The Dark Knight Rises
July 27, 2012
In this third and final installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Costume Designer Lindy Hemming, who’s served as CD for the entire trilogy and won a CDG Award for her work in 2008’s The Dark Knight, was required to design ensembles for two new major characters. Costumes for vicious mercenary Bane (played by actor Tom Hardy) and cat burglar Selina Kyle (played by actress Anne Hathaway) were designed with Nolan’s commitment to realism in mind, Hemming says.
“The challenges―especially when dealing with established and well known characters, such as comic book superheroes―are to try to design costumes which work well for the actor in their character, and suit both [Nolan] and my own desire for reality and believability,” the designer says. “But they must also be interesting to look at, different from previous interpretations, and still recognizable to the all-knowing fans and aficionados.”
For example, Selina’s catsuit needed to fulfill the slinky form of her comic-book persona while fulfilling the practical function of night-prowling cat burglar attire. Hemming produced a lightweight, matte black catsuit that would allow the character to move fluidly and discretely. Her accessories were also practical: a belt stocked with miniature burglary tools, pumps equipped with knife-like stiletto heels, and a dual “night vision goggle-jeweler’s loupe” contraption (which resembles cat ears when pulled back atop Hathaway’s head).
Executing Bane’s authentic, world-worn look was a challenging feat. The character requires constant use of an anesthetic-emitting mask to survive, and wears durable clothing that (per the character’s history) has likely been constructed in base camps on his travels—so his look needed to be battered yet resilient. Hemming began her initial design brainstorming with Nolan at his L.A. home, fleshing out the character. “My main inspiration was Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz [in Apocalypse Now],” she says. After sketching hundreds of full mask models outfitted with tubes and pipes, Hemming says the duo had a breakthrough. “One day [Nolan] had a brainwave about removing the sides of the head of the mask, and we were off.” The end result was a helmet-like design that left a large, Brando-esque bald expanse of Hardy’s head exposed, and was constructed with the help of a sculptor. Bane’s clothing and armor were sourced from old army tents, parachutes and harnesses. “He literally grew from army surplus scraps,” Hemming says, “and everything he wore had to be made in many exact multiples, due to the action sequences.”