So, if you listen to the g33kWatch podcast you know that we frequently discuss the status of comic book films. Our major obsessions seem to be the upcoming Superman reboot headed up by Zach Snyder and of course Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman project, The Dark Knight Rises. We along with the rest of the comic book/film nerds of the world have pontificated over ideas of what villains will appear and who will portray them. Hollywood was buzzing with rumors of women like Naomi Watts, Eva Green, Rachel Weisz, and Anne Hathaway meeting with Nolan to get one or two major roles as possible villains or a new love interests for Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Last week Warner Brothers finally announced their intentions in a major press release. They confirmed that The Dark Knight Rises will feature Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy in the role of Bane. Comic book fans know these two characters very well, and while mainstream fans are familiar with Selina Kyle’s alter ego the half-hero/half-villain Catwoman … Tom Hardy’s Bane’s only major film appearance was in the incredibly abysmal Batman and Robin. For anyone who needs a little history on these characters, what should be known about them is that Catwoman is one of a few true love interests for Batman. She began as a classic cat burglar, turned into one of Batman’s rogue’s gallery and then over time due mainly to her feelings for Batman is now one of Gotham City’s nighttime crime fighters. Bane on the other hand is not only a monstrous mountain of steroid fueled muscle. He is largely considered the super-villain with the best plan and result for actually trying to take out Batman. The impetus for the classic 90’s story arc Knightfall which saw every super-villain in Arkham released on the same night causing Batman to scour the city for weeks rounding up teams of his worst enemies. When finally Batman had basically been worn down past the point of any mortal man Bane in a sneak attack succeeds in breaking Batman’s spine. Since his meteoric rise he has fallen down the ladder of Batman’s list of enemies but he will always be remembered as the one that “Almost Got ‘Em”.
In Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe though these two will definitely require some “tweaking”. For example in Batman Begins the ‘Big Bad’ was Ra’s Al Ghul, duplicitous leader of The League of Shadows and bent on bringing pure justice to corrupt Gotham City. In Begins Ra’s hides his identity behind figurehead leaders while acting as the League’s main lieutenant. Thus allowing him to live on even after his “death”. This portrayal remains grounded in the original roots of the character but definitely differs from the near immortal eco-terrorist who desires to remove the greatest threat to ecological balance, humanity. Ra’s doesn’t wish for the total destruction of mankind and therefore wishes to take the best example of humanity he can find, The Batman and make him his heir. These themes still carry through his film incarnation but obviously he’s been filtered through the same lens of ‘reality’ that the rest of the series has.
My view is that Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy are incredible actors who are exactly the type of performer that Chris Nolan loves to work with. They are those actors that will win an Academy Award someday, they are capable of bringing depth to even the thinnest of material and they are very respected by the hard to please g33k community. Anne Hathaway is a classic triple threat performer who has an incredibly dry sense of humor and a classic Hollywood sex appeal. My thinking is that if we are going to see her as Catwoman (The press release only mentions Kyle but c’mon there’s no way she’s not putting on the catsuit.) she will be the more modern mostly heroic incarnation of the last few years. I doubt she will be the films ‘Big Bad’ and she will likely feature the most accurate and therefore best portrayal of Selina Kyle on film.
As for Tom Hardy as Bane, there will have to be major adjustments for this character. Bane’s most famous plot necessitates the presence of a large number of Batman’s main villains. Bane is a tactical genius in the comics he knows attacking Batman on fair ground will lead to a defeat. He only does so after Bruce has put away his entire Rogue’s Gallery, is totally exhausted and completely alone. The other aspect that must be dealt with is his monstrous size and the source of his muscles, the super steroid Venom. Venom itself is an unbelievably fantastical drug. Lex Luthor famously created a kryptonite hybrid version of the drug to face off against Superman, and in the video game Arkham Asylum the steroid was used as part of the Joker’s experiments to create his army of Titans. Its main application is that it can turn even the scrawniest of men into walking juggernauts but over the years the drug has been paired with other items to make it a more dangerous weapon. This obviously will not fit within Nolan’s Dark Knight universe. So the question remains what will Nolan be able to do to fit this character into the universe he’s created for us over two incredible films?
Now comes the portion of this article where I toss out the facts and wax philosophic regarding what might have been and yet still may be. If I have any issues regarding Anne Hathaway was Selina Kyle its with the choice of including Selina Kyle in this film. I had always hoped that the rumors of Eva Green being cast in the role of Talia al Ghul would be proven true. Talia Al Ghul, another major love interest for Bruce Wayne bears his son in the comic series, Damien Wayne the current Robin. She is a formidable warrior in her own right and general of the League of Shadows she is also a shrewd business woman who once ran LexCorp for Luthor while he was President of the United States. Creating a professional rival, love interest and super villain related to the series’ original villain is a wonderful way to bring the story full circle. I’m sure for Nolan that idea has not been lost and perhaps there is still more casting news to come. I hope that this will still come true.
Tom Hardy as Bane is a real shocker as most rumors had him pegged as Batman obsessed Professor Hugo Strange. Strange is a psychological genius and one of the few people to ever purely deduce Batman’s alter ego as Bruce Wayne. His obsession is to get Batman to admit his identity and has gone so far as to brainwash policemen, create monster men and even pose as a psychiatrist for Bruce Wayne at Wayne Enterprises to drug him. Hugo Strange would have been a choice that more easily fit into the world that Nolan has created but once again perhaps this was deemed too obvious a choice. It definitely would have been a stretch for Tom Hardy as Strange is a man in his 50s.
So now we wait for costume pics, plot leaks and cast interviews. At this point Nolan has earned over 1 billion dollars of capitol to spend with the movie going public. Selecting quality actors, using practical special effects instead of digital, and filming the entire flick in IMAX while forgoing 3D are all decisions that I wholeheartedly agree with. What do you guys think of the casting news?
– Mr. Khon