Warner Bros. has announced that Anne Hathaway has been cast for the role of Selina Kyle, while Tom Hardy's role was revealed to be the Batman villain, Bane. And while we expect to see Hathaway zipping up in the leather suite, it is interesting to note that in the Warner Bros. press release, the characters' alter ego, "Catwoman" is never mentioned.
So Hathaway joins a list of many memorable actresses to play Catwoman, one that includes Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Halle Berry (let's just forget about this one though, ok.). And Tom Hardy joins a very, very short list of actors to portray Bane, like a list of two. The wrestler and stunt man, Jeep Swenson portrayed Bane in Schumacher's legendary, "Batman and Robin" in 1997 (how can we forget). So really for me, this is the first portrayal that will add any substance to the character, and I think Tom Hardy is a fine choice for Bane.
However, this news has me a bit… divided in some ways. First, there is a part of me that knows these characters will work. Why? To me, the thing that has made Christopher Nolan such a perfect fit in the Batman film franchise is that the characters he adds to the narrative are there only if they have something to contribute to the film's overall arc. Meaning, Nolan doesn't just throw characters into his films, just for the sake of doing it. And I know some are probably thinking, "What about Mr. Zsasz!", and my answer to that is Zsasz was an Easter egg for the comic readers, and it never was a distraction. Also, Nolan has done a nice job of "tweaking" the past villains so that they fit into his vision, and these are two villains that may need a bit of "tweaking". So in that respect, I have complete faith in these characters working within The Dark Knight Rises.
On the other hand, Bane? Really? Now, I don't expect to see that horrendous interpretation of Bane that we saw in 1997, but I am concerned about how much of a role he will be given. In the comics, Bane has a terrific back story and is much more then the brute that we first think of, but there is a reason why Bane hasn't been used in such a long time, and it isn't just Joel Schumacher. Yes, Schumacher did turn off a lot of fans to the idea of using Bane in a film, but really, Schumacher just turned us all off to the idea of Batman films. How much time is Nolan going to spend on developing the character's arc in the film? And there is my problem, unless the character is completely flushed out over the course of the film, he isn't going to come off as smart, resourceful, and strong like he is in the comics. What made the Joker great in The Dark Knight, is that Nolan didn't need a back story or give the audience an explanation for his actions, he was, and is simply insane and unpredictable. This allowed Nolan to focus more so on Harvey Dent and the evolution, or deevolution of his character. Similar case in Batman Begins, we know Ra's Al Ghul's motivations, and the Scarecrow is made pretty easy to understand over the course of the film. Bane is different, unless they scrap the costume, which I'm sure will be altered, he may still be a bit silly, and there is my concern.
Anne Hathaway portraying Selina Kyle/Catwoman is an interesting choice. My concern with Hathaway in this particular role has always been that I question her ability to pull off all the characteristics that Catwoman has. It's very hard to be smart while being physical while being sexy while being a villain. Meaning, all of those things have to be conveyed at once and in balance. One characteristic cannot over power the performance, or it can come off as Hathaway "hamming" it up on screen. Now, having said that, I don't have a better casting suggestion. Hathaway is the best she's ever been right now, and she's still quite young. I also expect the character to be well written by the Nolans and therefore, she will have excellent material to work from. I think it will also be important to view her portrayal completely on its own. Meaning, there is going to be a lot of Anne Hathaway to Michelle Pfeiffer comparisons being written before and after the film, but I won't be one writing one. Tim Burton's world was very different in comparison to Christopher Nolan's world, and that means different kinds of performances. And while I love Michelle Pfeiffer's portrayal of Catwoman in Batman Returns, I expect something much different from Anne Hathaway, but just as enjoyable.
Just in writing this article, I have become a little more accepting of the choices then I was when the news first hit. I still have my concerns, and while I really would have liked to see Black Mask in The Dark Knight Rises, I have complete faith in Christopher Nolan and his team, and there recent casting decisions. 2012 is going to be quite the year.
Posted by Zach