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Examining Realism In Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy

September 27th, 2013 7:08am EDT

Batman Begins One could argue Batman Begins ushered in an era of darker, more realistic super hero films. Gone were the garish colors, cheesy one-liners, and "nippled" armor. But how realistic was Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy? In honor of the 6 disc Blu-ray Ultimate Collector's Edition, out this week, we take a look.
The Gadgets and Equipment:
A preface: Projects for the military can be expensive (it can cost billions of dollars to design and prototype vehicles) so consider money no object for Wayne Enterprises. Just because something doesn't exist yet doesn't mean it's not plausible, if you throw enough money at it.

The grapple gun is used constantly by the Caped Crusader, considering he can't fly. Batman can fire the weapon at the edges of buildings and get lifted away seconds later, or use it to descend and get the jump on baddies like he did in Batman Begins. However, such a device doesn't exist yet - not that people aren’t trying. An MIT student made a 25 pound belt that can lift someone up to 250 pounds 50 feet into the air… although at a very low speed. Technology is based on making things smaller and smaller while allowing them to still function - so the grapple gun as it is seen in the trilogy is plausible.

The Bat-Suit has always been iconic - but it was a hindrance until Christopher Nolan's trilogy. Remember Batman and Batman Returns, where Michael Keaton had to turn his whole body to look at you? Gone, thanks to the new Bat-Suit. In the Dark Knight Trilogy, his suit features bullet-proof armor: Kevlar bi-weave and reinforced joins make sure he can withstand some firepower. Kevlar is currently in use by American military forces and police.
After being upgraded in The Dark Knight, the suit features over 100 separate plates over a "titanium mesh." Similar ceramic plates are being developed by private companies like Ceradyne for military use. Numerous, smaller plates allow for more motion over a single Kevlar piece, which allows him to do simple things like turn his head. As a bonus, the suit features Nomex, which is a real material made by DuPont (who also makes Kevlar) and is flame-resistant.

In Batman Begins, Bruce Wayne is shown "memory cloth," which would allow him to create a came that could suddenly extend and remain rigid, allowing him to glide from high places. Similar cloth is in development by scientists, but it's not something we've figured out how to do yet. Plus, landing is an issue: falling from such heights would generate tons of speed, and today's "wing suits" feature a parachute slows them down to land - something Batman doesn't use. So while gliding is plausible, Batman still needs to figure out a way to get back on his feet!
Remember the informant in Hong Kong being whisked away by an airplane in The Dark Knight? That system exists - and has since the 1960s under the name Skyhook. As helicopters became more prevalent the idea of picking someone up via Skyhook died - unless you needed to pull someone out the side of a building like Batman did.

The Vehicles:
In Christopher Nolan's Trilogy, The Batmobile is no longer a street demon with little use off-road. Nicknamed "The Tumbler," Batman's vehicle of choice appears to be influenced by a Stryker armored combat vehicle. However, Strykers can only travel 62 MPH, so they have a way to go to match The Tumbler. There have also been cars with jet engines attached to them - for better or worse. It also featured rear-facing cameras (found in family cars today) and dozens of weapons (not found in today's cars).

The Batpod made a splashy debut in The Dark Knight by making a 90 degree turn by simply swinging to the side and letting its wheels flip over. Surprisingly, this is entirely plausible. Several prototypes have existed for years where an electric vehicle has its engine based inside the wheel. However, the Batpod would need some sort of electric steering setup, as the tumbling wheels would not allow for conventional steering. The bike is actually steered with shoulder sleeves and would take some time to get used to - so Catwoman probably wouldn't be able to pick it up so easily like she did in The Dark Knight Rises.

The Bat was the new vehicle featured in The Dark Knight Rises. Several VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft exist in the military, one of the most famous being the Harrier Jump Jet. So while similar aircraft can be found in the world, there are none quite like The Bat, which has its main rotor on the bottom of the center of the aircraft - and that is the key issue where physic is involved. "Think of the problem of balancing a broomstick on your palm," a project manager from U.S. military told InnovationNewsDaily. The other issue is that such power will definitely flatten anyone around or below the vehicle as it went by. So while The Bat looks cool, don't expect a real version anytime in the near future.

The Dark Knight's Career:
Perhaps the most realistic part of Christopher Nolan's Trilogy is the short and violent career of Batman.
Bruce Wayne's training would probably take a decade by normal means, if we were to compare it to becoming a black belt in a martial art. We suppose a secret ninja clan may be able to train Bruce faster, but that may actually hinder him: the training will make his bones harder and less likely to break over time, a phenomenon we see in Muay Thai and Judo fighters. In Batman begins, it's unclear how long he trains, but it's over several years.

When you think about it, Batman only has two deadly confrontations (Ra's Al Ghul and The Joker/Two-Face) before he retires. He is then thrust back into action when Bane shows up years later. Compare that to a boxer, UFC fighter, or even an NFL running back, who has a prime portion of their career that lasts 2-5 years before their performance drops.

In The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce is already suffering from the debilitating effects of his lifestyle: a doctor notes the lack of cartilage in this knees and the build-up of scar tissue. Luckily, he has technology to stabilize his knees, but Bane still has youth on his side and proves to be a deadly opponent.
So while Bruce's career as Batman appears to be short, it's actually fairly equal to that of someone in a similarly physical (and deadly) occupation.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the realism of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. Be sure to check out The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector's Edition, which came out this week. The 6 Blu-ray disk set comes with over 90 minutes of new special features, Mondo villain art posters, and more. You can find it on Amazon.

Related: Batman Begins, Christopher Nolan, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, New Movies on Blu-ray & DVD, Starpulse Exclusives, Movies

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