The Batman | 2022
The cathedral-like interior, where the memorial service for Mayor Mitchell is crashed by the DA’s car, is a wonderfully impressive studio set, built inside the Cardington Airship Hangar 1, frequently used as studio space by Christopher Nolan.
The resulting mayhem sees the Batman taken into custody but, before Gotham’s finest can so much as take off his mask, Gordon has facilitated his escape.
The ‘Gotham Police Department’ is the interior of the Lethaby Building, the old St Martins Central School of Art in London, Southampton Row at Theobalds Road in Holborn, WC1, just a short distance from the Kingsway Tram Tunnel.
Currently a space-for-hire, since the art school moved out it supplied the MI6 wartime HQ in The Imitation Game, with Benedict Cumberbatch as codebreaker Alan Turing, and the police department in Sarah Gavron’s 2015 Suffragette, with Carey Mulligan and Meryl Streep.
Sadly, it’s not open to the public so you can’t see first-hand that wonderful hexagonal staircase up which Batman escapes to the roof.
We don’t stay in one place for long. The GCPD roof turns out to be perhaps Liverpool’s most famous landmark and the symbol of the city – one of the two elaborate clocktowers of the Royal Liver Building, standing over the city’s port at Pier Head.
The Royal Liver Building has recently changed ownership and , after many decades of being inaccessible, you can now visit the West Clock Tower, just so long as you don’t try to imitate the film’s hero.
Batman takes a deep breath and leaps, only to find himself gliding along La Salle Street in Chicago, in another nod to previous Batman films.
Did you recognise this as the stretch of road where the 18-wheeler gets flipped over in The Dark Knight?
The other Gotham location, where Batman and Gordon meet up alongside the Bat Signal lamp, is a set, making use of the next generation of the process which used to be called back-projection. That magnificent sunset-lit skyline of the city is a vast wall of LED displays. Location finding just got a whole lot more difficult.
Tailing The Penguin leads them to a major drug drop at ‘Gotham Sanitation Department’, where complications see Oz roaring of in his Maserati with the Batmobile in hot pursuit.
The first part of the chase is filmed in deserted streets around the Coryton oil refinery in Essex, which closed in 2012 but, once they reach the highway, this is is a half-mile stretch of Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, its runway tricked out with streetlamps and a central divide.
Dunsfold was built by the Canadian Army during the Second World War and closed when they left in 1946. It’s no stranger to squealing tyres, though, after years of appearing as the private playground for the petrolhead boys of BBC’s TV’s Top Gear.
After the chase ends in the inevitable fiery crash, Gordon and Batman interrogate Penguin in another of Gotham's conveniently deserted industrial areas.
Those square concrete pillars are Millennium Mills, a derelict turn of the 20th century flour mill in West Silvertown on the south side of the Royal Victoria Dock, East London.
This disused complex of dockside mills have proved a gift to film-makers over the years. The now-demolished CWS Mill, which stood alongside, provided much of the grim/retro setting for Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.
One casual comment by Penguin gives Batman a pointer to an old orphanage “Where it all began” for the Riddler.
There are no new locations as the mystery continues to unfold, leading to the climax at ‘Gotham Square Garden’.
As we saw earlier, the exterior is the James R Thompson Center in Chicago, but the interior where panicked Gothamites gather to avoid the deluge is London’s O2 Arena – though COVID restrictions at the time of filming meant reducing the size of the crowds that had been planned.
If you’re not from the UK, a quick catch-up. This vast circular arena / events space was built as the Millennium Dome, to mark the year 2000 celebrations, on wasteland in East London . You can see it, under construction, at the end of the river chase in 1999 Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.
And, no, they didn’t flood the arena. As the waters rise, the production moved to a studio tank.
The gloomy cemetery, in which Batman reluctantly turns down the offer to go off with Selina, is Glasgow’s Necropolis, the city’s extravagant Victorian burial ground. The two bikes speeding past the carved memorials show the Necropolis at its best but there’s still a crafty little trick left.
They drive west from the cemetery across the stone arch, known as the Bridge of Sighs, on Church Street but the dark little Gothic tunnel they come to is the eastern entrance to Anfield Cemetery, on Cherry Lane, in Liverpool. But only for that brief moment.
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