Gary Susman
February 12, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

Darkman, meet the Dark Knight. Liam Neeson is in final talks to join the cast of the forthcoming “Batman” movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Warner Bros. has declined to describe his role, but it’s likely that he’d play a villain opposite Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader in the relaunch of the franchise, which Christopher Nolan (”Memento”) will direct. Neeson would join a cast that includes Katie Holmes (as a probable love interest for Bale’s Bruce Wayne), Michael Caine (as butler Alfred), and Cillian Murphy (”28 Days Later”). According to the Internet rumor mill, Neeson’s role would be Batman’s immortal enemy Ra’s al-Ghul, while Murphy’s is Bat-foe Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. the Scarecrow.

The 51-year-old Neeson, most recently seen in ”Love Actually,” will next appear on screen playing the title role in ”Kinsey,” the biopic about the pioneering sex researcher. He’s currently shooting Ridley Scott’s Crusades epic ”Kingdom of Heaven,” in which he plays star Orlando Bloom’s father. Shooting on the ”Batman” project begins in London later this month.

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