Filmforce.ign.com (September 15th, 2004)

BATMAN BEGINS SET VISIT PREVIEW

A sneak preview of IGNFF’s visit to Gotham City’s set in London, tour of the Batmobile, the Batsuit and a few words from Batman himself, Christian Bale.

Housed within the massive Admiralty Hanger No. 2 near Bedford outside of London is the set for one of next summer’s most anticipated releases, Batman Begins. Starring Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman and directed by Christopher Nolan, IGN FilmForce’s Jeff Otto was one of a very select group of media allowed to tour the set of Gotham City itself. Although we have agreed not to give the complete details of the experience until our full set visit coverage in January, I am able to give a brief rundown of the visit and experience along with a few words from Christian Bale.

The set itself is, to put it lightly, massive. The floor area is the size of 16 Olympic-size swimming pools and it would take 8,338 of London’s double-decker buses to equal its volume. During the course of the day, we walked around the set, checking out the Gotham slums, the streets, Arkham Asylum and even an extensive viewing of the Batmobile and the Batsuit. The Batmobile is truly a sight to behold. Said to clear 0-60 mph in less than 6 seconds, the vehicle features 400 pounds of torque housed within its stealth-like body. This is a vehicle of purpose. It’s not slick, shiny or curvy, but its usefulness to the dark knight makes total sense. It is painted in a non-reflective flat black, has four monster truck tires on the back and two on the front, and a flip-top, tank-like hatch. When the engine roars to life and the beaming front lights are flipped on, this is one intimidating, bad-ass vehicle. Unlike the previous incarnations, the Batmobile is not based on any production vehicle. It was built completely from the ground up. The Batsuit is also quite impressive. It bears the closest resemblance to the version from the Tim Burton Batman films, but is even darker and less flashy. The bat-symbol is set on black against the black of the costume. There are no nipples, but rather a chiseled muscle outline across the chest. The cape is built of an entirely new material and flaps elegantly in the wind. Finally, the utility belt is a dark gold and features various cigarette-sized pockets and round tubes. Unfortunately, we were unable to check out the gadgets housed within.

Before the day was over, we were able to speak with Bale, Gary Oldman (who plays Commissioner Gordon), director Christopher Nolan, his wife and producer Emma Thomas as well as the set designer, the men behind the design of the Batmobile and the designer of the Batsuit. You will be able to see those full interviews in the upcoming feature on the visit. For now, a few words with Bale will have to suffice.

On the Batsuit: “I’m not going to bitch about the suit, you know? There’s a quote from me that some of the people had on the back of their t-shirt that said, ‘It’s hot, dark and sweaty and it gives me a headache,’ which is absolutely true, but there’s nothing more annoying than hearing actors bitch about their work and stuff like that. You know, I’m playing Batman, for gosh sakes. That’s pretty fantastic. I’m not going to complain about getting a little bit sweaty…”

On the Batmobile: “I actually only drove the Batmobile for the first time last week… I would love to say it’s me driving the Batmobile in the movie, but it’s probably not… The noise is incredible. It’s like having Ozzy Osborne kinda screaming in your ear the whole time…”

On the stunt work: “I gotta tell you, I was up for doing a lot more stunts than they would actually let me do… We did a lot of wirework rehearsals before we started filming and, I think, however, they got a bit of cold feet after the stunt man one day came down on the wire and just landed straight on his face. And so at that point they thought, ‘Ah, let’s rethink just how much we’re gonna let Christian do this…”

I asked Bale how he winds down after a long day of playing such a moody, dark hero. Bale was quick with an amusing response: “I go out and kick the sh*t out of criminals.”

Stay tuned to IGN for more info on Batman Begins and for an upcoming feature article with a more expanded look at the set and talks with the aforementioned cast and crew.

By Jeff Otto.