10

In Batman Begins, Gotham has a futuristic/fictional and run down look: think of Oldtown, the trains built by the Wayne Corporation etc.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Gotham looks like plain old real world NYC - we don't see the trains anymore. Oldtown is just a standard poor neighborhood. Lots of the locations used in the movie are easily identified as real world NYC locations: the stock exchange or East River bridges for example.

My question is: Why did Nolan change Gotham city from a shady fictional more cartoon-like town to plain old NYC?

Edit: The examples from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises were just for illustration; I didn't intend to limit the question to those two movies.

Edit 2: I specifically want to know why Gotham was changed from a cartoon-like city in Begins to an almost real-world NYC in The Dark Knight Rises (via not so cartoon-like but not yet real-world like Chicago in The Dark Knight Rises). Why it's NYC or Chicago is not so important for me. But why, e.g., were the trains which featured prominently in Begins gone in The Dark Knight Rises? There was only a very short in-universe time-span between the events of the two movies, yet Gotham changed drastically.

  • 2
    related question on movies.stackexachange: Why was Gotham City moved to New York City in The Dark Knight Rises? - note that that question is asking more about filming locations than visual style. – phantom42 Nov 19 '13 at 17:48
  • Everything in the Nolan series is reflected in a real world sense. The Bat Mobile, The Joker, the city, etc. I think the idea was to show the Batman universe in a way we can relate to and not in the style of a comic book – Kai Qing Nov 16 '17 at 17:48
15

Thematically, it just makes sense.

When the series begins, Gotham City is incredibly corrupt and crime is rampant. Wayne Enterprises is run by a greedy CEO. Gotham City lives in fear, and the League of Shadows has deemed it so far gone, that it must be completely destroyed.

Then Batman arrives and starts protecting the city at the street level. Harvey Dent arrives and starts his war on crime on the more official level. Now instead of every citizen being a victim, you have many standing up to do the right thing. Bruce Wayne has turned Wayne Enterprises around. Gotham has started rebuilding itself from the ground up.

By the time Bane shows up, Gotham has made a lot of headway. It's the sort of big, successful city or metropolis (not to be confused with the city) that one typically identifies with modern cities such as New York.

You also have the whole dark-to-light theme of the series. Gotham starts a dark, dangerous place and becomes a bright and shiny place full of hope. This is expressed through the story itself, the color/lighting scheme and even the very design of Gotham City.

  • Didn't Nolan also say that he designed Gotham to be a sort of Pseudo-amalgam of Chicago and New York? I believe it was said in an interview when they were questioned why they shot scenes in both cities. I could be wrong on this though. – Jared Tritsch Nov 19 '13 at 17:26
  • @JaredTritsch, From everything I've read, TDKR was not filmed in Chicago. – phantom42 Nov 19 '13 at 17:45
  • @JaredTritsch The general idea though, is something I'm pretty sure I've read in the past, but wasn't able to find a source on this morning. I'll try digging a bit more tonight. – phantom42 Nov 19 '13 at 17:46
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    TDK (Second Movie) and Begins had several scenes shot in Chicago. Notably the Mayor's Funeral procession in TDK and the underground road scenes in both films (lower Wabash). – Jared Tritsch Nov 19 '13 at 17:49
  • @JaredTritsch, right, but the question was asking about TDKR which was filmed in New York, Pittsburgh, LA and France – phantom42 Nov 19 '13 at 17:50

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