The Dark Knight Bank Heist: Breaking Down The Opening of a Masterpiece

We break down the iconic, IMAX-filmed bank robbery opening of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece The Dark Knight.

If you were to ask 100 people their favorite comic book movie, I’d say that a majority of those people would at least consider The Dark Knight. Christopher Nolan’s 2008 crime thriller leans heavily into the grounded aspects of the world’s greatest detective and over the years has cemented itself as one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. Starring Christian Bale as Batman and fan-favorite Heath Ledger as the Joker- this movie would reach far beyond comic book fans and has even gained appreciation as high-brow cinema in the years since its release. In traditional Nolan fashion, The Dark Knight doesn’t waste any time getting to the good stuff. With no opening title sequence, you’re flung directly into a bank heist in the heart of Gotham City and the action never lets up from there. There’s a new villain in town, the Joker, and he’s prepared to do anything in order to prove that Batman isn’t so different from the criminals he’s sworn to bring to justice. 

The opening scene demonstrates astonishing IMAX visuals and an intense introduction to the movie’s antagonist. It was said that the scene was as intense behind the scenes as it was in front on camera. Shooting took place in Chicago’s downtown area and even used real Chicago citizens as extras in the scene- this includes real Chicago firefighters, off-duty police, and even regular people on their way through downtown. But it wasn’t all fun and games for the cast and crew. Did you know that during filming inside the bank that there was an actual fire in the building that was ignored for almost an hour because everyone watching assumed it was part of the production? Or did you know that the scene where a full-sized school bus is backed into the bank took multiple hours to shoot because the bus needed to be taken apart and re-assembled inside the bank’s lobby? Can you imagine the amount of labor that goes into a 5 second sequence? Well, one thing is for sure- there is almost no scene in a superhero movie more iconic and more outright thrilling than this one. And if you want to hear some more juicy behind-the-scenes details, check out our Scene Breakdown (watch all of them here) episode where we get into all the good stuff that makes up our favorite movie scenes!

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/the-dark-knight-bank-heist/

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