"The Dark Knight Rises" is finally rising -- the sequel has started principal photography.

Production of the Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures film -- the final chapter of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy -- is a global affair. The locations span three continents and include Pittsburgh, New York and Los Angeles, as well as sites in India, England and Scotland.

The previous film was primarily filmed on location in Chicago, while the first film, "Batman Begins," was mostly lensed in London, with some additional Chi-Town footage. Switching it up helps ensure that the fictional Gotham City will never simply look identical to one real-life city.

Christian Bale, hot off his Oscar-winning turn in "The Fighter" is reprising his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Newcomers to the series include Anne Hathaway (as Selina Kyle/Catwoman), and a trio of alumni from Nolan's "Inception:" Tom Hardy (Bane) , Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake). It was also recently reported that Josh Pence is also joining the film...as a young Ra's al Ghul.

Among the returning cast members are Michael Caine as Bruce's trusted butler Alfred, Gary Oldman as newly-promoted Commissioner Gordon and Morgan Freeman as Wayne Enterprises exec Lucius Fox.

Like "The Dark Knight," Nolan is using IMAX cameras to shoot several key scenes, but promises to be using them more extensively this time around.

Nolan co-wrote the film with his brother Jonathan Nolan. It's being produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, and exec produced by Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull. 

"The Dark Knight Rises" opens nationwide on July 20, 2012