Batman fans set up perch in Oakland

Fifth Avenue filming to resume today


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The night shift of "The Dark Knight Rises" fans missed Christian Bale and Tom Hardy but were treated to glimpses of a costumed Marion Cotillard along with Catwoman's apparent double and the promised explosions and smoke that closed some Oakland streets.

For the faithful who had spent the weekend across the street from the Mellon Institute on Fifth Avenue, seeing the caped crusader and villainous, back-breaking Bane was, well, old news. They wanted something fresh, something more, something featuring Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.

But rain -- even Mr. Bale took cover under an umbrella, his bat ears poking up over a sea of police caps -- and a long day brought filming to a halt just before 8 p.m. Wednesday. That means Catwoman could appear today as filming resumes inside and outside Mellon Institute, again forcing closure of nearby Fifth Avenue.

PG VIDEO: 'DARK KNIGHT RISES' IN OAKLAND
PG VIDEO: SPECIAL EFFECT ON THE SET

The prospect of being able to watch any shooting had inspired a road trip by Zack Cline, 23, and Nathan Fuller, 21, from Hartville, Ohio, near Akron, to Pittsburgh. Mr. Cline just graduated from Kent State University, and Mr. Fuller is still a student and fellow English major.

They booked a Motel 6, arrived Tuesday afternoon and went to Oakland to scout locations for watching and possible picture-taking and got within striking distance of the set Wednesday morning.

They landed near the porch claimed by the media and spotted Mr. Bale in the rubber suit and cowl along with a bald, menacing Mr. Hardy and were savvy enough to recognize cinematographer Wally Pfister.

Director Christopher Nolan later could be identified, thanks to his natty attire, which included a navy blazer. If anyone yelled "Cut!" you couldn't hear it over the groans of belching buses; an air horn sounded instead.

Mr. Cline, wearing one of the 20 Batman T-shirts he owns, admires the Dark Knight because "he is a real person with no powers."

The Ohioans, lifelong fans of Batman, were hoping that Ms. Hathaway's Catwoman might make an appearance, possibly on the motorcycle known as the Batpod bumping down the steps of the landmark.

Also making a pilgrimage to Pittsburgh was Eric Andreas of Bloomsburg, Columbia County, a superhero buff who predicts Ms. Hathaway will floor moviegoers much as Heath Ledger did in his Oscar-winning turn as the Joker in "The Dark Knight."

Although excited spectators at the corner of Fifth and Bellefield avenues periodically exclaimed, "I see him, I see him!" some saw Mr. Bale and some saw his double earlier in the day.

Bane seemed to have a couple of movie doppelgangers who could be spotted as fists and fake snow flew and an IMAX camera whirled, meaning this could be one of the scenes with wall-to-wall action come July 2012.

As it turned out, Batman wasn't the only guy in a cape and mask strutting around Oakland.

John DeSantes, 7, of Wexford, was in a red Superman cape while his brother, Patrick, 4, borrowed his blue Batman mask and long cape. They had considered Batman and Robin but went for the leading DC Comics superheroes rather than a star and a sidekick.

The boys were with their parents, Lisa and Tim, as filming resumed. Ms. DeSantes works for the University of Pittsburgh's Institutional Review Board, and a colleague tried to warn her away from having the boys come into Oakland due to detours. But Mr. DeSantes didn't mind, and the youngsters became media magnets.

What appeared to be the world's longest brawl -- or just an example of the pacing and detail of filmmaking -- was taking place. It seemed to be a continuation of scenes shot on Saturday and Sunday but under more suitably gloomy skies.

Brentwood's Dolores Argotti said this was a good opportunity to allow granddaughter Maya Jones, 5, of Carrick to see how movies are made and the fakery or magic of it.

Ms. Argotti counts the Batman movies with Mr. Bale and hometown favorite Michael Keaton as ones she could watch any time, although Maya tumbles for Justin Bieber.

Squirrel Hill's Tas Bessko, 8, turned up in his Batman outfit while his sister, Shyla, 3, swaddled her head in black fabric to make a costume of her own. Older brother Oisin, 11, said, "The story is good. We've seen the other ones. We just want to see Batman fight bad guys."

Rain, a lunch break that brought on-screen enemies together around tables under tents and a shift to interiors thinned the onlookers, although they rebounded around dinner time.

In a sad commentary on crowds, word was circulating that an onlooker had the cash from her fanny pack stolen. So -- in addition to bringing sunscreen, water and binoculars -- if you plan to chase Batman, make sure you're not an easy target for pickpockets.

On Saturday and Sunday, the action shifts to Heinz Field, where the Gotham Rogues will play the Rapid City Monuments. When cameras roll, extras will have to wear outerwear and pretend it's winter, although they can take their coats off in between shots and the production will try to keep them cool with access to fans, misters and water.

But they'll finally know just how Batman feels in the sticky heat.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Joey Nolfi: jnolfi@post-gazette.com .


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