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Renowned Stuntman Nicholas Daines Reveals the Training He Used to Get Ready for ‘The Batman’

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Stuntman Nicholas Daines has been involved in the movie business for over twenty years, so he’s used to being punched, kicked and thrown from great heights. Over the course of his career, he’s worked on everything from Mission Impossible to Indiana Jones and with everyone from Hardy to Craig to Cruise (who, he says, is “almost like a bona fide stunt performer in his own right”). Working on a Batman movie though, that’s special. “It’s on the stuntman’s bucket list,” he says.

Last year, he fulfilled that ambition when he was hired to work on The Batman. Playing a masked goon, Daines got up close and personal with the movie’s star Robert Pattinson, as well as the men who doubled him, and admits it was a thrill to be on the Caped Crusader’s hit list. “When he runs at you, takes you out and you’re flying through the air. It’s like, wow,” he says.

Before he stepped foot in Gotham City, which was actually “a dark and dingy studio” with “a heavy, sinister presence”, Daines had to get ready for the part. Speaking to Men’s Health, he explains what he did and why he believes the outcome, from his perspective, is something pretty special.

“From a stunt perspective,” says Daines, “there’s one particular sequence that’s at height and in the darkness. It’s a very cool and ambitious stunt sequence, which when you see it, it’s great, it’s just nonstop. It’s one thing after another, and it will be an iconic Batman stunt-filled movie.”

The Prep

Having trained in gymnastics from an early age, Daines got involved in stunt work after witnessing a stuntman in action while working as an extra on British cop drama, The Bill. “I saw this guy being hit by a car,” he says. “He wasn’t really being hit he just had to sort of jump back onto it as it reversed, and I looked at that and I was like, well, I can do that and with a double twist.”

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Two decades later and now at 50 years old, Daines is still training gymnastics and has used his flexibility and mobility to carve out a career as a specialist high-wire and at-height stuntman. That’s what he was brought onto The Batman for: to fight the Dark Knight above the streets of Gotham. But to be successful in Daines’ branch of stunt work you have to train in specific disciplines.

“One of the scenes,” says Daines, “is at height within a huge building, so we’re working on beams and rafters and it’s very industrial. There’s lots of jeopardy and you’re aware of just how high you are and you’re doing stunts that are very precarious. Get one small move wrong and you would plummet. That’s why you’ve got to be specialized in wire work.”

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Fighting is a stuntman’s bread and butter, so Daines does a lot of gym work to make himself strong, but, he says, the key to doing what he does is having spatial awareness. When you’re falling from the sky, you’re seldom doing it alone, so you need to know where you are in relation to everyone around you. A background in gymnastics certainly helps with that, but in preparation for the at-height work on The Batman he was doing lots of high diving too.

“High diving is fantastic for the spatial awareness and being at heights,” says Daines.

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“But you’ve got to work towards it. Spatial awareness is something that you develop, but you have to maintain it,” he adds, “so doing things like diving and gymnastics for me [really helps]. You know that the fight scenes are going to be very acrobatic as well. You know you’re going to be pushed off things, roll off things and things are going to collapse. So you really have to make sure that all that is tuned in.”

The Workout

Alongside Daines high diving and gymnastics work, he also put in work at the gym, using mobility and strength circuits to build a body that’s strong, agile and could believably belong to one of the Riddler’s henchmen.

“Preparation was a lot of mobility drills,” says Daines. “Lots of core strength and body strength, so lifting myself up and circuits. I do a lot of circuits if I’m going to do a movie because you want everything worked out and in tip-top condition. I do a lot of reps, but not necessarily to exhaustion, just 30 seconds to a minute on each one, a number of times a week.”

Before jumping into the following workout, try warming up with some light cardio and stretching. Also, remember we’re not looking to go to failure here; we’re using compound exercises to work as many muscles as possible in as short a time period as possible.

Repeat the following circuit three times. Take a one-minute rest between rounds.

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