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Gotham comes to Glasgow

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Batgirl marks the third time Glasgow has been used as a stand-in for the notorious Gotham City in DC’s comic book films.

Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman utilised the city for second unit filming and this was followed up on by The Flash, which filmed a chase scene in George Square. But now Batgirl has utilized the city to its full potential, using it as the prime location for its shoot.

The city is a great match for Gotham, due to its distinctly gothic architecture and dull weather which is a perfect match for Bat Vigilantes to loom around. Not to mention its high crime rates.

I’ve been lucky enough to watch all three films being shot in the city. In February 2020 before the pandemic hit I stood in the freezing cold by a graveyard as Robert Pattinson’s stunt double whizzed past on his Bat Bike in full Batman attire.

Even though the weather was bad, the atmosphere was still full of excitement -as fans of all ages theorized and waited for a glimpse of the caped crusader (even if it was just his stunt double.) 

Robert Pattinson’s stunt double in Glasgow. Image credit: Nathan McQuaid

A year later in July 2021 I once again watched as Ben Affleck’s stunt double drove past on his Batcycle – wearing his different Batsuit. At least the weather was better that time around. 

For the Flash they had transformed George square into Gotham, with yellow taxis and food stands all around. It was a much different experience as anyone walking past was able to notice the Gotham set dressing and so there was a lot of excitement even from people that weren’t fans.

And so following the pattern, Batgirl -which stars Leslie Grace in the titular role- has come to Glasgow to do the bulk of its filming. 

So far I’ve seen it filming twice, neither of which involved a Bat Bike. The first time I waited with fans and paparazzi as the cast and crew filmed inside a restaurant, occasionally coming back outside to enter make-up tents. 

This was the closest I’ve got to actually seeing the lead cast and crew. I managed to see one of the directors, Bilall Fallah who was waiting outside presumably for the set to get ready. I also saw the lead actor Leslie Grace as she entered and exited the set wearing a huge black coat and hood to hide the new Batgirl suit.

This was a great experience, even though I didn’t see anything mind-blowing it was still interesting to watch a relatively unknown cast and crew as they made a film as big as Batgirl

Last week I was also able to watch as the crew transformed Glasgow into Gotham at Christmas. It was fascinating to see how much work goes into set decorating, seeing small details like authentic Gotham car registrations on every vehicle really shows how much detail goes into these films. 

Gotham at Christmas. Image credit: Nathan McQuaid

All three of these films shot in Glasgow have brought an air of excitement to the city, but with Batgirl it feels a lot bigger. They’ve been filming for weeks now and will continue shooting for a while yet, so there are plenty of chances to get a glimpse of the blockbuster filmmaking going on.

Watching any film being shot is always exciting but seeing something as big as The Batman or Batgirl being made in Glasgow really brings the Hollywood industry down to Earth for me and makes it feel a lot more achievable.  And as a fan – no matter how many times I see the word Gotham written on windows, newspaper stands or yellow taxis it still feels unreal and exciting.

If you ever get the opportunity to watch a film shoot you definitely should. Even if you don’t see any big-name actors or mind-blowing set pieces you might still see something interesting or worthwhile.

Feature Image Credit: IGN

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