9 things we learned from 49 pages of TDKR production notes

We're only two weeks away from the opening of the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, but we're still hungry for every Dark Knight Rises detail we can find. Nearly 50 pages of production notes are now available at the flick's official site, and we've assembled the most intriguing tidbits for you right here.

NOTE: None of what we're about to reveal is technically a spoiler, and it definitely won't ruin the movie for you, but if you're one of those people who doesn't want to know anything about the flick before you see it, you might want to look away.


Harvey Dent's still helping crush crime in Gotham (sort of).

It's been eight years since the end of The Dark Knight, and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) have continued to keep up the lie that Batman was the one responsible for the death of Harvey Dent (who, in reality, met his end as the villainous Two-Face). This deception has allowed Gotham authorities to push an unprecedented anti-crime bill, the Dent Act, into law, and as a result the city is cleaner and safer than ever. But the lie weighs heavy on both Wayne and Gordon. One retreats into his rebuilt mansion, unsure how to let go of the Batman legacy, while the other may soon be forced out of a job. Though he's been dead for nearly a decade, Harvey Dent still casts a large shadow over the events of this film.


Bruce Wayne's not a billionaire playboy anymore.

The deaths of his lifelong friend Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and his new ally Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) at the end of The Dark Knight deeply traumatized Bruce Wayne. He retreated not only from the mantle of Batman, but also from the lively lifestyle he enjoyed as Gotham's billionaire son. David S. Goyer, who helped craft the film's story, says Wayne has rebuilt Wayne Manor and retreated into it "behind a veil of rumor and mystery." He's become a recluse, until he hosts a party in honor of Dent, and someone draws him out again.


Bane's not the one who first draws Bruce Wayne back out.

Though the masked terrorist will become his principal adversary soon enough, he's not what gets Wayne's blood pumping again. That honor goes to Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), an adept cat burglar who shows up at the Wayne Manor party and strikes a chord with Wayne. Hathaway even goes so far as to say that "Bruce owes Selina a big thank you."


Unlike in the comics, Bane doesn't wear the mask to gain super-strength.

Though comic book Bane (Tom Hardy) is addicted to a substance called Venom that imbues him with superhuman strength, that's not what Nolan's Bane wears a mask for. Yes, it's a delivery system for a drug, but not a drug to enhance his strength. According to the notes, the mask is used to "anesthetize himself against excruciating pain, resulting from injuries he suffered long ago." Does that mean he doesn't feel pain? And will those injuries play a part in how Batman fights him?


Miranda Tate is working on an "environmental project."

Though it's long been rumored that Marion Cotillard is really playing Talia al Ghul, daughter of Batman Begins villain Ra's al Ghul (who's appearing in the flick in some form), the official story is still that she's just Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate, a wealthy philanthropist who becomes an ally (and lover?) to Bruce Wayne. We know next to nothing about her, but the notes do reveal that she enlists Wayne's help for an "environmental project." It could mean nothing, but it could be part of a bigger plot. If she is Talia al Ghul, what's Tate really up to?


Alfred doesn't want Bruce to be Batman any more.

"There's always been that caution from Alfred that this is not the best thing for Bruce in the long run, and it comes to a head in this story," Bale said. Though Alfred has always been Bruce's protector and helper through the Batman saga, Nolan notes that the Wayne family butler always wanted an end to the fight. "Even though (Bruce) has no longer been going out every night wearing the cape and cowl, he clearly has not been able to put it behind him, and Alfred feels it's his duty to help Bruce find a way to do that," Nolan said.


The new Batcave is underwater.

Just as Bruce Wayne rebuilt Wayne Manor, he also reconstructed the Batcave beneath it, but with a few key changes. This time, the cave beneath the Wayne home is flooded, but that doesn't mean Batman's tools aren't there. According to production designer Nathan Crowley, "everything is hidden underwater. When you enter, it's just a cave, but you press a button and up come these perfect cubes that hold different objects, from the Batsuit to a super computer."


That football field explosion is only the beginning of what Bane's got planned.

We've all seen it in the trailers. The Gotham Rogues are in the midst of a big game, thousands of fans are cheering them on, then suddenly Bane pushes a button and the field disintegrates under the team's feet, leaving one lone player standing in the end zone looking down at a smoldering crater. It's a big moment, but according to the notes, it's just the way Bane "kicks off his revolution." If that's only how it starts, what's he got planned for the finale?


Bane's got his own kind of cave.

Batman's not the only guy who gets a lair. Bane sets up shop in the "sewer system beneath Gotham City." To make the hideout, the film's crew constructed "tunnels leading to a concrete and corrugated steel structure several stories high," and cinematographer Wally Pfister used "heavily overexposed lights to turn it into something that feels like an arena." If the trailers are any indication, it's definitely an arena for a Batman vs. Bane face-off.

To read the full set of production notes for yourself, including cast and crew bios, click here.

The Dark Knight Rises opens everywhere July 20.

(Via The Dark Knight Rises)

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