Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”. She will be starring alongside Christian Bale, who returns in the title role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Christopher Nolan stated, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story.”
In addition, Tom Hardy has been set to play Bane. Nolan said, “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”
I couldn’t be more delighted with this news, folks. Ever since Rachel Dawes met her fate in ”The Dark Knight”, I’ve been saying that Catwoman would be a necessity going into Nolan’s third and final ”Batman” film. For one thing, Rachel was the only female character in Nolan’s Batman universe – without her you’re missing not only a female lead, but a love interest.
Selina Kyle fulfills three roles as a female lead, a love interest and confidant, and an opposing force to Batman’s rule system. Catwoman’s own brand of vigilante justice often aligns with Bruce’s, while other times they collide head-on. It’s a very interesting dynamic, and I can’t wait to see it play out on screen.
There’s been some unfair comparison to Michelle Pfeiffer take on the character in Tim Burton’s ”Batman Returns”. While Pfeiffer was certainly entertaining as Selina Kyle, she really didn’t embody the character – rather she basically created her own.
Much like Caesar Romero’s take on the Joker in the ‘60s, audiences have come to identify with Pfeiffer’s Catwoman as the definitive version of the character, but that’s not really the case at all. Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was about as authentic as DeVito’s Penguin or Carrey’s Riddler – that is to say, not very authentic at all.
Hathaway is perfect for the role. I remember seeing her portrayed in Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb’s Catwoman: When In Rome and thinking how perfect should would be. Speaking of comics, as you know, Nolan and writer David S. Goyer pull from multiple sources when crafting their scripts – everyone knows about influences from ”Batman: Year One” or ”The Killing Joke” or ”The Long Halloween”, but this script presents yet more influences, namely ”Catwoman: When In Rome”, ”Batman: Dark Victory”, ”Hush” and ”Knightfall”.
Of course ”Dark Victory” and ”Hush” have influenced previous films, however, being as Catwoman plays a big part of those stories, one would believe her character will be shaped by these stories.
Knightfall begins with Bane freeing all of the maximum-security inmates of Arkham Asylum, a notorious psychiatric facility in Gotham City. Aware that he would lose in a direct assault against Batman, Bane’s plan consists of weakening Batman by forcing him to deal with the deadly villains simultaneously.
Among the freed inmates, there are numerous high-profile villains, such as the Joker and the Scarecrow, as well as many less known villains, such as Victor Zsasz – all three of which have been featured in Nolan’s films.
Batman is taken to his mental and physical limits: a dose of Scarecrow’s fear gas makes him relive the murder of Jason Todd, which he considers to be his greatest failure. I would imagine this could be refitted to make him relive the deaths of Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent, his greatest failure as of yet in Nolan’s films.
After this encounter, Bane makes his move and attacks Batman at Wayne Manor, as Bane had deduced the secret identity of Batman. This could be where the initial rumors of Hardy playing Hugo Strange came from, being as Bane is one of Batman’s villains who learn of his secret identity.
There is of course an epic battle between Bruce Wayne and Bane that ends with Wayne’s back being broken over Bane’s knee – “breaking” Batman and leaving Wayne a paraplegic.
Bane takes the grievously wounded Wayne (still costumed in the Batman outfit) down to Gotham Square and throws him from a rooftop to demonstrate his superiority to the populace. With Batman incapacitated, Bane assumes control of Gotham City’s underworld and takes over several illegal operations within it.
It should be noted that Catwoman is a part of the Knightfall storyline and is approached by Bane’s henchman to join their criminal organization, but she refuses, unwilling to be in league with the villain that broke Batman.
In “Batman: Dark Victory,” the sequel to the “Long Halloween” series that has influenced the film trilogy, Selina Kyle suspects she is the illegitimate daughter of Carmine Falcone, which could keep the story firmly planted in corrupt, mob-filled territory.
So, what does this mean for Nolan’s final Batman film? I think Bane will actually break Batman, or Bruce Wayne rather. Think back to this line of dialogue from ”Batman Begins”:
“People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne, as a man I’m flesh and blood I can be ignored I can be destroyed but as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.”
Batman will live on as a symbol, and this is the perfect end-point for Nolan’s trilogy. Warner Bros will obviously want to continue the series, and this way they can – by perhaps going down a road that involves Jean Paul Valley as Azrael or even a Batman Beyond scenario. In any case, Bruce Wayne will be unable to continue as Batman.
Catwoman will no doubt toe the line between Batman and Bane for most of the film until she ultimately sides with Bruce, after being broken – as she’ll feel partly responsible, I’m sure.
There’s one scene I would absolutely love to see: the Arkham Asylum break. Imagine a sequence similar to the end of ”Batman Begins”, where Batman meets Commissioner Gordon not far from Arkham Asylum, where the prison break just took place. They’re going through a list of inmates that have escaped.
It would be a great moment to even drop some obscure names from Batman’s rogues’ gallery: Mad Hatter (Jervis Tetch), Deadshot (Floyd Lawton), Oswald Cobblepot, Victor Zsasz. Batman would suddenly realize his worst fears have come to fruition:
Batman: “Scarecrow? Joker?”
Commissioner Gordon hangs his head and looks out at the Gotham City skyline – his eyes pointed in the direction of the Narrows.
Gordon: “They’re all gone.”
This would continue the wonderful legacy Heath Ledger created in ”The Dark Knight”, just knowing the Joker is out there – that’s a very unsettling thought – and further motivation for Batman to push himself to the limits, the themes of escalation carrying him to his fate – a broken, bloody mass of flesh and bone – lying in Gotham Square.