Gotham Cathedral was a monolithic cathedral that stood more than 800 feet from the ground. It was once intended to be the spiritual center of Gotham City, the cathedral fell into ruin as the city itself fell into corruption and decay.
With stone gargoyles and tolling bells that watched over Gotham from its towers; it was designed conceptually to keep evil at bay, the cathedral easily dwarfed the surrounding buildings of Gotham.
Being the tallest structure in Gotham's skyline, it seemed to be a prime location for Batman to scale, perch, and survey while on patrol. Early in his career, all Batman had to do was follow the screams echoing from the streets.
After he hijacked Gotham's 200th Anniversary Parade, the Joker destroyed the Batwing, which crashed into the steps of the cathedral. Vicki Vale desperately inspected the wreckage to no avail and Joker arrived shortly after and kidnapped her. After he knew that the police would soon be in pursuit, Joker decided to retreat to the top of the cathedral, seemingly on a whim in order to meet his chopper. Like many other buildings that followed the path of the parade, Joker Goons were likely planted at the cathedral as well. The Gymnast Joker Goon, who was actually on the float with Joker also traveled to the top of the cathedral at an unknown point in time, possibly when Joker ordered his men to clear the streets for his confrontation with the Batwing.
Batman also pursued Joker up the stairway of Gotham Cathedral to rescue Vicki as well as avenge his parents' murder. An ensuing battle resulted in serious damage to the cathedral's steps and belfry and saw the deaths of the Joker and a couple of his henchmen.
Behind the Scenes
- "I basically stretched Gaudí into a skyscraper and added a castle feel which was especially influenced by the look of the Japanese fortress."
- ―Anton Furst
- In the various screenplays, Batman used a Sonar device to summon bats in the belltower to swarm the Joker, causing him to fall.
- Orignally the Batsignal was going to be projected against the cathedral, like the more realistic signal in Frank Miller's 1986 Dark Knight series. Batman was shown watching over the city from the belltower, like at the start of the film. In a 2014 interview, Sam Hamm lamented the exclusion of the original Batsignal introduction, calling it "highly ingenious." In the comic adaptation this is how the signal is projected.
- The cathedral was a key dramatic device in the film and was called the "establishing part of the city" by Anton Furst.
- The challenge in its design was to create a cathedral which was taller than the tallest skyscraper and still make it credible, with its design intending to be over 1,000 feet (300 metres) high. Furst found inspiration in the knowledge that some of the 1930s skyscrapers in New York produced a cathedral effect by means of Gothic detail. Furst also found inspiration in the works of Spanish architect Gaudi; who is best known for his cone-shaped cathedral in Barcelona.
- Because filming in and around the cathedral was complicated, full-size set-pieces were built on both the outside lot and the studio to represent the top and bottom of the building, while two other scales were employed to construct the length in between.
Background Information and Notes
- The cathedral was mentioned in the movie's novelization as 800 feet tall, which would have made it the tallest cathedral in the world.
- As with the other landmarks depicted in first movie, the Cathedral was not seen in Batman Returns in spite being set in the same city. A new cathedral was featured in Gotham Plaza, where Batman first confronted the Penguin outside its doors.
- The Cathedral was a place of comfort for Bruce in Mark Protosevich's Batman Unchained drafts.
The cathedral became such a popular location and a recognized Batman landmark that similar cathedrals started appearing in comic books and other Batman media.
The cathedral bells were also used as a noted sound that related to Batman's presence; most notably described in The Return of Bruce Wayne comic event.
In other media
Gotham Cathedral made an appearance in the Joker story of LEGO Batman: The Videogame. The Joker and his group planned to fill the cathedral with Joker Gas and blow it up in order to to flood Gotham with it.
In Batman: Arkham Origins, a cathedral was used by Black Mask as a home to his drug operations after the Joker took over the Steel Mill. After he destroyed the various drug canisters that were spread across Gotham City, Batman defeated Black Mask's armed henchmen inside the church, and later on, captured Sionis when the latter confronted him at the church and left him for the GCPD.
A cathedral later reappeared in Batman: Arkham City. In it, a cathedral was one of the locations within Arkham City. It was converted into a medical center, which was also where the Joker's gang, led by Harley Quinn, kept medics as well as former members of the Arkham Asylum Security Force hostage. Joker also utilized one of his "mannequins" to man a sniper rifle in an attempt to assassinate Catwoman at the belltower. Batman freed the hostages and tracked down the Joker so that he could interrogate him about Protocol 10, as he was believed to be working with Professor Hugo Strange. However, Joker anticipated that possibility and rigged the top of the Cathedral to explode, and Batman just barely escaped. The Riddler later invaded the cathedral and kidnapped the medics and the former Arkham Asylum Security Force as part of his revenge plot to Batman for his earlier defeat in the Joker's takeover of Arkham Asylum. Eventually, Batman defeated the Riddler and the medical staff was safe inside the church. Vicki Vale later interviewed the incarcerated and demoted Mayor Quincy Sharp in regards to Arkham City.
See: Cathedral Square
A cathedral appeared in the massive multiplayer online game, DC Universe Online as a location in the Old Gotham District.