BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT Holy must-see summer blockbuster Batman! Christopher Nolan’s final installment in his Batman trilogy is just a few weeks away. In typical Nolan fashion, very little about The Dark Knight Rises has been revealed or for that matter confirmed. The film takes place eight years after The Dark Knight and Batman is still being hunted by Gotham Police for the death of Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) will square off against Catwoman/Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and Bane (Tom Hardy). The movie also features the return of Ra’s al Gul (Liam Neeson) and the League of Shadows from Batman Begins. The lack of official information combined with the Internet’s feverish curiosity, rich fantasy life and surplus of free time has birthed numerous speculative theories about what Nolan’s psychotic but brilliant mind has come up with this time. The rumors range from what can be called safe assumptions to the most insane yet still entirely possible theories.
The most feasible speculation involve Catwoman. The primay theory about Selina Kyle is that she will begin the movie as a villain working with Bane to take out Batman but by the end of the movie will become an ally (and lover) of Bruce Wayne. Throughout Batman’s 60 years of comics, movies, cartoons and other adaptions, Catwoman has always been portrayed as an ambiguous figure, neither a clearly-defined villain or hero. While she is a thief, she is a thief similar to Robin Hood, maybe just a bit closer to the wrong side of the law than the famous archer. Her alter-ego, Selina Kyle, is Bruce Wayne’s greatest temptation, a woman on the other side of the law to whom the Batman is irresistibly attracted to. The timing of Catwoman’s introduction into the series also seems purrfect (sorry) if she is in fact Bruce’s new lover. The job is open, given that Bruce Wayne’s last love interest was killed off in The Dark Knight.
Bane is the other major villain in The Dark Knight Rises. Casual Batman fans who have only watched the movies will remember Bane as the brutal steroidal freak in 1997’s Batman & Robin. Thankfully, trailers suggest that Nolan is being truer to the comics than that film by making Bane the biggest threat Batman has ever met both on a physical and psychological level. He comes to Gotham city to break the Bat. His first order of business breaking out all the lunatics Batman has fought over the years from Arkham Asylum For The Criminally Insane in the middle of the day (intentionally not doing it at night, which is Batman’s element). This sets up a showdown between Batman and all the classic villains: The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Killer Croc (a humanoid crocodile). This leaves Batman so exhausted that he loses his slugfest with Bane who literally breaks his back.
Nolan’s storyline appears to follow certain elements from the Knightfall comic book series. One trailer shows Bane talking to Ra’s Al Gul in the hospital, suggesting a tie between Bane and the League of Shadows. For those who did not watch Batman Begins, Ra’s Al Gul is a leader of a secret society (aka The League of Shadows in the movies, League of Assassins in the comics) that tries to control the world. There are two major rumors about Bane: The first is that Bane will merely injure Batman; the second is that instead of just breaking the Bat, Bane kills him (or at least Bruce Wayne, more on that later). The prevailing online opinion is that the death of Bruce Wayne fits better in Nolan’s darker, more naturalistic universe.
The most ridiculous rumors focus on the character portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Before his role was mentioned, fanboys speculated online that he will play Dick Grayson, the original Robin despite both Nolan and Bale saying they will never include Robin in the series. Bale has even said he would quit if they decide to bring in the Boy Wonder. The Robin speculation stems from some Easter eggs in one of the trailers that features the The Boy Wonder’s logo, a stylized R. However, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing John Blake. Who? Don’t fear casual fans. John Blake is a Gotham police officer, with no connection to the comic book story lines, created just for the movie. Still rumors persist that John Blake will be in costume at some point in the movie. One rumor has it that John Blake will become Nightwing — the superhero Robin grows up to be in the comic book version — and help Batman fight crime. Nightwing is to Robin what a butterfly is to a caterpillar. There is also a related rumor that John Blake will replace Bruce Wayne as the Batman.
In Knightfall, Bruce Wayne passes the mantle of Batman to a heretofore minor character after being put out of commission by Bane. Fanboys who believe that Bruce will die believes that Blake will become the new Batman, while fans who think Bruce Wayne merely gets broken believes that he will return as Batman by the end. At first, I was not so sure. I thought John Blake will be a minor character shown maybe once or twice. Once again, the trailers are making me second guess myself. John Blake is in the trailers much more than I would have expected. Still, instead of donning tights he could simply be Batman’s new ally in the police department. As you can see, there is plenty of rumors about the movie and there will surely be more as the release date approaches. But all this fevered speculation becomes moot on July 20th when the legend ends.