Filmmaker Christopher Nolan placed his distinctive stamp on Batman with three great movies about the Dark Knight. Production designer Nathan Crowley worked with Nolan on all three films in The Dark Knight trilogy. In an interview with Collider, Crowley revealed how the iconic Batcycle first seen in The Dark Knight had actually already been built in secret while Nolan was shooting the prequel Batman Begins.
"That was actually a Warner Bros. executive in early garage times saying, 'Hey, the bike could come out of the car'. It might have even been on Batman Begins... It was like, 'I think they're right, we have to pull the bike out of the car'. Then it became this secrecy of we couldn't say there's a bike in it, and he has to sacrifice the Batmobile and the phoenix has to arrive in the form of the bike."
"So we sort of snuck up to Warner Bros. and nicked the tires off the Batmobile and brought them back to the garage, but we couldn't tell anyone why we were doing it."
And so, the Batmobile that showed up for the first time in Batman Begins was already designed to break apart and reveal the Bat-bike hiding within. But it was only in the sequel, The Dark Knight, that fans got to see that mechanism in action, when Joker destroys the Batmobile with a rocket launcher, and Batman chases the villain down on the dramatically revealed bike instead. For Crowley, the way they were able to handle The Dark Knight is how he had always wanted to approach the franchise.
"For me - I don't think this is true for Chris - The Dark Knight is actually the Batman I always wanted to make, but we had to step over Batman Begins to get to it. I am a desperate modernist. I like simplicity. On Batman Begins, I struggled with trying to make sure we didn't destroy the comic book-ness of what Batman was and we tried to explain everything - there was the cave and Wayne Manor and how that worked and how you got down to it. There was lots of explanation in the design, and I'm grateful for Chris because he burned everything down [at the end of] Batman Begins."
While the second movie is widely considered the high-point of The Dark Knight trilogy, Crowley was also at Christopher Nolan's side crafting the final movie in the series, The Dark Knight Rises, which allowed the creative team to expand the world of Batman far beyond Gotham.
"We've done these films in between the Batman films, like The Prestige got slotted in there and the was very low budget. We sort of slowly discovered the beauty and the advantage of getting around locations and getting as many as possible. So by the time we get to The Dark Knight Rises, we're going to like three different countries. And that really expands the scope of the film practically."
These quotes about the secrecy behind the Batcycle come from Collider.