Lately there’s been quite a lot of information flying around the internet about The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan’s third (and seemingly final) Batman movie. Very little news has actually been officially confirmed as of yet, but rumors of all sorts have been making the rounds, so of them stranger than others. Being a huge fan of the Nolan Batman movies (and Nolan movies in general, for that matter), I took it upon myself to do a little research on the film and see what I could find. Anyway, my goal here is to attempt to sort through as much information as I can, hopefully separating fact from rumor as I go (which is easier said than done, I might add).

For starters let’s go over the returning cast members. Christian Bale will reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman – no surprises there. Also returning will be Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox), and Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon). As far as I’m concerned that’s excellent news, seeing as those roles were all perfectly cast in the first place. And besides that, it would really awkward of one of them did something mind-blowingly stupid like dropping out at the last minute to be in an extremely shitty (and much less successful) movie with Queen Latifah, only to be replaced by the far superior Maggie Gyllenhaal. A purely hypothetical situation, of course. Obviously no one could actually be that stupid, right? As of yet there hasn’t been any news on whether Cillian Murphy will get another cameo as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow like he did in The Dark Knight, but I’m certainly rooting for it. And not just because of his hotness. I think the addition of a Scarecrow cameo would really add depth to the…um… I’m not fooling anyone, am I?

Clockwise, starting at top left: Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, and Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow. Mmm…Cillian Murphy…

Anyway, on to the characters that won’t be returning for this one. Heath Ledger is obviously out, and with him goes the Joker, which is exactly how it should be. It would be a ridiculous insult to his memory to simply recast the Joker, and besides that I seriously doubt that there’s anyone out there who could even come close to matching his performance. It goes without saying that the always-excellent Maggie Gyllenhaal won’t be able to return due to Rachel Dawes’ death, and Nolan has confirmed that Harvey Dent/Two-Face is indeed dead, so no more Aaron Eckhart either, though he said he would be willing to return.

Next stop – new characters and cast members! This part is pretty tricky though, as it combines casting rumors with confirmed roles, so try to bear with me.

First up we have Tom Hardy as Bane. For those of you who haven’t seen the horrendous 1997 Batman and Robin – which is actually kind of worth watching, if only to witness the so-awful-they’re-hysterical puns and batsuit nipples for yourself – or don’t read comics, Bane is essentially a huge freakin’ juggernaut dude. During a stint in prison in Santa Prisca (don’t worry, it’s a made up country, you’re not stupid for not knowing about it), he was experimented on with a drug called “Venom”, which gave him superhuman strength. In the comic book story arc “Knightfall”, he promptly uses his new strength to break Batman’s back (because that’s just how he rolls), earning the nickname “the man who broke the Bat” in the process. Something tells me that probably won’t happen in the movie.

Tom Hardy at the Inception premiere and Bane as seen in DC Comics. As you can imagine, it was absolutely awful having to sift through page after page of pictures of the not-at-all-attractive Tom Hardy to find just the right one for this post, but somehow I managed.

Next there’s Anne Hathaway, who will be playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Most people are pretty familiar with Catwoman already, but for those of you who are complete losers, she’s a cat burglar. Get it? Catwoman is a cat burglar? And she wears a catsuit? I see what they did there… Does she have a catty personality? And get into catfights? Sorry. I'll stop now. In the past, Catwoman’s relationship with Batman has differed from comic to comic. Sometimes she’s just one of his mildly villainous foes; other times she’s lover. Hell, sometimes she’s both. Batman is lacking a love interest now that Rachel Dawes is dead, so it’s definitely a possibility that Miss Kyle will fill that role. As far as Anne Hathaway’s casting goes, I’m pretty excited about it. I know a lot of people aren’t fans, but in my opinion she’s a very talented actress, and I can’t wait to see what she brings to the role. One thing is for sure, though: whether you think she’s right for the role or not, she definitely can’t do more damage to Catwoman’s reputation than Halle Berry did in Catwoman.

Anne Hathaway in a photo shoot for Vogue and Catwoman as seen in DC Comics.

While I’m on the topic of Catwoman, I think I should address Juno Temple, who has been cast as a “street-smart Gotham girl.” Most people are assuming this means she’ll be playing Holly Robinson, a lesbian teenage hooker and friend of Catwoman’s (because Catwoman loves lesbian teenage hookers, apparently), which seems fitting, considering Catwoman’s role in the film. I must admit, my knowledge of Temple and her achievements is sparse, so I’m really not sure how I feel about her joining the cast. Hopefully she’ll do at least a decent job with whatever role she’s been given.
Juno Temple in an InStyle photo shoot and Holly Robinson as seen in DC Comics. I see the resemblance...
French actress Marion Cotillard (who played Mol in Inception, if you don’t recognize the name) is currently in talks for a mystery role. IMBD still lists her as “rumored”, but the French magazine Le Parisien said it was confirmed, as did French newspaper Le Figaro. So… yeah. There at least seems to be a fair shot that she’ll be in it. Assuming she is, one possibility is that she’ll be playing Talia al Ghul, who is rumored to be featured in the film. Talia al Ghul is the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, leader of the League of Shadows, who was played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins. Like Catwoman, she’s kind of an anti-heroine and has been both Batman’s adversary and his love interest in the past, meaning she too could fill either role in the film. However, Badass Digest has recently put out some very interesting information in regards to Talia al Ghul. According to their unnamed source, Talia al Ghul is to be Bane’s love interest, not Batman’s. All in all, it’s pretty up in the air, and that’s if Talia al Ghul will even be featured at all. Like I said, it’s just a rumor.

Marion Cotillard in an HK photo shoot and Talia al Ghul as seen in DC Comics.

Then there’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rumors about his inclusion in the movie have been floating around for quite some time, and now that he’s finally a confirmed cast member there’s much speculation as to who he will be playing. For a while the idea was that he would be playing the Riddler, but Nolan shot that one down, saying the villain “won’t be the Riddler” in an interview with Hero Complex. As interesting of a character as the Riddler is, I’m actually really relieved that he won’t be in the movie. He’s just so similar to the Joker that it would seem pretty strange to feature him in the movie immediately after The Dark Knight. That, combined with the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt bears a striking resemblance to Heath Ledger, would just make the whole thing very awkward, as if Nolan was trying to make up for the loss of Ledger or something. But now that the Riddler is definitely out, it’s unclear what role JGL will have. Some of the more popular rumors include Black Mask, Alberto Falcone, and Nightwing, and there’s also the possibility that he’ll take on the role of an entirely new character. Recently, a supposed inside source told Variety that JGL would, in fact, be playing Falcone (a serial murderer dubbed the “Holiday Killer”), but Entertainment Weekly is claiming that an inside source told them that JGL wouldn’t be playing Falcone. Confused yet?

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in an Esquire photo shoot and Alberto Falcone as seen in DC Comics. I love having an excuse to post this JGL pic...

I know it’s been said before, but at this point I’d like to add that The Dark Knight Rises is starting to look and awful lot like Inception in terms of casting choices. Thus far, we’ve got Michael Caine and Tom Hardy confirmed, Marion Cotillard and JGL in talks, and the possibility of a Cillian Murphy cameo. Hell, why doesn’t Nolan just throw in Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page while he’s at it? All jokes aside, I actually don’t really care if he casts the movies similarly. After all, if Nolan had a good experience with them while working on Inception, why not work with them again?

And now it’s time for miscellaneous cast members, because I’m too lazy to give everyone their own paragraph. Josh Pence will be playing a younger version Ra’s al Ghul, so I guess we can expect some flashbacks. He does kind of look like a young Liam Neeson, so I guess I understand why he was cast. According to a tweet from Variety's Jeff Sneider, "supporting roles" are also being filled by Daniel Sunjata, Diego Klattenhoff, and Burn Gorman (from Torchwood, yay!). Apparently you must have a silly name to be part of The Dark Knight Rises’ supporting cast.

Josh Pence and Liam Neeson. There's a pretty strong resemblance, actually.

Okay done with casting, now for the other odds and ends. Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard will be doing the music again, which I’m very excited about. Their scores for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were both fantastic, and Zimmer recently collaborated with Nolan for the incredible (and tragically Oscar-snubbed) Inception score, so they’re bound to continue their tradition of awesome with the Dark Knight Rises. Zimmer recently described the score as being “extraordinarily epic” and “iconic” in an interview with MTV News, so I don’t think we have much to worry about there. On another note, Nolan has stated that the film will not be shot 3D; it will instead be shot for the most part in IMAX format. This, in my opinion, is absolutely fantastic news. Too many directors have been jumping on the 3D bandwagon lately, and I’m glad to see that Nolan isn’t one of them. 3D does have a place in film, but in most movies it detracts more than it adds, not to mention the fact that it needlessly jacks up the already-ridiculous ticket prices. The film’s screenplay was written by Nolan, along with his brother, Jonathan, and filming itself is set to begin this May, and will wrap up in November. Currently, the release date is set at July 20, 2012, which seems painfully far away at the moment. I may have to tide myself over with repeated viewings of the first two movies.

Oh, and before I go, one last thing I want to add: Christopher Nolan tends to mess with people when it comes to news about his films, and has been known to purposely spread false rumors through other people. Generally, the only person you can trust for info on a Nolan project is Nolan himself, who seems to shy away from outright lying. On the other hand, he’s generally pretty vague, and, being the sly bastard that he is, he also can be very tricky with how he words things. Apparently, he enjoys fucking with people’s minds in real life just as much as he does in movies. Go figure.

Fan-made poster by El Gato

Fan-made poster by Ryan Luck
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