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I trust that what you've read so far has been informative. The following section should go a long way toward clearing up any uncertainty that may remain.
Crazy rumors about the cast for "The Dark Knight Rises," the third of director Christopher Nolan's Batman films, have been going on for so long that Vulture's Lane Brown gleefully made fun of the phenomenon seven months ago. At that point, the following human beings had been connected to the sequel: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Johnny Depp, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Cher, Eddie Murphy, Rachel Weisz, Miley Cyrus, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. This is a natural by-product of the Internet and of the massive success of "The Dark Knight," which Nolan turned into one of the biggest hits of all time, in some effect, through the casting of the late Heath Ledger as The Joker. This is the most prestigous, profitable franchise in Hollywood, and everyone wants a part.
And today, for the first time, after all the rumors have dissipated, we know who the villains in "The Dark Knight Rises" will be. Warner Bros just announced that Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle, and that Tom Hardy, of Nolan's "Inception," will play Bane. Christian Bale will be back as Batman, and Nolan has said this will be his final Batman film.
Hathaway was one of the many actresses rumored to be auditioning for the film last week (a group that reportedly included Jessica Biel and Keira Knightley), and apparently she won over Nolan. (That she's at the apex of her career, with her Oscar co-hosting duties next month, doesn't hurt either.) This is the first time we've learned that Selina Kyle -- who is more commonly known as "Catwoman" -- will be a part of the film. It is definitely worth noting that the Warner Bros. release never says the word "Catwoman." That could mean that Hathaway will be playing Kyle before she turns into Catwoman, or that they're trying to establish some distance from Halle Berry's widely panned performance in her "Catwoman" spinoff in 2004, or that the studio is trying to play a little coy with the announcement of an iconic Batman love-interest-cum-villain.
Of course, Berry's not even the most famous movie Catwoman: That would be Michelle Pfeiffer, who was the highlight of the underrated "Batman Returns, Tim Burton's last film in the franchise, back in 1992. In that version, Kyle, a sheepish secretary, becomes Catwoman by being brought back to life -- after being murdered by Christopher Walken -- by an alley-full of stray cats. But in the comics, she's a street criminal with a tragic past similar to Batman's, a Robin Hood sort who steals from the city's wealthy and gives it to the destitute. That seems a more likely direction for Nolan's morally ambiguous Batman universe. And, obviously, the notion of Anne Hathaway in a Catwoman suit is not necessarily a negative one either.
This isn't the first time Hardy's Bane has been in a Batman film, though his appearance was far less memorable. In 1997's much-mocked "Batman & Robin," Bane was played by the late wrestler Jeep Swenson. In that film, he was Poison Ivy's bodyguard, but did little more than grunt and flex. The DC Comics version of Bane is far more layered. There, Bane is another Batman character who was doomed from birth. He was born and raised in a South American prison -- the law there required his father's life sentence for murder to be served by his son, which hardly seems fair -- he becomes a body-building strongman, along with a superior intelligence wrought in the prison library, simply to survive behind bars. He ended up running the prison's inmates, which led the threatened warden to force him to become a test subject on an experiment with a substance called "Venom." The venom makes him supernaturally strong, but he's required to take it every 12 hours, or he'll die. Eventually he escapes prison and wreaks doomed havoc on the streets of Gotham. In a way, this character is not all that different from the character Hardy played in "Bronson," Nicolas Winding Refn's 2008 film about England's most notorious prison inmate. This is certainly what Nolan had in mind by casting him.
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