With The Dark Knight Rises — Christopher Nolan's final installment in his Batman trilogy — hitting screens in less than two weeks (July 20), Warner Bros. is offering fans a buzzy new 13-minute behind-the-scenes featurette. In addition to previously unseen footage, the segment features interviews with the cast and crew, including Dark Knight veterans Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Michael Caine (Alfred), and Gary Oldman (Commissioner Gordon), as well as newcomers like Anne Hathaway (Selena Kyle/Catwoman), Tom Hardy (Bane), and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (police officer John Blake). Although numerous trailers and teasers have already been picked apart by a voracious blogosphere, plot details remain remarkably thin: All we really know is that Batman has been missing from Gotham for several years, leaving the city overrun by criminals. Naturally, tantalized critics are analzying every second of this newest teaser. Here, five key talking points:
1. The movie is even darker than we expected
"The images are dark, the music is an eerie piano anthem, and the hero is a disgraced man whose face is bloody and beaten," says Jenna Milly at She Knows. Yes, Christopher Nolan's obsession with human psyche's grim darkside (see: Inception, The Prestige) once again pervades his most ambitious film yet, and the "villainous" tone is wholly relevant from this latest insider look. As far as summer blockbusters go, "The Dark Knight Rises is no Avengers."
2. Tom Hardy is a giddy Batman fan
The Nolan regular assumes the role of Bane, a hulking, brutish assassin who breathes menacingly through a mask. Although he's the latest to play foil to Bale's conflicted take on Bruce Wayne/Batman, in this featurette he reveals feeling a giddy excitement just seeing his onscreen counterpart getting ready. When he first sees Bale donning his Batman get-up in the makeup chair, he goes into "full childlike squeal mode," says Michelle Lee at Hollywood.com. "There's a 3-year-old in me saying 'That's Batman,'" says a laughing Hardy. Make no mistake: The man's a full-fledged fanboy.
3. Who's that mystery child?
One shot that seems to be generating "the most controversy" is a brief scene with a young bald child behind prison bars, says Scott Johnson at ComicBook.com. Who could it be? There's speculation that the kid is a young Bane, which would make sense since the character's backstory has him raised in Peña Duro prison in the middle of the Caribbean. Yet there's another rumor that the child is a young Talia Al Ghul, the erstwhile daughter to actor Liam Neeson's Ra's al Ghul in the first film, Batman Begins. In the comics, she plays another one of Batman's love interests.
4. Anne Hathaway might pull off Catwoman
Diehard fans questioned whether the Princess Diaries actress had the chops to play Selena Kyle/Catwoman, the acrobatic seductress and on-again-off-again love interest to the caped crusader. Nolan himself admitted he was "nervous" about bringing such a complex character to the big screen, says Hollywood.com's Lee, but in this extended cut Hathaway offers fans some solace when she explains her nuanced take on how Kyle "couldn't just be this femme fatale," and ultimately is driven by her own code of ethics "whether they're accepted by others" or not. Plus she looks great, says Jessica Wakeman at Blackbook Mag. Women "will covet [Hathaway's] red lipstick and body in that skintight cat unitard."
5. Everything about the film is larger than life
Shooting took place in India, the U.K., Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Manhattan, and literally thousands of extras were brought onboard to shoot the movies massive scenes — all without anyone being digitally replicated with CGI. "I couldn't help but get chills when [Nolan] said it was the biggest film he's taken on by far," says Jesse Carp at CinemaBlend. "Maybe it's just me but I thought Inception was pretty big." The director's commitment to capturing as much footage as he can "in-camera" is one of his big screen hallmarks, and "one of the major reasons his trips to Gotham have been so great."
Watch the featurette below: