Dark Knight Rises: Bat-Pod
One of the challenges of playing Catwoman was riding the Bat-Pod, the two-wheeled street machine that made its debut in “The Dark Knight.” Designed by Chris Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley, the Bat-Pod was made a reality by special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and his team.
The Bat-Pod sports the same monster truck tires as those on the original Batmobile—better known in the Dark Knight trilogy as the Tumbler. Although it looks rather unwieldy, the Bat-Pod is fast and maneuverable, as well as fully equipped with blast cannons, 50-caliber machine guns and grappling hook launchers.
The Bat-Pod is street-worthy but not easy to ride, requiring strength and a specific technique to control it. During the making of “The Dark Knight,” the only one who could actually drive it was professional stunt rider Jean-Pierre Goy. Goy did return to ride the Bat-Pod for scenes in “The Dark Knight Rises.” However, he did have one obvious drawback, as Hathaway relates: “I was standing there with Chris, looking at the Bat-Pod, and he was telling me about Jean-Pierre and how he’s the only person in the world who can drive it. And I turned to him and said, ‘Can he look like a woman?’”
Struthers had the exact same thought, noting, “There’s no way that a man would ride the Bat-Pod the same way as a woman. But we found the right lady for the job.”
Professional motocross racer and stunt rider Jolene Van Vugt—the first female ever to backflip a full-size dirt bike—came on board to double Hathaway when Catwoman hits the streets of Gotham on the Bat-Pod. “I was beyond excited when I got the call,” Van Vugt recalls. “When they asked me if I thought I could ride it, I said, ‘You give me the opportunity, and I guarantee I can do it.’ The biggest hurdle was getting used to the body position because of the way you have to lean forward. It was just a matter of finding my balance and building up my comfort level, but within a few hours I was racing around, having fun.”
Corbould did make some adjustments to the Bat-Pod to allow for a female rider. “It’s a heavy machine, so we remade some of the frame in aluminum, including the whole front end, to make it lighter and give Jolene a chance to do some spectacular maneuvers,” he says.
The Bat-Pod and the Tumbler have given Batman both mobility and firepower on the streets of Gotham, but in this film, he can finally go “wheels up,” thanks to Lucius Fox’s latest contribution to his arsenal: The Bat. Nolan and Crowley collaborated on the design of the state-of-the-art airborne machine, which borrows elements of an Apache attack helicopter, an Osprey prop jet, and a Harrier jump jet. And, naturally, it had to come in black.
In keeping with the idea that The Bat was an invention of Wayne Enterprises Applied Science Division, Crowley says, “We took the approach that this would be a credible military project, and that gave us a good basis. From a design standpoint, the most important thing was that The Bat fit into the same family as our Batmobile. Initially, it was a matter of finding the shape; we went through many different design sketches before I began modeling something.”
Nolan adds, “From a function perspective, the idea was a double-bladed chopper, where the rotors are configured underneath the vehicle and the air is channeled down through the vents above. It has flaps and louvers that change its aerodynamics and allow it to maneuver around buildings.”
Chris Corbould details, “There are a lot of moving parts: the cockpit opens; the aerial flaps all operate; and it has working rotors and lights. It’s nearly 30 feet long and 17 feet wide and weighs about 3,000 pounds; it’s a big piece of machinery. We employed a variety of different methodologies to make The Bat ‘fly,’ because Chris’s mantra is he wants to do as much as possible before letting CGI take over. So we had it supported on wires, running along high lines, suspended from cranes or helicopters, and mounted on a specially constructed vehicle fitted with hydraulic controls.”
Corbould admits that the one concession they had to make was that The Bat could not take off and soar on its own. “To get something like that off the ground was beyond our capabilities. I’d be a very rich man if I could build something like that that could actually fly,” he laughs.
Leave a Reply
- Cannes 2013: Most Popular Films Ever
- Nicole Kidman: Jury Member in 2013 Cannes Fest
- Anchorman 2 Teaser
- Fast & Furious 6: London, Glasgow, Liverpool
- Fast & Furious 6: Vehicular Warfare:
- Fast && Furious 6: Stunts
- Fast & Furious 6: The Newcomers
- Fast & Furious 6: Family Reunion
- Cannes 2013: Gunshots Heard; Christoph Waltz Rushed Off Stage
- Cannes 2013: Weinstein Presents Oscar Hopefuls
- Angelina Jolie Double Mastectomy–Talk of Cannes Film Fest
- Cannes Fest 2013: Jerry Lewis Double Bill