How 'The Dark Knight' Helped 'Wolfpack' Brothers Survive Years Locked Inside a Manhattan Apartment

The documentary hit from Sundance reveals that movies can be much more than just entertainment.
Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

For the Angulo brothers, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy was much more than a way to kill a few hours; it was an important look into the outside world.

The six brothers, and their one sister, spent most of their lives inside their Manhattan apartment, only permitted to leave a few times a year. As is revealed in the stirring documentary Wolfpack, their father was distrustful of the outside world and kept his family under lock and key.

Most of their contact with the outside world came from films — which they hungrily digested and reinterpreted — acting out entire movies, complete with homemade costumes. Among their favorites was The Dark Knight, with the brothers spending years creating costumes from the entire trilogy.

"The first one, from Batman Begins took me more than two years to make," Mukunda Angulo tells The Hollywood Reporter.

The brothers would go on to recreate Christian Bale's costume from The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, using household goods.

"Cereal boxes, cardboard boxes. Papers. Yoga mats. Sharpies. Black spray-paint," says Mukunda. "Sew it all together and see if we can make this world for ourselves. We put in every detail and it turned out fantastic for us."

A key moment in Wolfpack comes when Mukunda talks about the responsibility of wearing the suit as he looks out the window of the world he was rarely able to visit.

"It always felt really emotional, just to see how they built these worlds," says director Crystal Moselle of capturing moment. "I knew that was their escape. And how serious they were about it. It meant a lot to them. It wasn't just like kids playing with toys. It's their expression. It was a very important part of the story that I felt we had to bring forward."

The creativity was hardly from confined to Batman. The brothers also created mashups which pitted characters from different films into the same universe. Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger might end up in Boogie Nights, for example. They created costume after costume for years.

"They showed me their costume closet, maybe eight months into the filming process. We started going through their masks," says Moselle  It was intense. It represented a lot."

The brothers are out of the apartment and in the spotlight thanks to Wolfpack, which won U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The film is now in limited release, and the brothers are planning on starting their own production company, Wolfpack Pictures to continue their dream of working in the film industry.

Check out the trailer for Wolfpack: