By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist November 22, 2011 at 9:21AM
Despite endless set photos and grainy YouTube videos posted by desperate fans, we still know virtually nothing significant about "The Dark Knight Rises," likely to be 2012's biggest film, and the third in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. But this shouldn't be a major surprise to anyone. After all, Nolan's perfected the art of secrecy in the internet age, more than anyone bar J.J. Abrams, so much so that even the barest of plot details for "Inception" were kept under wraps until only weeks before release.
But with a little over six months until the film's release, the shroud of secrecy has started to lift a little, and the latest issue of Empire Magazine (via Batman News), which, as we reported, features the film's stars Christian Bale and Tom Hardy on its new cover, has an exclusive report from the film's set, and with subscribers now receiving the issue, some of the key quotes have started to emerge.
Perhaps the biggest headline-grabber has been the length of time passing between this film and its predecessor, "The Dark Knight." While relatively little time seemed to pass between the 2008 picture and "Batman Begins" (which ended with the emergence of The Joker, suggesting that it was almost a direct follow-up), Nolan has revealed that eight whole years have passed when we get to the new film. The director tells Empire, "We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after 'The Dark Knight.' So he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state. With our choice of villain and with our choice of story we are testing Batman both physically as well as mentally."
It's an intriguing, and unexpected time leap, and we're interested to see where this takes the character, who was left a fugitive from justice at the end of "The Dark Knight," having taken the fall for the death of Harvey Dent. The director again makes clear that he sees the film as a conclusion to his trilogy saying, "In terms of finishing our story and increasing its scope, we were trying to craft an epic. It’s really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne’s story...In terms of finishing the our story and increasing its scope, we were trying to craft an epic so the physicality of the film became very important." And it sounds like he'll have a tougher challenge than ever in Tom Hardy's masked muscleman Bane.
The "Bronson" star, reuniting with his "Inception" director, tells Empire of his character, "He’s brutal. Brutal. He’s a big dude who’s incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and oriented fighting style. It’s not about fighting. It’s about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it’s nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He’s a smashing machine. He’s a wrecking ball. If we’re going to shoot somebody, shoot the pregnant woman or the old lady first. Make sure everybody stands up. He’s a terrorist in his mentality as well as brutal actions. He’s a horrible piece of work."
It sounds like Nolan's found a way to make a character reduced to a sidekick in his last screen appearance in Joel Schumacher's "Batman & Robin," into a genuine threat, even without the S&M gear, which costume designer Lindy Hemmings says has a clear cause: "He was injured early in his story. He's suffering from pain and he needs gas to survive. He cannot survive the pain without the mask. The pipes from the mask go back along his jawline and feed into the thing at the back where there are two cannisters of whatever it is…the anesthetic."
There's more in there too, including details on the six-minute prologue, which will debut in front of IMAX showings of "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" on December 21st, but you'll have to pick up Empire for that. Meanwhile, Gary Oldman's been talking to MTV about the film on the "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" press tour. This writer can't personally attest to what he says, because MTV still geo-lock their videos, but apparently he says that the film has a conclusion. Hold the presses! The magazine hits newsstands on Thursday, while "The Dark Knight Rises" will arrive on July 20, 2012.