"The Dark Knight Rises" has been one of the most tightly guarded summer blockbusters in Hollywood history.
With a mere two weeks to go before the final film in Christopher Nolan's superhero trilogy hits theaters, Warner Bros. is dropping some key hints about what Batman faces in his battle to save Gotham City from Bane and Catwoman.
The nuggets come in the form of production notes that the studio placed on the film's website this week, and while they don't contain spoilers exactly, they do provide the most comprehensive look at "The Dark Knight Rises" so far.
It's 49 pages of geeky goodness, but if you don't have the time to read up on what fresh menaces await Batman, here are five secrets that the production notes reveal.
WHY BATMAN PUTS ON THE CAPE AGAIN
When we last left Gotham, Batman was bravely accepting blame for a series of murders committed by Two-Face so Harvey Dent could remain a hero to the besieged city. According to the production notes, the latest film opens eight years after the events of "The Dark Knight," with Bruce Wayne settling into superhero retirement.
Based on the trailers, it seems as though the billionaire playboy's crime-fighting reprieve is cut short by the appearance of the villainous Bane, but first impressions can be deceiving.
In fact, the notes say that Batman is motivated to put on the cape and cowl because of Selina Kyle, a cat burglar who is known in the comics as Catwoman. It also sounds like the two meet cute at a benefit honoring Harvey Dent Day hosted for the city's finest by Bruce Wayne.
"We felt very strongly that we should have Catwoman in this film, but we always look for an organic way of grounding the characters in our world," Nolan says in the production notes. "Selina is a cat burglar, a grifter, a classic movie femme fatale, really. That was my way in, and we drew the iconic figure of Catwoman from that.”
WHAT BATMAN DRIVES
The Batmobile is so passé. In this go-round, Batman is taking to the skies to defend Gotham. Get ready for the Bat-Pod, a car/plane hybrid.
The Bat-Pod is outfitted with the same monster truck tires as Batman's old car, the Tumbler, according to the production notes. It also sports blast cannons, 50-caliber machine guns and grappling hook launchers. No word on the sound system.
WHY BANE WEARS A MASK
Like Batman, Bane, the burly bruiser who terrorizes Gotham, wears a mask. But it's not about keeping his identity a secret. As the production notes reveal, the super-villain needs it to stay alive. The head-gear contains a device that anesthetizes Bane against crippling pain he suffered long ago.
But Tom Hardy, the actor who is playing the villain, says that even with the souped-up mouth-guard, Bane is something of a Chatty Cathy.
"He is florid in his speech, but has the physicality of a gorilla," Hardy says. "So while he is quite articulate, we also wanted to establish a very imposing presence.”
WHO MARION COTILLARD AND JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT PLAY
Two newcomers to the Batman universe, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, play roles that were created expressly for the film instead of plucked out of D.C. Comics lore.
Cotillard will play Miranda Tate, a member of the board at Wayne Enterprises who helps Bruce Wayne fight off a hostile takeover bid. She also encourages the billionaire playboy to uses his moneybags to support an "environmental project."
"She is beautiful, smart and altruistic, and all the good that she aspires to earns his respect and also intrigues him a great deal," Christian Bale who plays Bruce Wayne/Batman says in the notes.
As for Gordon-Levitt, he plays police officer John Blake, a protégé of Commissioner Gordon.
“John Blake is the kind of guy who probably always wanted to be a cop and dedicates himself to being excellent at his job," Gordon-Levitt says. "He is someone who believes in what he does and I admire that in anybody. In the midst of a lot of cynicism, he remains proud to be a police officer.”
WHY "APPRENTICE" FANS WILL RECOGNIZE BRUCE WAYNE'S OFFICE
The Trump Tower, that gleaming 58-story manifestation of Donald Trump's ego, makes a cameo appearance in "The Dark Knight Rises." The Midtown Manhattan landmark serves as the exterior for Wayne Enterprises and the place where Bruce Wayne goes to say "you're fired."