Examining Realism In Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy
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 like other super heroes. 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 than 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 cape that could suddenly extend and remain rigid when given an electric or magnetic charge, 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 to the degree of The Dark Knight. 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.