The second film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, “The Dark Knight,” is considered by critics and fans alike to be one of the best movies of all time. In this sequel, Batman (Christian Bale) races to stop the psychotic Joker (Heath Ledger) from throwing Gotham City into chaos. Together with Gotham’s District Attorney, the charismatic Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman has to decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice to end The Joker’s reign of terror.
Check out these 10 interesting facts that you may not have known about “The Dark Knight.”
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10 fascinating facts about The Dark Knight
1. Ledger did some pretty intense stuff to prep for The Joker
After receiving the news he had been cast in the role, actor Heath Ledger immediately threw himself into preparations to play the part. He reportedly lived alone in a hotel room for an entire month, working out The Joker’s off-putting mannerisms and unique voice. Rumor has it, Ledger based his character’s voice on Tom Waits’ croaky sound. Listen and judge for yourself.
Ledger also kept a diary while in character, chronicling The Joker’s most twisted inner thoughts and feelings. The intense work paid off. Ledger won a posthumous Academy Award for the role.
2. The Joker threatened a real Senator
In a tense scene early in the film, The Joker and his crew storm a cocktail party at Bruce Wayne’s luxury penthouse. While The Joker holds the room of socialites hostage, an older gentlemen stands up to him. The Joker then grabs the man and threatens him with a knife. This man is played by real-life Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont. A lifelong Batman fan, Leahy has had small cameo roles in several Batman movies and cartoons.
3. The crew tried to hide the production during filming
While filming scenes on location in Chicago, the crew attempted to keep the true nature of the film under wraps. Filming under the fake title “Rory’s First Kiss,” the deception didn’t last long. Eagle-eyed fans and other spectators quickly guessed that “Rory’s First Kiss” was actually a new Batman movie.
4. The hospital explosion was totally real… and unscripted.
In one of the film’s most famous sequences, The Joker threatens to blow up a random hospital in Gotham City. The hospital in question was, in reality, an abandoned candy factory, and those explosions are totally real. For this reason, the crew only had one chance to get the shot right. During the scene, not all of the charges went off as planned. Staying in character as The Joker, Ledger fiddles with the detonator for a moment before jumping in surprise as the rest of the explosions go off seconds later. This unscripted moment remained in the final film, and turned into one of The Joker’s most memorable scenes.
5. Batman’s suit actually works
Batman’s armored suit received several upgrades in preparation for the new production. Basing the cowl’s design on motorcycle helmets offered Bale greater mobility, and the suit itself is made of over 200 separate pieces of fiberglass, rubber, and metal mesh. Some of the features and gadgets are actually functional, including the lethal razors that retract and fire from Batman’s wrist gauntlets.
6. The Batpod was built in Christopher Nolan’s garage
In addition to the Batmobile from the previous movie, Batman received a swift new addition to his arsenal of vehicles. The motorcycle-like Batpod makes its first appearance in “The Dark Knight.” Several working Batpods were constructed for use in the film, and the first prototype was actually built over the course of several months in director Christopher Nolan’s garage.
7. The movie almost got an open world video game
Years before the Batman Arkham games took the gaming world by storm, an open-world Batman game was in the works to tie into “The Dark Knight” movie. The game was being developed by Pandemic Studios, the creators of the original Star Wars Battlefront and the now-defunct Mercenaries franchise. Unfortunately, the game hit several snags during production, and was eventually abandoned before the studio closed its doors for good.
8. President Obama used the movie to help fight ISIS
A big fan of the movie, President Barack Obama apparently took inspiration from the movie to help understand the growing threat of ISIS. During a staff meeting, President Obama reportedly said the following: “There’s a scene in the beginning in which the gang leaders of Gotham are meeting. These are men who had the city divided up. They were thugs, but there was a kind of order. Everyone had his turf. And then the Joker comes in and lights the whole city on fire. ISIL is the Joker. It has the capacity to set the whole region on fire. That’s why we have to fight it.”
9. The Joker’s interrogation scene really did get violent
The first scene that Christian Bale and Heath Ledger shot together was the interrogation sequence where Batman tries to beat information out of The Joker. Ledger encouraged Bale to actually hit him during the scene, even going so far as taunting Bale to get him riled up. When Bale still refused, Ledger began hitting himself and throwing himself against the room’s tiled walls, leaving cracks that can still be seen in the movie.
10. The film includes a reference to Ledger’s daughter
During one sequence in the film, The Joker infiltrates Harvey Dent’s hospital room disguised as a nurse. The name tag on The Joker’s uniform reads “Matilda.” This is the name of Ledger’s real-life daughter, who was only two years old during the filming of the movie.
If you’re looking to rewatch one of the best superhero movies of all time, check out Softonic’s Where to Watch site to see “The Dark Knight” online right now.