humanity, who reminds him that he isn’t living his life.
Lured back into the world by two women, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), socialite investor in Wayne Enterprises’ clean-energy programs, and cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Wayne finds his world and Gotham on the brink of collapse when a new villain, the remorseless Bane (Tom Hardy), emerges with a plan to destroy Gotham and everyone in it. Batman must return to confront this new threat, to save both Gotham and his own legacy from ashes.
You really need to have seen Batman Begins before watching The Dark Knight Rises. Bane’s modus operandi is similar in tone to that of Ra’s Al Ghul, Batman’s former mentor and nemesis. Bane states that: “Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die” and he means it, targeting Gotham’s stock exchange and football stadium in two hugely impressive set-pieces.
Modern-day themes and fears are central to this final part of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy; corporate collapse, global and local terrorism, and class warfare (people may draw parallels with the recent ‘occupy’ protests), which could be lifted from any recent headline. These are distilled in the dubious motivations of Bane, who for all his ‘smash the system’ rhetoric actually makes a few good points.
In Bane, Batman faces an enemy with similar motivation of the Joker, but in a much more physically imposing form. Hardy manages to instil Bane with some personality beyond his face mask and monolithic appearance, however his performance, and especially his dialogue delivery suffers due to the constraints of his mask.
Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), although still oozing sex-appeal, is less fetishist than in previous outings, here she’s a real presence, with a real story arc and a sly sense of humour, she has great chemistry with Bale.
Unlike The Dark Knight, where The Joker was central to the whole, here the film revolves around Batman, and fittingly, this is also Christian Bale’s best performance in the role, he was always good as Bruce Wayne, portrayed this time as an older, more thoughtful, melancholic character, and this time his Batman is a more fully rendered character.
The returning cast of Michael Caine and Gary Oldman are as solid as ever, Marion Cotillard is restrained and the introduction of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as an earnest young police officer gives the audience hope for Gotham’s future.
As with Nolan’s previous Batman movies, this is more dark and serious than most superhero movies, and the previous Batman outings. There are many ideas thrown around in this film, not all of which lead to the expected conclusions, and it feels like Nolan has tried to fit a little too much in there, however the film works, it is spectacular entertainment.
It is visually beautiful, and cinematic on a massive scale, again due to Nolan regular, Wally Pfister’s gorgeous cinematography and fantastic production design by Nathan Crowley.
The film is also quite long, the first half build-up gives each character their moments, as well as a backstory that encompasses the previous movies and beyond; as it moves into a massive second half everything is geared towards a spectacularly ambitious conclusion. It’s been a big year for superheroes, with Marvel’s The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man already box-office hits; it’s time for DC’s Dark Knight to stake his claim back at the top where he belongs.
Quality: 5 out of 5 stars
Any good: 4 out of 5 stars
Two fantastic new Dark Knight Rises covers from the UK Empire magazine… the Catwoman one is AWESOME.
Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Leading an all-star international cast, Christian Bale again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake. Returning to the main cast, Michael Caine plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Morgan Freeman reprises the role of Lucius Fox. “The Dark Knight Rises” in theaters July 20.
Batman, created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, first appeared in Detective Comics #27 which was published on April 25th, 1939, and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics. Originally referred to as “The Bat-Man” and still referred to at times as “The Batman”, he is additionally known as “The Caped Crusader”, “The Dark Knight”, and “The World’s Greatest Detective,” among other titles.
In the original version of the story and the vast majority of retellings, Batman’s secret identity is Bruce Wayne, an American millionaire (later billionaire) playboy, industrialist, and philanthropist. Having witnessed the murder of his parents as a child, he swore revenge on criminals, an oath tempered with the greater ideal of justice. Wayne trains himself both physically and intellectually and dons a bat-themed costume in order to fight crime. Batman operates in the fictional American Gotham City, assisted by various supporting characters including his crime-fighting partner, Robin, his butler Alfred Pennyworth, the police commissioner Jim Gordon, and occasionally the heroine Batgirl. He fights an assortment of villains such as the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and Catwoman. Unlike most superheroes, he does not possess any superpowers; he makes use of intellect, detective skills, science and technology, wealth, physical prowess, martial arts skills, an indomitable will, fear, and intimidation in his continuous war on crime.
Batman became a very popular character soon after his introduction and gained his own comic book title, Batman, in 1940. As the decades wore on, differing interpretations of the character emerged. The late 1960s Batman television series used a camp aesthetic which continued to be associated with the character for years after the show ended. Various creators worked to return the character to his dark roots, culminating in the 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller, while the successes of Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman, and sequel Batman Returns, and Christopher Nolan’s exceptional 2005 reboot Batman Begins, and mega-hit sequel The Dark Knight also helped to reignite popular interest in the character. A cultural icon, Batman has been licensed and adapted into a variety of media, from radio to television and film, and appears on a variety of merchandise sold all over the world such as toys and video games. The character has also intrigued psychiatrists with many trying to understand the character’s psyche and his true ego in society. In May 2011, Batman placed second on IGN’s Top 100 Comic Book Heroes of All Time, after Superman.
Although Caine also took better roles, including a BAFTA-winning turn in Educating Rita (1983), and an Oscar-winning one in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) and a Golden Globe-nominated one in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), he continued to appear in notorious duds like the thinly veiled skin flick Blame It on Rio, and the critical-commercial flop Jaws: The Revenge (1987) (in which he had mixed feelings about the production and the final cut) and Bullseye! (1990); his appearing in so many films that did not meet with critical or box office acclaim made him the butt of numerous jokes on the subject. Of the former, Caine famously said (primarily about Jaws: The Revenge) “I have never seen the film, but by all accounts it was terrible. However I have seen the house that it built, and it is terrific.” All these film failures later became cult films among his fans today. His other successful films (critically and/or financially) were the 1978 Academy Award-winning California Suite, the 1980 slasher film Dressed to Kill, the 1981 football/war film Escape to Victory, the 1982 film Deathtrap, and the 1986 Academy Award-nominated Mona Lisa. He also starred in Without a Clue, portraying Sherlock Holmes.
The 1990s were a lean time for Caine, as he found good parts harder to come by. A high point came when he played Ebenezer Scrooge in the critically acclaimed The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), which he apparently considers to be one of his most memorable roles. He played the beleaguered stage director Lloyd Dallas in the film adaptation of Noises Off (1992). He also played a villain in the Steven Seagal film On Deadly Ground (1994). He was also in two straight to video Harry Palmer sequels and a few television films. However, Caine’s reputation as a pop icon was still intact, thanks to his roles in films such as The Italian Job and Get Carter. His performance in 1998’s Little Voice was seen as something of a return to form, and won him a Golden Globe Award. Better parts followed, including The Cider House Rules (1999), for which he won his second Oscar.
In the 2000s, Caine appeared in Miss Congeniality (2000), Last Orders (2001), The Quiet American (2002), for which he was Oscar-nominated, and others that helped rehabilitate his reputation. Several of Caine’s classic films have been remade, including The Italian Job (okay), Get Carter (awful), Alfie (pointless) and Sleuth (okay). In the 2007 remake of Sleuth, Caine took over the role Laurence Olivier played in the 1972 version and Jude Law played Caine’s original role. Caine also starred in Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) as Austin’s father and in 2003 he co-starred with Robert Duvall in Secondhand Lions. In 2005, he was cast as Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred Pennyworth in Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman series, in Batman Begins. In 2006, he appeared in the films Children of Men and The Prestige. In 2007 he appeared in Flawless, while in 2008 he reprised his role as Alfred in the critically acclaimed Batman sequel, The Dark Knight as well as a fantastic performance in the British drama Is Anybody There?, which explores the final days of life.
It was reported by Empire magazine that Caine had said that Harry Brown (released on 13 November 2009) would be his last lead role. Caine later declared (in the Daily Mirror) that he had been misquoted by the magazine… he has continued to disprove the quote.
Caine had a cameo appearance in Christopher Nolan’s science fiction thriller, Inception. He voiced Finn McMissile in Pixar’s 2011 film Cars 2 and also voiced a supporting role in the animation, Gnomeo and Juliet. He also starred in the 2012 family film Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Caine will reprise his role as Alfred Pennyworth in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, due for release in mid 2012.
Caine has been Oscar-nominated six times, winning his first Academy Award for the 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters, and his second in 1999 for The Cider House Rules, in both cases as a supporting actor. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1992 Queen’s Birthday Honours, and in the 2000 New Year Honours he was knighted as Sir Maurice Micklewhite CBE. On 5 January 2011, he was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by France’s culture minister, Frederic Mitterand. He also worked with my mate Brad who says he’s a cool guy…