20 Things You Might Not Know About BATMAN BEGINS

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Geek Dave goes back to the Batcave...

1. We last left our Batman trivia retrospective in January 2003 with Warner Bros. hiring Christopher Nolan to direct, what was at the time, an untitled Batman film. Two months later David S. Goyer signed on to write the script, working closely with Nolan with the intentions of reinventing the film franchise of Batman through another origin story.

Nolan felt that all four previous Batman films had been exercises in style rather than drama, and wanted his take to be grounded in both realism and humanity, and to be set in a recognisable, contemporary reality against which an extraordinary heroic figure arises. The director said his inspiration in achieving this was found in Richard Donner's 1978 film Superman, and in its focus on depicting the character's growth.

2. When it came to the character of Batman, Nolan's personal "jumping off point" for inspiration was the 1989 short story The Man Who Falls by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano. This comic book was an overview of Bruce Wayne's early life, including his parents' murder, his time spent traveling and training throughout the world, and his return to Gotham City to become Batman. There are multiple scenes in Batman Begins that echo this comic, it even began with a young Bruce Wayne falling down a dry well on the grounds of Wayne Manor and being surrounded by a swarm of bats.

3. Goyer stated the 1996 comic book Batman: The Long Halloween, written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale, was heavily influential when writing the screenplay, and the villain Carmine Falcone was one of many elements which were drawn from Halloween's "sober, serious approach". Other comics which Goyer noted as inspirational when approaching the screenplay include; The Killing Joke, Knightfall, Batman: Dark Victory, The Dark Knight Returns, and Batman: Year One.

From Batman: Year One Goyer used the vacancy of Bruce Wayne's multi-year absence presented to help set up some of the film's events in the transpiring years. In addition, the film's Sergeant James Gordon was based on his comic book incarnation as seen in Year One, as well as the comic's plot device, which was about a corrupt police force that led to Gordon and Gotham City's need for Batman

4.  The Long Halloween tells the story of a mysterious killer named Holiday, who murders people on holidays, one each month. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Captain James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month, while attempting to stop the crime war between two of Gotham's most powerful families, Maroni and Falcone.

5. At the start of the casting process all the 'big names' approached were initially not told that the film was to be a Batman movie and the script they were sent was simply titled The Intimidation Game. After receiving his sample script Michael Caine initially discarded the document as when he first saw the title he assumed the script was for some kind of gangster movie which he wasn't interested at the time. Fortunately he opened it much later on a whim, and instantly loved the approach for Alfred.

6. Early on in development Christopher Nolan met with Guy Pearce, who he'd collaborated with on Memento, to discuss the possibility of Pearce playing the part of Ra's al Ghul, but both of them decided that he was too young for the role. Gary Oldman was then linked to the character, and the screenplay was further developed with him in mind. However, after Nolan offered the part of James Gordon to Chris Cooper and he turned it down in order to take a break from the industry and spend time with his family, it was decided that it would be refreshing for Oldman, who is renowned for his portrayals of villains, to play the role of Gordon instead.

7. On the lookout for a new actor to portray Ra's al Ghul, Nolan approached Daniel Day-Lewis (who wasn't interested in auditioning) and offered the part to Viggo Mortensen, before deciding upon Liam Neeson. Nolan liked the duality of the traditional role reversal found with Oldman and Neeson, as Neeson was commonly associated with mentor-style parts, so the revelation that his character was the main villain was intended to shock viewers.

8. Harvey Dent originally featured in Goyer's screenplay for the film, but the character was written out and replaced by Rachel Dawes when the writers felt they "couldn't do [Dent] justice" within the confines of this movie. Dent would, of course, go on to be later portrayed by Aaron Eckhart in the 2008 sequel The Dark Knight.

9. Claire Danes and Reese Witherspoon were both considered to play Rachel Dawes before Katie Holmes was offered and accepted the role.

10. When it came to casting Bruce Wayne / Batman, Eion Bailey, Henry Cavill, Billy Crudup, Hugh Dancy, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson, Heath Ledger, David Boreanaz and Cillian Murphy were all considered for the role, but there was always a clear front runner...

11. It was reported that Christian Bale had previously auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever and later Batman and Robin, but lost out to Chris O'Donnell. However, this rumour was later dispelled by Bale himself in a magazine interview in 2008. He had, however, been considered to play the part of Batman / Bruce Wayne back in 1998 when Darren Aronofsky was working on his own adaptation of Batman: Year One. Stuck in development hell for nearly five years, this take had initially been adapted for the screen by original Year One writer Frank Miller. His new script included Bruce Wayne as an orphan on the streets of Gotham, stripped of his fortune and taken in like Oliver Twist by an Alfred surrogate called Big Al, who ran an autoshop with his son, Little Al. Selina Kyle also featured as a young prostitute. The project went through numerous re-writes and directors, until ultimately it was canceled when Nolan came on board and started afresh. Pretty much everything was thrown out, with the exception of one man...

12. At his audition, Christian Bale wore the bat suit (minus the cape which has been missing for some time) which Val Kilmer had donned for 1995's Batman Forever. He also read for the part opposite Amy Adams, who in a favour to the casting director, was serving as the casting reader for the all the actors trying out for Bruce Wayne/Batman.

13. Bale was confirmed as the star of the new Batman film on September 11th 2003, whilst he was still filming The Machinist. At the close of 2003, as he completed work on the psychological thriller, Bale weighed just 121 lbs, and was given six months to bulk up to match Batman's muscular physique. Bale recalled this 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."
But with the help of a personal trainer Bale succeeded, gaining over 100 lb within about five months. A few weeks before filming on Batman Begins was about to get underway he weighed in at 230 lbs, and there was now concern that he'd be too bulky for the part! Bale also recognised that his large physique was not appropriate for Batman, who relies on speed and strategy, so in the space of just a few weeks he dropped to 40 lbs to weigh 190 lbs on the first day of filming.

14. In a dialogue free cameo, the villain Victor Zsasz was played by former James frontman Tim Booth.

15. For the role of the Scarecrow, Paul Bettany, Jeremy Davies, Ewan McGregor were all considered but the frontrunner for much of the casting process was future Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston. If Nolan had cast Eccleston then it's unlikely he'd have been available to play the Ninth Doctor, so say thank you to Cillian Murphy and his piercing blue eyes which had long stuck with Nolan after the Irish actor auditioned for the part of Bruce Wayne / Batman.

16. Although the Gotham City exteriors were shot in Chicago, much of Batman Begins was filmed in the UK at Shepperton Studios and other locations, including the University College London (which featured as the Gotham Courthouse) that Nolan had attended as a student. Whilst studying there Nolan began work on his debut 1998 feature Following, and the director included two of the film's leads, Jeremy Theobald and Lucy Russell, in his new Batman movie. Theobald plays the younger water technician in the film's climax, and Russell features as the Gothamite that Bale has dinner with later on.

17. Contrary to the previous Batman films, Batman Begins relied on traditional stunts and miniatures, with computer-generated imagery used minimally. When it came to the Batcave, which had previously been realised through a combination of a live set and matte paintings (done either by hand or computer), no visual effects were used, instead an entire Batcave was erected on a massive full-scale set. It measured 250 feet (76 m) long, 120 feet (37 m) wide, and 40 feet (12 m) high. Production designer Nathan Crowley installed twelve pumps to create a waterfall holding 12,000 imperial gallons, and built rocks using molds from real caves.

18. Although Christian Bale performed many of his own stunts, for insurance reasons he wasn't allowed anywhere near the Batmobile.

19. Christian Bale revealed in a 2009 interview that in his first ever scene with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, the one involving Bruce Wayne waking up in bed to find them waiting there, he fell asleep after the exhausting filming schedule took its toll. Bale described waking up to find Michael Caine poking him in the ribs, saying "Look at that! He's bloody fallen asleep".

20. At the time of this film's release in 2005, Forbes Magazine did a breakdown of how much it would actually cost to become Batman. The magazine estimated that total expenses in US dollars would be around $3.5 million.

Anyone got a spare $3.5 million?

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