When you’re a lifelong Batman fan, being asked to visit the set of the next major motion picture featuring your favorite fictional character is getting the chance of a lifetime.
On our visit to the set of The Dark Knight Rises, we toured Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, home of the football Steelers, which had been turned into the stadium of the Gotham Rogues, Gotham's hometown football team. This was a home game against the Rapid City Monuments, and it was about to get a very unexpected and unwelcomed visitor. We were there as press, sure, but we were also part of the staggering 11,000 extras who lined a little more than one quarter of the stands.
Fans cheered as the Rogues pressed forward, through the Monuments line, but those cheers quickly turned to screams when between 30-50 armed men dressed like guerilla warriors appeared both on the field and in the stands, aiming their weapons at the fans forcing them to stay in their places.
After observing a few takes of this, eventually the field was cleared as hundreds of small pellets were spread across the field by technicians. After a little bit of a wait, over the megaphone a countdown began at three and was followed by a camera skimming the surface of the field as all of the small pellets erupted, sending dirt and dust into the air, which created a giant plume for what would become the destruction of the entire field (see image above).
Shortly afterward, I got weak in the knees as I saw the man himself appear through the far end of the field: Bane. Tom Hardy in full costume and a heavy coat walked out onto the field with a message for all the assembled fans. He grabs a microphone off of a dead referee, and says: “Gotham! Take control! Take control of your city!” Behind Bane, a couple of the guerilla-looking soldiers wheeled out a large chrome sphere. We weren’t informed of what it was. A bomb, maybe?
“This is the instrument of your liberation!” Bane said. [Possible spoilers ahead: Soon after, a hostage is brought out on the field by Bane’s soldiers. After a few words are spoken between he and Bane, the villain grabs him by the neck and breaks it, with the hostage crumpling to the ground.]
Other things that were not a part of the scene that we were able to observe included three desert-camouflaged Tumblers driving out onto the field, causing everyone to erupt. One of the Tumblers actually conducted a test shot against an explosive pellet, the same kind that would later be used across the field to depict its destruction before the visual effects team makes it appear like a crater is in the ground.
Everything in the scene that we observed really felt like a chaotic war was quite literally erupting in the city, and it will be very, very interesting to see how the scene is constructed in the final release. In the meantime, you can check out clips from it in the below trailer.
Read our other reports from the set of The Dark Knight Rises:
The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters on July 20th.