For all the artistry of the films, it does have to sell some toys as well, and each series entry has seen Batman get to play with a new bit of kit. "Batman Begins" saw the 'tumbler' Batmobile (which is seemingly replicated by Bane in the new film), and "The Dark Knight" saw that split off into the motorcycle-like Batpod. This time around, trailers have shown glimpses of a new flying craft piloted by Bruce Wayne, which Nolan says is known by a simple name. "It is called The Bat. I spent a long time trying to figure out clever names for 'bat-something-that-would fly,' then you go: 'Oh, it's a bat.' It's very much based on a double-bladed helicopter idea, once again a realistic approach to military hardware. We had [visual effects supervisor Chris] Corbould and his guys build it full-scale and come up with this great driving rig for it so we could photograph it in real streets, and there's a big computer-graphics component to it as well. It's fun to take Batman to the next level in terms of his transportation and weaponry -- in terms of his ability to fight people." Production designer Nathan Crowley adds "There is a story reason why Batman needed an Osprey-Jump-Jet-Harrier-Apache beast! It doesn't really fly, but we felt the technology had finally caught up to the point where we could pull it off between FX and practical."
The Joker won't even be referenced in the film.
Sadly, the death of Heath Ledger means that we'll never know if The Joker would have figured into Nolan's plans for a third film. But despite some speculating that the director would nod to the character, he says there won't be a single reference to the clownish criminal. "We're not addressing The Joker at all. That is something I felt very strongly about in terms of my relationship with Heath and the experience I went through with him on The Dark Knight. I didn't want to in any way try and account for a real-life tragedy. that seemed inappropriate to me. We just have a new set of characters and a continuation of Bruce Wayne's story. Not involving The Joker." Probably the right call to make, all in all.
Much of the marketing and pre-release hype have focused on the film being the end to Nolan's trilogy. Indeed, Goyer says that the film started with a germ of an idea for the ending, one that remains intact in the finished film, and which the writer, when he saw it, "got a complete lump in my throat." Most involved are adamant that this is the big finale, drawing a line on the story with a definitive finale: "It's the right way to end it -- to blow the whole thing up" says Jonah Nolan. "I think with almost every other franchise it's a mistake to try and keep those plates spinning. You want stakes. You want tectonic plates to shift. And as a writer you wanna feel like you've worked on a complete story, with a beginning, a middle and an end." And the director certainly seems to be cutting his ties with the series, saying "It's an incredibly fun arena to work in and incredibly rewarding, so I will look back on it very fondly. But I'm done with it." That being said, all involved are realistic about Warner's future plans for the character: David Goyer says "It would be ridiculous to expect that Warner Bros. wouldn't attempt to do something." And Christian Bale says that, while his experience on "Terminator: Salvation" makes him cautious, he'd be game for a fourth if Nolan was: "My understanding is that this is the last one... I've had that experience with another thing of thinking a fourth one could work and it didn't really happen -- and that's a thorn in my side. So if Chris came to me with a script and said, 'You know what? There is another story,' then I would love the challenge of making a fourth one work."
"The Dark Knight Rises" hits theaters on July 20th. Tickets go on sale Monday, we believe.