The Dark Knight Rises: some rabid speculation

Possible villains and themes of Christopher Nolan’s third Bat-picture.

My afternoon was stopped in its tracks when news broke that Christopher Nolan’s third Batman movie would be named The Dark Knight Rises, and that the long-rumoured villain of the piece, The Riddler, wouldn’t be part of the story.

I wasn’t mad, of course. Just surprised. That’s what happens when rumours spiral out of control for months, without official comment – I think everyone had just assumed Joseph Gordon-Levitt would play The Riddler and that would be that.

So, possible villains of this final part of Nolan’s trilogy? Well, a colleague of mine suggested that Nolan doesn’t seem to think in terms of villains, more themes, suggesting that fear was the theme of Batman Begins while corruption was the clear centrepiece of its follow-up. What does The Dark Knight Rises tell us as a title? It implies victory, something a long time coming for this iteration of Batman, who lost pretty much every battle in TDK until he went all Patriot Act and finally managed to catch the Joker. So if Batman is on the up in Gotham City, who’ll be there to meet the challenge?

Nolan has a knack of taking the Dark Knight’s Rogues Gallery and managing to make them work on film – very few of the hero’s villains would translate directly to the director’s grounded style of storytelling. Let’s bear in mind, also, that Nolan doesn’t necessarily go for the popular choice, using Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins, for example; he seems to choose characters that are compatible with the story he’s trying to tell.

Personally, I think Clayface’s identity switching ability could work well in a Nolan movie. In last year’s Batman: Arkham Asylum game, a great Easter Egg saw the villain appear in a prison cell, before switching between the faces of multiple people, including Jim Gordon, in the name of manipulation. Clayface doesn’t have to turn into a giant monster – and, since the Clayface pseudonym has been adopted multiple times by different characters over the years, Nolan could construct his antagonist from scratch.

Aside from that, though…I’m actually completely stumped, unless we count Catwoman as a villain or we consider the idea that one of the past movie’s villains will return (there’s a lot of Lazarus Pits in the DC Universe, after all).

Anyway, here’s the fun part – who do you want to see in The Dark Knight Rises? How do you want the story to end? Cat Deeley as Catwoman? Sound off, and so on.