Forget all that talk about natural disasters and midterm elections, yesterday we finally got some really important news:
The Dark Knight Rises.
That's the title director Christopher Nolan is running with for his third go-round with the Batman franchise he successfully rebooted with 2005's Batman Begins and 2008's blockbuster sequel The Dark Knight.
But what about those neverending rumors that the Caped Crusader will duke it out with the Riddler? Well, the answer isn't much of an enigma anymore.
"It won't be the Riddler," the helmer tells Los Angeles Times, no doubt to the disappointment of fanboys dreaming Johnny Depp might get the call.
Yeah well, color me among those not disappointed by this turn of events. Not only is the Riddler really just the "Diet Joker," but it's highly unlikely whoever they'd get could compare favorably to Heath Ledger's performance in TDK. Especially with some of the names that were thrown around (Johnny Depp, David Tennant...Eddie Murphy).
So while I may agree the Riddler would definitely have been the wrong choice for Nolan's third film, that leaves us with the obvious question: who's ass is Batman going to kick in The Dark Knight Rises?
I'll tell you after the jump.
There are a few clues, of course:
"We'll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we'll be introducing some new ones," Nolan says.
That may include Tom Hardy, the hardscrabble hunk who played the forger on Leonardo DiCaprio's team of dream invaders in Nolan's Inception. Hardy has reportedly been tapped to play one of the leads opposite Christian Bale in the new Batman flick, which is shooting for release on July 20, 2012.
There's also word the helmer has been meeting with actresses in their 20s and 30s for another key part, though no word on which villain that may be (Catwoman perhaps?).
Assuming Nolan doesn't make the unwise decision of bringing a certain crazy clown back, he's already run through Ra's al Ghul, Scarecrow, the Joker and Two-Face. The Riddler is just the latest villain he's said he won't use, joining the Penguin and Mr. Freeze.
As far as notoriety goes, that's about it. Catwoman? Yeah, most people have heard of her, and I'd say she's the odds-on favorite, but given who Nolan has already gone through, we're forced to look at some characters that could charitably be called "obscure." Which one will be in The Dark Knight Rises? Let's take a look.
A bit player in Batman & Robin, the comic book version is actually a fairly well educated dude, albeit one transformed into a one man killing machine by the super-steroid "Venom." And judging by the picture, he also sported some sweet implants.
Hardy's pretty buff. He'd be a good fit, unless the IMDb is right and he's actually playing Det. Bullock. Then again, when has the IMDb ever been right about production rumors?
He's famous for breaking Batman's back in Batman #497, an act I would describe as a great set-up for a 4th Batman movie, except I can't imagine Nolan wants to go through the ordeal again.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 25-1
Imagine my disappointment when I discovered this wasn't a murderous pair of cheap footwear, but actually a half-man/half-reptile. Originally a big dude with scaly skin, recent incarnations have him as more crocodile than man.
Given that most of the new Batman villains have been psychological in nature, it seems a bit far-fetched that Nolan would go with something that would have to be rendered mostly in CGI as his ultimate villain.
There have been rumors, however, of location shoots in Louisiana, which would tie in with Croc's continuity. This one might not be as far fetched as it seems.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 30-1
Sorry, we liked our mind-controlling supervillain with a funny hat better when he was called "Scarecrow."
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 100-1
More like "Who-go Strange," am I right? Because, heh, nobody ever...heard of him...or something.
Strange reminds me more of a Bond villain than a proper Batman opponent: too mundane for comics, too cliche for Nolan.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 75-1
A fan favorite, also pretty much completely pointless as a villain without her boyfriend the Joker. I have a hard time seeing them trying to shoehorn her in as a past romantic interest for Heath Ledger's character, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to bring her in solo.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 50-1
Unless they partnered her with...
Quinn and Ivy are that rarest of supervillain pairings: genuine friends. Ivy makes more sense as a stand-alone villain, however. The militant eco-terrorist would be a timely antagonist (BP, global warming) fighting against the perceived environmental offenses of Wayne Enterprises.
Then again, they screwed her up so badly in Batman & Robin it's hard to believe Nolan hasn't silently put her on his no-fly list.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 60-1
He already made an appearance in Batman Begins, but as a henchman of Carmine Falcone.
And a serial killer, even one who carves a tally mark on his body top commemorate each kill, seems a bit...pedestrian.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: Trick question, as there are still (one would think) inmates of Arkham running around since the first movie. I'd say 25-1 that he shows up, but no chance he's the main villain.
I hate coming back to her, but it fits: Lucius tells Bruce in The Dark Knight that his armor will "protect him against cats." Rachel Dawes is dead, and there has yet to be a female superhero/supervillain in these films. Catwoman certainly has the richest Bat-history in that regard, and it might explain the casting meeting mentioned above (then again, they could just be looking for Vicki Vale).
And maybe it's just me, but I don't even acknowledge that Halle Berry movie. Call it denial, but it wasn't like it was sticking to the mythology anyway.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 3-2
Talia al Ghul
R'as had a daughter! And in the comics she bangs Batman and has his son! And there's no way they're going down this road over the course of a single movie.
Then again, TDK was, like, 9 hours long. Maybe this isn't as far-fetched as I want to believe.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 50-1
Oh, please. Can you say "Sandman 2?" Not happening.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 500-1
He's got some critical backing, but the big problem is his connection with Jason Todd -- the former Robin who inconveniently has yet to make an appearance in the Nolan-verse -- and his childhood friendship with Bruce Wayne, which hasn't been mentioned to this point.
There's also the whole "Lazarus pit" angle, but you really don't want me to go into that right now. Never mind that the whole technology is pretty out there, even for the hinky physics of the Batman movies.
His backstory is intriguing, but from what I remember, you'd need three more movies just to include all of it.
Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 75-1
Come on, you'd love this. Either the government sens the big blue schoolboy to Gotham to corral the Dark Knight, or they have one of those initial misunderstandings a la Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man. Batman's cunning and gadgetry vs. Superman's...superness...that's widescreen comics right there.
This works out to Warner Bros' benefit as well. Marvel is getting all its superhero ducks in a row with the upcoming Avengers related flicks. What better way to counter that than by putting your biggest characters together in the same movie? Add a cameo from Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern and you're on your way.
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Oh, who am I kidding? Odds Of Appearing in TDKR: 1000-1
Ultimately, all this speculation can probably be thrown out the window. Nolan had to retain exactly three elements of Batman mythology in his movies: Bruce Wayne's parents have to be murdered (prompting his vigilantism), Wayne has to be wealthy (to finance his nocturnal pursuits but also to provide his cover story), and he has to dress like a bat. Beyond that, it's nice that he's included familiar villains and rendered them more or less accurately, but he could have just as easily gone the Joel Schumacher route and cast Jim Carrey again after putting nipples on the Batsuit.
And hell, you could also make the argument that Schumacher was just being faithful to the spirit of the campy Adam West version, see how fun this is?
Bottom line: Catwoman's your villain. Secondary appearance by Bane, or...sigh...Killer Croc.