Batman's (almost) back but for how long?
There's no question that "The Dark Knight Rises" is Christopher Nolan's final voyage to Gotham City. Less certain, however, is the final fate of the Caped Crusader himself. Rumors abound that Bruce Wayne won't leave "Rises" alive at least not standing on his own two feet. We'll find out for sure where things stand when Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy ends on July 20.
Ahead of that, an extensive new 13-minute "Dark Knight Rises" featurette has been released to show you just how much time and effort went into crafting the perfect Batman finale. (The short answer: a lot of time and effort!) Keep reading for the highlights from the featurette.
Wayne Feels The Pain
Eight years have passed since the end of "The Dark Knight," and Bruce Wayne has since retired the Batman persona. But that doesn't mean he's without his own sense of turmoil. Christian Bale identified Bruce's main conundrum: "How much longer can he allow this pain to control his life?"
Wayne finds himself forced out of retirement when a terrible threat comes to Gotham City. But eight years have passed since he last donned the cape and cowl; is he really prepared to take on the likes of Bane and his army? One thing is for sure: for Bale, donning that suit will never get old.
"It never stops giving me goose bumps," he admitted, "walking down the stairs [in costume], and everybody just stops."
Batman Meets His Match
To make sure that things aren't too easy on our fearless hero, Nolan decided that the film's nemesis would have to be someone physically stronger than Batman. Enter Bane, the masked mad man played by Tom Hardy. "Bane is not to be reasoned with," the actor teased. "Some people want to watch the world burn. Well, Bane has come to pull the pin on the grenade."
"Tom Hardy is an extraordinary actor," Nolan said of his villain. "What Tom is able to do just with his expression and his eyes... it's terrifying. Through the course of 'The Dark Knight Rises,' we learn more about what drives Bane, where he comes from, what he wants ... and none of it is good news."
Along Came A Cat Burglar
Further fueling the film's chaos is Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman. The sultry icon has gone through numerous iterations in comics, television, movies and more. But for "Dark Knight Rises," actress Anne Hathaway had only one mission in mind: living up to the Nolan legacy.
"The most important thing is to fit into Chris' Gotham City. My Catwoman has to be Chris Nolan's Catwoman," said the Oscar nominee, who also weighed in on Catwoman's morality. "Selina Kyle has her own code of ethics which sometimes involves doing things that others might find questionable."
"We had to have a way of grounding this character. We realized that Catwoman could just be this con-woman, this grifter, this classic movie femme fatale," said the director. "I think Anne understood right from the first that she'd have to do almost everything for herself. She had to be this character. And she took it on in a most extraordinary way."
The Other Guys
Batman, Bane and Catwoman are "the big three" when it comes to "The Dark Knight Rises," but there are several other characters in play as well. Alfred Pennyworth, for one, returns to guide Bruce through his latest trials and for Michael Caine, Alfred represents "us in this incredible world. He's not tough like all of the others."
Likewise, Wayne Enterprises CEO Lucius Fox favors brains over brawn. "Lucius and Alfred, between the two of them, we try to keep [Bruce's] moral compass pointed in the right direction," said Morgan Freeman.
Jim Gordon, who Gary Oldman described as "the conscience of Batman," returns for "Rises" as well. He's joined by another police officer, John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rumors abound about Blake's real identity, though Gordon-Levitt would only speak to the surface-level details of the character.
"He's a proud police officer," he said. "In the midst of a lot of cynicism, he remains idealistic and really believes in what he does."
Larger Than Life
The final half of the featurette focuses primarily on the practical and visual effects used in "The Dark Knight Rises," and the emphasis is very much on the former over the latter. The featurette delves into numerous high-octane sequences including a massive battle on Wall Street in New York City featuring hundreds of extras, the shooting of the airplane-hijacking scene that served as the film's IMAX prologue some months ago, and a seriously in-depth look at the creation of The Bat, clocking in at "nearly 30 feet long and 17 feet wide."
"'The Dark Knight Rises' is certainly the biggest film that I've undertaken, by far," Nolan said of the scope of his final Bat-movie. "We really looked back to the silent era of motion pictures, when the image was paramount, when all you had was the scope and scale of a location with thousands of extras. That was the kind of storytelling I was interested in."
Tell us what you think of all the "Dark Knight Rises" updates in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @roundhoward!