The Dark Knight Rises – Speculations on the Cast, the Story and the Film

With the announcements of Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman, Tom Hardy playing Bane, and the casting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film, the story has been a subject of much discussion. With no official synopsis released by Nolan or Warner Bros., many wonder what kind of narrative Nolan will pull out to top the epic scale of The Dark Knight. The multi-billion dollar franchise will come to an end in 2012, while many other superhero franchises will be spawned later in 2011 and in 2012, and people are wondering: how will Nolan give us a conclusion befitting of the story he’s established in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight?

Bane is definitely a natural choice for the concluding chapter of this trilogy, as he represents a threat to Batman in a way that past villains have not. Ignoring everything introduced in the skull-fuck known as Batman and Robin, Bane is actually a very intelligent man. In the comics he does not have a very well known history, but there were alot of references and reveals by the man himself about his past. Cast away in a Pena Dura prison located in the mythical island of Santa Prisca, where Bane lived to pay for the sins of his father, he grew up hating “the system.” He wanted to be free, intelligent, and all-powerful. He built himself to be a military man, strategist and philosopher, reading works of many notable leaders and thinkers all over the world. As far as physicality is concerned, he worked out like hell, and signed up for the lab experiment that featured a strength enhancing drug known as “Venom”. That power gave Bane his chance to get the hell out of Dodge, and he became a freelance assassin. Then he saw Gotham City as an opportunity. He saw a city so corrupt and so overrun by crime that he just could not resist spinning his, no pun intended, venomous web around it. Many people know that Gotham City was filled with chaos because of Bane when he made his appearence there. When he arrived in Gotham, he and his soldiers spied on the Batman, whom Bane admires in a way, studying his moves and the city’s infrastructure. Then he struck the Achilles heel and staged a breakout in Arkham Asylum, releasing almost every inmate in there, including the Joker, Scarecrow, Two-Face and Killer Croc. With many sleepless nights and continuing battles with the murderers of Gotham, Batman grew tired and weaker. Bane managed to deduce that Bruce Wayne was the Bat, which led to a confrontation at Wayne Manor where Bane beat Batman and broke his back. This concluded the first act (out of three) of the “Knightfall” comic saga. Now that was an epic story. I have a feeling Nolan will come up with something along those lines but reformat and modify it to go along with his universe. I also think that Nolan will rework Banes’s origin story, which I believe will be ambiguous like the Joker’s.

IGN has previously reported what they think will transpire in The Dark Knight Rises, with Catwoman playing the part of a Gotham vigilante, cleaning up all the crap the Joker left behind in the wake of Batman’s disappearance. It seems plausible enough, but I’ll only believe it when Nolan confirms it. One interesting thing that IGN mentioned is the possibility of Bane being recruited by the police to find the Batman, which would probably set him on the path to darkness. If Bane’s storyline involves him being used as a test subject for the United States government to wipe out the Batman, I say bring it on! I am very interested in seeing how Bane actually appears on screen, size wise. I mean this is Nolan, not Burton; you can’t expect some random height increase in the middle of the film…or can you? The interesting things to consider are how the rumoured roles of Talia Al-Ghul and Dr. Hugo Strange would play in the film assuming they are both in it. My opinion on Talia Al-Ghul is that she would bring in her army from the League of Shadows to Gotham to finish what her dad started, and Bane would be her general; her very own Dark Knight. What I think will happen will be a mix of the themes and ideas explored in the first two films of the soon-to-be trilogy, which included fear and chaos, with a few other components added in: heroism, justice and all that kind of stuff. Still, the themes mean so much with Nolan’s films, as he is a man of literature, he would know how to substantiate these ideas. As far as the idea of spreading chaos is concerned, this could be a tricky feat to pull off. I mean, Arkham did have its own breakout in Batman Begins so it might be superfluous to go down that route again. Plus, with the Joker supposedly locked up in Arkham Asylum, and with him not returning for the film for obvious reasons, a breakout like that c0uld not be possible without raising so many questions.

Maybe The Dark Knight Rises will just be a full-on war in Gotham. Hell, I could easily see this f those post apocalyptic films or something, I mean who really knows, even with IGN’s synopsis. Interestingly, Joseph Gordon Levitt has been reportedly cast in the film in an unknown role, and many tabloids (keyword) have been reporting that Robin Williams may be cast as Dr Hugo Strange. But I have to ask: are we sure they’re not thinking of the upcoming Batman video game? I mean, sure, Batman: Arkham City would be a great marketing tool to get more people are interested in Batman, since it’s being released almost 10 months before Nolan’s film will be released, but do you really think Hugo Strange will be in both mediums? Its possible, I suppose. He definitely has a potential substantial role in the story, but how would that come about? Is he going to be Wayne’s doctor? I don’t see him being an Arkham player just yet, since the Scarecrow already covered that angle in the first film. We’ll see. However, the JGL casting is interesting. Would he be a cop? A criminal? An anarchist (perhaps the comic book character Anarky)? Some people are speculating that Gordon-Levitt might be playing the Joker in a small cameo, which would be interesting, but I have my doubts that it will happen. Speaking of Scarecrow, I wonder if he will be in the last hurrah that is The Dark Knight Rises. He could be connected to the Talia Al-Ghul character (just because of the connection with Ras Al-Ghul in the first film), which might be a fun little twist.

Regarding Anne Hathaway, I think she genuinely is a good actress, but I don’t see her in the Catwoman role. I’m sure Nolan might have the right vision and idea for her. I just hope it does not turn into a cheesy cardboard performance, as many actresses tend to with the role (I’m sorry, I liked Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance, but it was soooo over the top). Her character is an interesting choice for this particular franchise, and the vigilante angle seems cool as it does in the comic book, but unless Nolan gives her more ambiguity and Hathaway takes things seriously, then I won’t be totally sold on the idea. I am sure Tom Hardy will be great, though, and if anyone has not seen Bronson, please check it out, as it really showcases his talent as an actor.

Now finally, the single most important question: what happens to the Batman? As he takes the fall for Harvey Dent’s murders, the police are on a manhunt for him. Will the U.S. government actually get involved? Will they commission Bane to fight fire with fire? I also wonder if Batman will meet his end. I know the title says he rises, but that could be temporary. I mean he could rise, and then just fall for good. I’m just spitballing here, but it is possible, since this is Nolan’s universe. Maybe the Dark Knight will become Gotham’s savior and a martyr for Gotham’s crimes. As cliche as that sounds, it’s a timeless idea.

A word to Christian Bale, though: CHANGE YOUR FUCKING GODAWFUL ABOMINATION OF A BATMAN VOICE. Or I promise you, Kevin Conroy (the real Batman) will come and dub all your lines come the film’s test screening. I was fine with the voice in Batman Begins because he still seemed like a character struggling with identity, but what he did in the second film was borderline idiotic. It was just odd when the Joker sounded more intelligent and sophisticated than Batman. I hope that Bale, Nolan and the post-production crew rectify that problem.

By now, I definitely trust Christopher Nolan. I liked every single one of his films (surprisingly, Memento is my least favourite, if my, hehe, memory serves me) and I am damn sure The Dark Knight Rises will not be a cop out or some cheap finish to the franchise. Nolan has far too much dignity for that. I imagine that the film will be about war, as it fittingly ties in with all the issues that the world has experienced in the last decade. Not even a physical war between countries, but a war of intellects branching from religion to politics to business and to philosophy. Everyone has their own ideals and morals, and I think, like the first two Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises will explore these themes. Bane definitely encompasses aspects of war and identity, and will be a worthy opponent for Batman’s final fight (in this franchise). I hope the film is as well written as its predecessors and does not become too convoluted to follow, too crowded, or too over the top. There is so much opportunity here for entertainment for both the eyes and the mind, and I’m sure Nolan will deliver on that front. Stay tuned for more updates on The Dark Knight Rises as we get closer to its release date!

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