While the Nolan Batman films have done many terrific things with the film franchise, one of the best things about the two films is how well the Nolans and David Goyer have been able to choose the correct supporting characters to inhibit their Batman Universe. Mainly the villains; each villain they have chosen has carried much more dramatic weight and meaning to the films. After Christopher Nolan's announcement that The Riddler will not be in the upcoming film, The Dark Knight Rises, many fans now are scratching their heads wonder who will be villain?
Well before I run down the possible villains, Let me first remind the fans who WILL NOT be in the film:
As mentioned before, Nolan has stated the Riddler will not be in the upcoming film. Many fans had expected the supposedly cast; Tom Hardy to play the character, but that is a no go. While Nolan's interpretation of Edward Nigma would have been interesting, especially with names like Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Michael Emerson, and Michael C. hall attached to the character in rumors. Nonetheless, I think it is a wise move by Nolan.
Nolan stated way back in March of this year that "It won't be Mr. Freeze". Unfortunately, as much as I loved Arnold's portrayal of the revenge-hungry doctor, I think it still leaves a bad taste in a lot of fan's mouths. Also, Freeze doesn't really fit into the kind of universe Nolan has created in the previous two films. Not to mention, how do you go from the Joker to Mr. Freeze? Answer: You don't.
I don't think I need to elaborate any further on why Nolan has no plans to bring back the Joker in the third film, and I strongly agree with that decision. While some may argue that no actor is "bigger" then the character they are portraying and I would argue that performances like Heath Ledger's in The Dark Knight don't come around very often. It's a wise choice to honor Ledger's legacy while Nolan continues to work within the franchise.
Now onto the Possible Candidates:
With the Riddler out of the picture, Selina Kyle has stepped in as the most obvious choice of the bunch. However, if Catwoman appears, another villain will have to join her because she alone, could not carry the weight of the third film. Catwoman works for several reasons, the first being that with Rachel Dawes now dead, and for anyone who thinks otherwise; don't get your hopes up, Batman will now need a new love interest. And as down-on-his-luck we expect Bruce to be in the next film, Selina's seductive temptations could lure Wayne into her trap. I think Nolan would have to somewhat "reinvent" the character's origin to separate her from the previous incarnations. Also Kyle has connections with Black Mask, and according to Jeph Loeb, she is the illegitimate daughter of Carmine Falcone, who was played by Tom Wilkinson in Batman Begins. If Nolan goes with a "Gang War" storyline, she could fit right in. The only problem I see with Catwoman is who do you cast? While there have been many speculations, it’s an extremely difficult decision, but that's for Nolan and Warner Bros. to figure out.
Dr. Hugo Strange
I must admit before diving into this possibility, that this frightens me a bit. Mostly because, I don't understand how people could expect Strange to carry a film as the main baddie, without a major surgical procedure done by Nolan. However, there has been a sudden surge on the internet for this character's appearance. How does he work? Well, Strange is an interesting villain in that he was able to learn the identity of Batman. I think with Strange's psychological elements and his jealous nature, he could make for an intriguing villain. With that being said, I don't think Strange will appear and that is mainly because other than his intellect, he poses no real threat towards Batman. As mentioned with Catwoman, in a "Gang War" storyline, he could be used as an asset for someone like Falcone or Black Mask, but otherwise, I don't understand why he would appear. Also, with the Scarecrow being prominent in the prior films, Strange is somewhat similar, and I would just rather see Cillian Murphy return to the Jonathan Crane role then see Strange step in for the first time.
Probably the most logical choice at this current point in time. Black Mask is somewhat the story of, what happens when someone like Bruce Wayne feels humiliated and always "second best" and cannot deal with it. Black Mask, originally named Roman Sionis, was born into wealth and knew Bruce as a kid, in fact, Bruce Wayne even bailed Sionis' company out of debt. However, Sionis felt angry and humiliated by the event and after creating a mask, he became Black Mask. Now, the only problem I see with adapting the Black Mask character is that Nolan would have to present the audience with some sort of origin most likely, which could take some time, but that isn't a major concern. The fact remains that Black Mask is an extremely flexible character that allows for other villains to play minor roles in the film due to their association with him, example: The Penguin (more on that later). As mentioned, he has a history with Catwoman that could make a great one-two punch for the upcoming film. Also, as I have mentioned this potential "Gang War" storyline, he would make a perfect fit. Also, with the Tom Hardy casting rumor, I could definitely see Hardy taking up the role of Black Mask, as well as others.
Now I bring him up because due to his presence in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I expect to see him in some capacity in The Dark Knight Rises. I think that the Scarecrow is one of the most underrated Batman villains and I think Nolan has used him in a very clever and resourceful way over the course of his tenure. As we saw in Batman Begins, if paired with the right villain, Crane can pose a real threat to Batman. Scarecrow is also probably the most compatible villain, meaning that he can be paired up with virtually any other character and it can work. The only problem here is that audiences have already seen the Scarecrow, and I think they are ready for something new and fresh. And I can understand that, but I hope for a small role or cameo by Cillian Murphy in the future film. But wouldn't it be great to see one villain appear in all three films? And who would have ever expected that to be the Scarecrow?
While I love good ole Danny Devito in Batman Returns, if Oswald Cobblepot were to appear in the next film, I would expect a different incarnation. Yes, the Penguin can be a tough sell to the general audience but I think the character would be best used in a smaller, supporting role. In the same way that Nolan used the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight. Now some of you may be reading and thinking, "Well jeeze Zach! You've got four villains appearing in Rises by this point." I address this here because I think the Penguin is a good example. Yes, if Burton or Schumaker were directing these films, four villains would be a recipe for disaster; three was for Joel (see Batman and Robin). But one of the things that Nolan and Company has done so well is pacing these films out perfectly. I cite The Dark Knight as a prime example, three villains appear in that film, along with the mob and does that film feel crowded with characters? Not at all. Because Cobblepot does not pose a physical threat to caped crusader, he can be used in a sort of "mobster" role that would not be the focal point of the film.
Now, I agree Hush could make for a terrific villain in the next Batman film. However, my main problem with the character could be a problem with an audience. For me, Tommy Elliot is somewhat similar to Black Mask; wealthy family, hated his parents, and is overshadowed by Bruce Wayne's public popularity. Now, Elliot uses that jealousy to unleash absolute chaos against Batman, and it can make for some very compelling storylines, usually penned by Paul Dini. The problem is that I think his origin would be have to be dramatically "tweaked" in order for it not to be so obvious to a modern audience that he is the bad guy. Then again, maybe you reveal his evil identity from the get-go and save yourself all the trouble. But the character has a strong fan-following, and I do think he has good potential. One thing that I think Nolan could really play with is the mystery aspect of Hush. While it is predictable to us comic readers, Nolan could use the mystery character as a way to tease the audience that Two-Face is still alive just donning a new outfit. It’s possible but I personally am not really that found of the idea. But I think Tom Hardy could play a very wonderful Tommy Elliot, so I would not be disappointed if Hush weasels his way into Rises.
Talia Al Ghul
Really, the only other villainess other then Catwoman that could appear in the film. Talia would make a strong choice. She has good character depth and would fit within Nolan's trilogy after the use of Ra's Al Ghul in the first film. She could play a seductive assassin, out for revenge on Batman after her father's death, which remains unknown if he really died or not. But I think she fits in well with the overall themes that have been present throughout the Nolan films. What is good? And what is evil? Talia isn't really either, but she can choose which side at any given time, that is what makes her such a compelling character for me. And like Catwoman, she would be more than just a new love interest; she could pose a challenge for Batman. And hey, maybe even Ra's could be reinvited to the party (Just wait).
Now I think Bane is a terrific character that has been extremely under used, in the comics. And what I mean is, even without the lackluster performance that was made in the unforgettable, 1997's Batman and Robin, I still think Bane is a poor choice as a main villain. While we all know Bane as being the man to, "Break the Bat", he still comes off as being more of a brute or enforcer. And I think if he played that role it would work, but he would have to be working for another villain, otherwise I don't see how it could work. But let's look at it from this perspective, if Nolan decides to include Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, things can only go uphill when comparing him to Joel Schumaker's Bane (I wish I could forget).
Ra's Al Ghul
Personally, I would love to see Ra's Al Ghul return with Liam Neeson reprising his role for the third film. However, I think it would work best if like he did with Scarecrow, a new villain is enlisted to carry out his agenda. Talia could also be brought into the mix via Ra's, and I think it would be fascinating to see Nolan take a stab at explaining the Lazarus Pit and so on in the next film. The major problem with Ra's returning is, he was in Batman Begins, so we have somewhat already watched that story in a sense. And this most likely being Nolan's final film, I think the majority of the fans, myself included, would like to see him tackle a new character for the final film. I think Ra's is the next best villain after the Joker on the totem pole, and we still haven't seen that ultimate Batman and Ra's Al Ghul showdown outside of the comics just yet (crossing fingers). Realistically, I only say there is a forty-percent chance that the old foe makes his return.
The "Falcone" & "Maroni" Families
I think it is safe to say that with the mob being a major element in the two previous films, that it will play a solid role in Rises. And I hope that we get to see the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Eric Roberts return to reprise their roles as Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni. However, Maroni's fate is unknown after The Dark Knight; one would assume that he is either badly injured or dead after the car crash. Either way, the Falcone family has ties with Catwoman that could create an interesting sub-plot. And if gangs become the story's focus, I think you can bet we will see these guys return. Unless, the likes of Black Mask and The Penguin have forced these "old timers" out of the picture.
Zsasz is one of the psychotic villains to come out of the Batman Universe in the last twenty years. And with his brief, but memorable appearance in Batman Begins, I think Nolan could decide to take this crazy serial killer and put him in the spotlight. However, Zsasz grabbing a hold of the torch could create two big problems. First off, in Batman Begins, he was used as a sort of Easter egg for the fans of the comic books, the general audience probably had no clue who Zsasz was, and probably didn't care and that was fine. If he were to take center stage, it could cause some confusion and disappointment from the general audience. Also Zsasz would have to be most likely re-cast. Nothing against Tim Booth, who played him in Batman Begins, but in order to make the character more intriguing to the audience, a well-known actor would have to step in, but Nolan did it with Rachel Dawes, Zsasz would be less noticeable. However, I do think he can be a "big-time" villain, I just don't see him being within the frames of the camera shooting The Dark Knight Rises.
Floyd Lawton is well known to the DC readership, and I think people became more aware of him through the 2008 animated feature, Batman: Gotham Knight. I think Deadshot would make a terrific supporting character. One that could be brought in as a hired gun by someone like Black Mask to "take out the Batman". Another plus to having him in the film is the character needs no origin. The audience takes one look at the guy and they know what kind of business he's in. The knock on Deadshot is that he really isn't strictly, a "Batman Villain", more of a "DC Universe Villain". But I personally don't think that it matters. I'm not suggesting that he play a major role in the story, just a small, supporting appearance that adds a little fun to the film.
I place Two-Face into the "Wild Card" category, because while he has been pronounced dead by both, Christopher Nolan, and Aaron Eckhart, who portrayed him in The Dark Knight, but there is still a lot of narrative to be told with the character. And yes, Christopher Nolan did say that "Harvey Dent" would not be returning in the film. Prepare yourselves for most likely an over-analysis, but while Nolan said Dent would not be returning, that doesn't rule out the possibility of Two-Face returning to the screen. The Dark Knight was the story of Harvey Dent; the third film could be the story of Two-Face, no? I feel that the Two-Face arc was built up so much, and there is so much characterization left to explore, that I think people should at least consider the possibility. Also, consider the fact that the Two-Face character has already had his origin explained; therefore the third film would not need to introduce the character to the audience, which could allow Nolan and company to focus more on the main storyline and Bruce Wayne's struggles. None the less, this most likely will not happen, considering that Aaron Eckhart has been insistent that he will not be asked back for the sequel, probably a smart move by Nolan.
Not familiar to the general audience, but Julian Day is an intriguing character nonetheless. Now, I am purely suggesting a small supporting role for our "dates and calendars" obsessed villain here. But Day has that eerie quality about, he kind of reminds you of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector in, Silence of the Lambs. And I think he could be used much like Lector was. Batman comes to Day for advice at some point in the film when Bruce admits that he doesn't know for sure himself. Also, after watching Bronson and seeing Hardy sit locked up in a cell for an extended period of time, I think he could really flourish in the role. However, due to Batman becoming Gotham’s #1 fugitive, Day's appearance goes from being "possible" to "improbable".
Now I must admit I am only including Dr. Quinzel to please all of the Paul Dini lovers that are reading this right now. As strong of a following the character has gathered over the last decade plus, I don't think Harley would "fit-in". One I wouldn't expect Nolan to go from refusing to recast the Joker, and instead, writing his female counterpart into the film. I think it would leave audiences unsatisfied because, really, you can't introduce Harley into the films without the Joker's involvement. If the Joker was to return, I would consider her to be more of a possibility because it would be easier to tell her origin, as well as, having Arkham Asylum play are larger role in the film, which many want. Unless Quentin Tarantino tells us what was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction, I consider her appearance to be highly unlikely.
The Mad Hatter
A very literary character, that I think, someday could make a very good transition to the world of live-action film. However, I think because the Mad Hatter is a homage to the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, general audience members would become confused. Maybe I am not giving the people the benefit of the doubt but I also think that Jervis Tetch might be a bit to "silly" to be a logical choice. While the mind-control aspects could cause for some interesting plot points, I think he starts to drift into that "Kind of like Scarecrow" category. And also, his origin is rather "weak" I must say, but that could be changed. For all you Johnny Depp fans who were now hoping for the Mad Hatter after the Riddler was canned, you better pray for the next few months, because I don't see it happening anytime soon.
Here's the catch with Clayface, he would have to not be Clayface. What I mean is simple, what is Clayface's claim to fame? He is a master of disguise that is allowed that talent by the fact that his body is essentially a mound of clay. In order to work within a Nolan film, I think they would have to exclude the "body of clay" bit. If you want to use Clayface, my suggestion is take one of the eight different iterations, examples being Basil Karlo, Matt Hagen, Preston Payne, Sondra Fuller, etc., and maintain that master of disguise element, but have them be some sort of snoop for another villain. It's a long shot and essentially the only attachment the character would have to Clayface would be their Christian name, but I think it could work.
While I expect this won't happen, I only bring it up because, as well all know, it has been suggested by many. Really? I believe that Killer Croc is only brought into the fold because of the "New Orleans" rumors that were littered across the internet. Truth be told, Waylon Jones does not have enough depth as a character, and he would require Nolan to do a lot of explaining during the course of the film. Nonetheless, is a possibility? Absolutely! Nolan has yet to rule him out, and I think there are ways to win Croc over with the fans, I just don't really know what they are. However, he really is just a brute with little depth; I don't expect to see him on screen in The Dark Knight Rises.
Well, with those rumors that the world could end in 2012, maybe Nolan decides to really "let it all hang out". As much love as I have for Pamela Isley, I think it is safe to say that it is quite "far-fetched" to expect her in the next film. Now, could the good doctor make an appearance? Why not? However, the problem that stems, no pun intended, from that is she is a botanist, which would mean that some sort of environmental threat would have to be a driving plot point. And I think Nolan a somewhat similar story with Ra's Al Ghul in, Batman Begins. And as great as Uma Thurman usually is, she didn't do Pammy any favors. Unfortunately, my advice, if there is a "Batman Villains Horse Race", she's not the favorite, she's probably not even expected to finish.
The Red Hood
Now, I am only suggesting this for the sake of argument. The problem with the Red Hood is that I think that the character would require a decent amount of set-up which would not fit into one film that is most likely Nolan's last, and a film that already has the, "Batman is being hunted", story thread attached to it. But the Red Hood doesn't necessarily have to be the Joker or Jason Todd. Nonetheless, there is hardly any stock in the character at all being that I think he would come off a bit ridiculous to modern audiences, and we already got a great animated film, no need to make an appearance in the live-action world just yet.
So there you have it. That is basically the way I could see things playing out, and there are a lot of different scenarios that could take place. And you can probably bet that nothing I just said will end up in the movie itself, but hey, it's always fun to speculate. Anyway, what do you guys think? Who do you think or hope appears in The Dark Knight Rises?
Posted by Zach