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Possible Villains for The Dark Knight Rises

News and rumors about Christopher Nolan’s next Batman movie have been coming fast and furious lately. First, Nolan confirmed that the title will be The Dark Knight Rises, an indication that the story will either pick up right after the events of the previous film or delve into Batman’s brief stint as a drive-time radio D.J. Either way, it won’t be in 3-D. Thankfully, Warner Brothers agreed to Nolan’s vision of shooting with Imax cameras to retain Gotham’s gritty look. Finally — and most importantly to fans — the Riddler and Mr. Freeze are out as possible villains.

Word is that Tom Hardy, who played Eames in Nolan’s Inception, has been cast in an as-yet-to-be-named role. If he isn’t the Riddler, whom could he be playing? Who within the rogues’ gallery will once again put Gotham’s commuters in jeopardy? (After what Ra’s al Ghul and the Joker did to the trains and ferries, walking is about the only safe option.) Let’s take a look at which Batman villains might, ahem, rise to the occasion.

Will Charlize Theron be slinking into a skintight catsuit? Not so fast, fanboys: turns out the actress is in talks to play Sarah Essen, a character who has an affair with Commissioner Gordon in Frank Miller’s classic story “Batman: Year One.” If true, this would put the kibosh on the many absurd Catwoman rumors floating around. (Remember when Cher was reportedly up for the role?) Maybe skipping Catwoman is for the best. A cat burglar who literally dresses up as a cat would be far too silly after Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Arguably the most popular Batman villain of the past decade, Thomas Elliot is a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who grew up to be his nemesis. The Hush story line finds Elliot, as his alter ego, roping everyone in Batman’s life into a deadly web of revenge. Also in Hush’s favor is his decidedly unflashy costume: he’s just a bandaged dude in a trench coat — so he would keep The Dark Knight Rises from heading into campy Joel Schumacher territory.
vera-125.jpgTalia al Ghul
Of all the women who’ve toyed with Batman’s heart, Talia, the daughter of Batman Begins baddie Ra’s al Ghul, makes the most sense for the three-quel. Story-wise, she could take over the League of Shadows while also seeking revenge for her father’s death. Talia, like Ra’s, walks the line between good and evil, a trait that ties
her into the theme of Nolan’s trilogy. While reports say that Vera
Farmiga could play Julie Madison, Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend from way back, isn’t it time to make room for a female character who isn’t just another love interest?

One popular rumor has Tom Hardy playing Bane, the juiced-up brawler who
broke Batman’s back during the nineties. Seeing how Bane was reduced to being Poison Ivy’s dim-witted lackey in Batman & Robin, anything Nolan and company did with him would be an improvement. On the other hand, Bane is extremely dated, with a “pro wrestler meets the gimp from Pulp Fiction” look
that would immediately get him whacked in Nolan’s Gotham. If toned
down, he could work as a deadly enforcer for our next villain.

Yes, he took a tumble off a building. But Batman villains have survived far
worse fates and lived to menace again. Nolan hinted that Gotham’s white knight could return when he told the Los Angeles Times that The Dark Knight Rises
will feature many characters we’ve seen before, while also introducing
a few new ones. Going with a title that nods to the previous
installment also suggests that we haven’t seen the last of Dent. (Including Harvey would also satisfy critics who feel his story arc was rushed in The Dark Knight‘s finale.)

zsasz-125.jpgVictor Zsasz
the Scarecrow, serial killer Victor Zsasz has already turned up in Nolan’s
Batman films, albeit briefly. (He goes after Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins.)
Played by Tim Booth, Zsasz is still alive and running around Gotham, making him eligible for a
return. But if Zsasz does pop up again, expect the part to be recast, à la Maggie Gyllenhaal taking over for Katie Holmes. Um, Booth does look an awful lot like Jackie Earle

murphy-batman-125.jpgThe Scarecrow
If there’s one thing you can count on in the current franchise (besides Christian Bale’s hoarse Batman croak), it’s a Scarecrow appearance. Along with Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy has become something of a repertory player in Nolan’s films. While we have a ways to go before DC starts connecting their movies as seamlessly as Marvel, it’s nice to at least see some familiar faces pop up around Gotham. The chances are good that we’ll see Jonathan Crane again, even if it’s just for another cameo.

harley-125.jpgHarley Quinn
There are few Batman characters more beloved than
psychologist turned Joker sidekick Harley Quinn. (The number of Harleys parading around Comic-Con probably exceeds the number of Jokers at this point.) Given that the Joker is (presumably) locked up in Arkham, it’s not inconceivable that Harley could be worked into the third movie. On
the other hand, the loss of Heath Ledger is still pretty fresh, making it unlikely that Nolan will go back to the Joker even for a Harley cameo.

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