There’s no doubt about it: even in a year as jam-packed with highly-publicized titles as 2012, The Dark Knight Rises still stands out as THE major cinematic event of the year (and certainly our most anticipated).

Tickets for 70 mm IMAX midnight showings of Dark Knight Rises are now (or will be soon) available for purchase in certain locations, with big-city theaters having already sold out, more than six months in advance of the film’s actual release. It’s no wonder then that star Christian Bale admits he felt “immense pressure” while working on the film, as is revealed in a new EW article about Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie.

Bale, like everyone from his fellow cast members Anne Hathaway and Gary Oldman to composer Hans Zimmer and Chris Nolan himself, is quite enthusiastic about TDKR right now, as he assures EW that all that pressure actually helps, because it reminds him and the rest of the film’s production team that “you owe it to the films – and the people’s expectations – to make great work.”

Check out a new pic of Bale in his (new and improved?) armored Bat-suit, complete with the snazzy utility belt, in the latest Dark Knight Rises magazine cover – along with some additional pics of Bane (Tom Hardy), Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) and one of several bone-crunching showdowns between Bats and Bane – in our image gallery.

UPDATE: We’ve added two additional Dark Knight Rises images. One offers another look at Bale in his Bat-suit, at night, and the other (sort of) provides an early look at the Caped Crusader’s new base of operations.

You can see all of that in the gallery below:

Chris Nolan also spoke briefly with EW about certain aspects of TDKR, in terms of plot, themes, and even the controversy surrounding Bane’s speech in the movie. The filmmaker doesn’t touch on anything that hasn’t already been revealed (or all-but-officially confirmed) prior to now; all the same, those who wish to head into this flick with as little foreknowledge as possible, you should obviously stop reading now.

Spoilers Alert!

Still here? Here’s what Nolan revealed/had to say:

  • A renovated Batcave will definitely appear in The Dark Knight Rises, though its new features are being kept secret (for now).
  • Despite eight years having passed between the climax of The Dark Knight and the events of Dark Knight Rises, the “ramifications” of Batman and Gordon’s decision to cover-up Harvey Dent’s violent actions will be heavily explored in the new film – again, something that’s essentially been confirmed already.
  • On the topic of Bane’s muffled voice: “I think when people see the film, things will come into focus. Bane is very complex and very interesting and when people see the finished film people will be very entertained by him.”

For more from Nolan, including discussion of the political subtext hinted at in the official Dark Knight Rises trailer, you’ll have to pick up the latest edition of EW.

The Dark Knight Rises hits U.S. theaters on July 20th, 2012. Do you think it will live up to all the hype?

Source: Entertainment Weekly