Christopher Nolan’s Caped Crusader trilogy transformed modern superhero blockbusters and won Oscar acclaim thanks to its serious approach and melancholy subtext.
But ‘Batman Begins’ (2005), ‘The Dark Knight’ (2008) and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (2012) are also packed with Easter eggs and in-jokes ready to be spotted by the most eagle-eyed and dedicated fans.
We’ve rounded up the best. NOTE: CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Bruce Wayne’s car reveals his idenity
No-one seems to realise that egotistical billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is actually Batman, thanks to his nifty costumes and a voice that must require four gallons of honey and lemon tea every night. But Bruce gives everyone a deft clue via his car, which is a Lamborghini Murciélago. Murciélago is Spanish for bat.
Chris Nolan shows his love for Sheffield United
Christopher Nolan is a Sheffield United fan and showed his appreciation in ‘Batman Begins’ courtesy of a young boy who interacts with Bruce at a market. The kid is wearing a Blades shirt.
‘Rory’s First Kiss’
Like other blockbusters before it, ‘The Dark Knight’ tried to throw reporters off the scent during filming by adopting a fake name. The movie was referred to as ‘Rory’s First Kiss’ while shooting – Rory is the name of Nolan’s son.
‘A Tale of Two Cities’ inspired ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
Jonathan Nolan, Chris’s brother and frequent collaborator, has often cited Charles Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ as an inspiration for ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. In the latter movie, Burn Gorman plays Stryver and Josh Stewart is Barsad, also the names of characters in Dickens’ classic.
The Nolan films share a strange link with the Burton ones
The new versions do share DNA with Tim Burton’s version of the story, though in a rather strange way. Italian actor Adriano Giannini dubbed Heath Ledger’s Joker for the Italian version of the movie. His father Giancarlo (who you might recognise as Mathis in the Daniel Craig Bond films) was Jack Nicholson’s similar counterpart back in 1989.
The Joker’s card is the same in the comics
Nolan’s vision often hewed close to the comic books (unlike Burton and Schumacher) and rarely more so than at the end of ‘Batman Begins’ when we see the Joker’s “business card”. Funnybook fans will recognise it as the same design used by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean in their seminal 1989 graphic novel ‘Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth’. What’s more, Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) gives it to Batman in a police evidence bag bearing the name J. Kerr. Joe Kerr (geddit) was occasionally used by the supervillain as an alter ego in the comics.
The warehouse address in TDK is no coincidence
In ‘The Dark Knight’, the address of the warehouse where Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is killed and where Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) later holds Gordon and his family hostage is 250 52nd Street in Gotham. That’s a subtle nod to Dent and his transformation into Two-Face – the address is a palindrome (the same from back to front), hinting at Harvey’s dual identity. In case you hadn’t cottoned on to that, if you say it out loud, it also includes the phrase 50-50.
The Joker’s nurse outfit is a tribute to Ledger’s daughter
One of the most iconic scenes in ‘The Dark Knight’ is Heath Ledger dressed as a nurse. Look very carefully during the movie and you can see his name tag says “Matilda”. Matilda is the name of the late actor’s daughter with Michelle Williams.
The crew are in the film
It’s a well-known privilege that production designers and their team can slip their names and those of their friends and their family into elements of the production. Case in point: the journalist who has written the story about Wayne Manor burning down in ‘Batman Begins’ is Julie Ochipinti, aka the assistant set decorator.
Gordon-Levitt’s jacket is a nod to the comics
Very few people knew that Robin was going to get a mention at the end of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, but ardent Batman nerds will have predicted it (by a few seconds). As Joseph Gordon-Levitt is walking into what he realises is the Batcave, he’s wearing a black jacket with a blue stripe. Bats fans will know that’s very similar to the costume worn by Nightwing, the superhero that the original Robin morphs into in the canon of the comics.
Photos: Rex/Shutterstock/PA/Giphy/Warner Bros.