The Batman featured an entirely new look at the world of Gotham, and the film’s production designer is revealing where he took his inspiration from to create the legendary sanitarium that houses the Dark Knight’s foes.
Before jumping into The Batman, director Matt Reeves gained acclaim for his work on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. Reeves used the same production designer for both of those films and brought him over to create a Gotham that hasn’t quite been put on screen before. James Chinlund was up to the task, making Gotham City a dark, dreary, and sometimes neon-soaked hub for crime and debauchery.
Chinlund was not only tasked with building out Gotham, but also some of the most iconic Batman locations such as the Iceberg Lounge and Arkham Asylum. When it comes to Arkham, Chinlund used a specific film to shape his design, and exclusively spoke to The Illuminerdi about how that set-up played into the reveal of the newest iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime.
THE BATMAN INTERVIEW – HOW JAMES CHINLUND CREATED ARKHAM ASYLUM
The Illuminerdi: Now among other new recreations, we get to see a new take on Arkham Asylum. How did you achieve the feeling of claustrophobia and insanity while still leaving room for the audience to wonder who or what was right around the corner in the next cell?
“There’s a Japanese film called High Low. That was very inspiring to Matt where there’s sort of a reveal, the screen goes up and they’re in this interrogation room. So I think we were really looking at different ways of revealing the characters. We knew that we wanted the Joker, for example, to be there, but not there, and sort of layers of glass and mesh and shadow and light. So a lot of the design was coming from that place. Like how could we reveal the characters in different ways and still maintain mystery?”James Chinlund, The Illuminerdi Interview
The Illuminerdi: Speaking of the Joker, what did you have to consider for those scenes in your design?
“It was just what I said in terms of like showing him, but not showing too much sort of what is a reveal and what’s not a reveal because we knew we wanted to keep that secret for as long as we could. So it was sort of like unpacking the layers for the audience in terms of how they discovered who he was.”James Chinlund, The Illuminerdi Interview
The look and feel of Arkham, and Gotham as a whole, became instantly iconic in The Batman, and is a world that fans are going to get to see more of. After pulling in more than $768 million worldwide, a sequel to The Batman has been greenlit, and will hopefully be hitting theaters in the near future. Now that Reeves has worked with him three times, and since he helped create the look of Gotham in The Batman, Chinlund will more than likely be returning for the follow-up to keep the same aesthetic throughout the entire franchise. Since there are also a couple of spin-off series in the works for HBO Max.
It will be interesting to see if Chinlund will be brought over to help design those shows as well. After working on The Batman, the two Apes films, The Avengers, and 2019’s The Lion King, Chinlund certainly has the pedigree to be able to pull it off.
The Batman is now available on HBO Max and Digital and will be available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD on May 24. Have you watched The Batman since it was added to HBO Max? What do you think about the design of Arkham Asylum? Make sure to let us know in the comments, and follow us on social media for more!