Image Credit: Albert L. Ortega/PR Photos; Landmark/PR Photos; DC ComicsInception director Christopher Nolan created a stir among movie fans today by announcing that Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy will play Bane in his final Batman movie with Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Rises, due in theaters in 2012. Kudos to Nolan for picking some quality talent — and for finally giving up some details about his top-secret threequel. Yet those long-awaited revelations have spawned even more mysteries, and three burning questions in particular.
1. Whither the Talia al Ghul rumor? The Hathaway/Kyle news come after months of reports that the Inception helmer was meeting with or testing practically every actress in Hollywood for as many two female roles in the movie. Most recently, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that Hathaway was one of six actresses (including Keira Knightley and Jessica Biel) in the running for the role of Talia, daughter of Batman adversary Ra’s al Ghul, played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins. (We explored all things Talia al Ghul in our last Batman 3 geek-out.) It remains to be seen whether or not The Dark Knight Rises will still include a “Talia,” or if the whole “Talia” thing was a bit of misinformation designed to disguise the truth. This happens all the time in Hollywood: casting calls will use dummy names in their postings, or script pages given to auditioning thesps will swap in fake character names for the real ones. As much as I liked the Talia idea, I did find it hard to believe that Team Batman would eschew an iconic property like Catwoman in favor of the more obscure Talia. That said…
2. Will Selina Kyle actually appear as Catwoman in the movie? Selina Kyle is Catwoman’s alter-ego. The press release issued by Nolan, however, did not mention the word “Catwoman” and did not say if Hathaway’s Kyle will be suiting up as the sexy feline-themed fiend in the film. Let’s note that in her first appearance in the Batman comics, Selina Kyle didn’t call herself Catwoman or even wear an outfit or mask. She was a beautiful, ingenious jewel thief/cat burglar who called herself “The Cat.” Wikipedia’s entry on Kyle includes a page from her comic book debut; check out Batman rubbing away her disguise and growling the kinky quip: “Quiet or papa spank!” (I want to hear Christian Bale give that line reading.) Other depictions of Catwoman in the comics have de-emphasized her overt Catwomanishness and her villainy. In recent years, she’s often been an ally to Batman, if a rather morally ambiguous one. My theory: I think Nolan intends to distinguish his “Catwoman” from the long, storied line of previous versions of the character — from Julie Newmar to Eartha Kitt to Michelle Pfeiffer to Halle Berry — by taking her back to the beginning and out of the “Catwoman” guise altogether.
3. Who the blazes is Bane? This is the question I’m getting the most today from more casual Batman fans. Previous unconfirmed rumors and reports had Hardy playing Hugo Strange in a story loosely based on the Batman tale Prey. As we explored last month, however, the forthcoming videogame Batman: Arkham City uses Strange as its villain and seems to borrow much from Prey; when that became clear, it suddenly became hard to believe Nolan would take the same approach. (See the awesome trailer for Batman: Arkham City here.) Here’s your Bane briefing, based on various character biographies on the Web (Caveat: My summary may be flawed. I’m not the world’s biggest Bane expert; explanation below): The character was introduced into the Batman comics in the early ’90s. He hailed from a fictitious, fascist Caribbean country and spent a childhood inside a barbaric prison, as he was forced to serve the sentence of his MIA rebel father. He developed his mind and his muscles to become the jail’s leading tough. Ultimately, he was coerced into becoming a test subject for a new drug, called Venom, which makes him herculoid strong. He eventually got it in his head to move to Gotham City to cause mayhem, seize control of its underworld, and destroy his obsession, Batman. In his most infamous moment, Bane battled Batman and broke the hero’s spine by literally breaking him across his knee like a piece of wood. Eventually, Bruce Wayne recovered (of course he did!) and brought Bane to justice after Bane had teamed up with — get this — Ra’s al Ghul to destroy Gotham City. Since Bane was created to be a dark twin to Batman, and given how Ra’s al Ghul and his criminal/terrorist organization “League of Shadows” aspired to destroy Gotham in Batman Begins, I wonder: Will Nolan bring his franchise full circle with a story that involves Bane, now the new head of the League of Shadows, trying to finish the job Ra’s started in the first film?
Of course, I could be wrong. I probably am. And again, if other comic book fans find my Bane recap somewhat flawed or lacking, please feel free to correct me in the message boards below. I’ve never been a big fan of the villain. The hulking brute bad guy archetype never captured my geek imagination. And his back-breaking stunt seemed just that — a stunt, one of those splashy but empty “Death of Superman”-like sales gimmicks. For me, Bane is the epitome of hollow comic book contrivance. But I trust Nolan, and I look forward to seeing his take on the character. [UPDATE AT 1:34 PST: Many readers are pointing out that Bane is more than just a super-strong brute — he’s a super-SMART super-strong brute. Point taken. That said, he looks boorishly brutish, and his boring, unappealing look was a big barrier of entry for me.]
Okay, enough of my theories — what about yours? Do these characters have you even more amped for the film, or do they give you cause for worry? Sound off below.