But now, as the film's release draws nearer (f***in' finally!), I thought I'd take a look back at those rumors I particularly recall hearing about over the past couple of years. I'll start with the unlikeliest and make my way to those possible spoilerrific ones!
JOHNNY DEPP IS THE RIDDLER?!
PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN IS THE PENGUIN?
I gotta say I loved the thought of Hoffman playing that role. If one man could portray a Penguin to rival Danny DeVito's genius take on the character then he would have been the man to do it. A great character actor, Hoffman would have made a kickass Penguin. Again though, having The Penguin in Nolan's universe might have been a bit out-there. Which isn't to say it couldn't have worked, don't get me wrong, but after two movies of having villains looking like normal (if messed-up) dudes, a penguin guy might have seemed a tad grotesque. This was a super-early rumor and proved to be completely unfounded, even Philip Seymour Hoffman himself was like "wtf?". Would have loved to see the guy's take on The Penguin, one of my favourite Bat-villains, but for now looks like Batman Returns will have to remain my Penguin bible.
ROBIN WILLIAMS IS HUGO STRANGE?
Poor Robin Williams, the guy always comes this close to playing a Batman villain but it never materialises. Him playing The Riddler in Batman Forever would have no doubt been a mistake but Hugo Strange I could see him pull that off brilliantly. After all, he's played creepy dudes before in One Hour Photo and Christopher Nolan's own Insomnia and he was great in both. The character would have fit in well into Nolan's Bat-universe also, so that was definitely a more plausible casting rumour than the previous two and I was actually looking forward to that one proving to be true. Again, though, it wasn't meant to be and we'll have to wait a long while before we see Mr Strange in a live-action Batman flick. As for Robin Williams, I'm thinking Warner Bros. didn't care much for Patch Adams either so it doesn't look like he'll be a Bat villain anytime soon. Oh well...
THE RIDDLER WILL APPEAR?
Whether Christopher Nolan put a character in The Dark Knight called Mr Reece ("mysteries"? "Mr E. Nygma"?) because he wanted to get the guy to play The Riddler in the sequel but then changed his mind or because he simply wanted to mess with us, who knows? I had hopes for ages that Nolan and co. were being super evasive about The Dark Knight Rises because that was all part of The Riddler's persona and the character would be revealed to us in the cinema itself rather than before. All these rumors, all these questions... But now I frankly don't believe that Warner Bros. would have been up for promoting a film without even mentioning its main villain. I mean, you've got Bane and Catwoman already, do we really need more villainy? This isn't Spider-Man 3, you know. Batman's gonna have to deal with some big, burly dude busting his teeth in, is he really gonna care about some guy in green asking him stupid questions? I don't think so. Mr Reece's true self, it seems, will forever remain... an enigma.
THE JOKER WILL RETURN?
No he won't. But hey, there were always going to be rumours about that one. The late Heath Ledger making such a big impact as the character in The Dark Knight that one at least expected a cameo appearance in Rises one way or another. After all, how would they ever look over a character who freaked out Gotham City for so long? Well, when it was announced that the new film would take place 8 years after the events of the last movie and Nolan confirmed the villain wouldn't appear we started finally facing facts and giving up on that whole "Joker returns" idea. Before that, though, the rumors were plentiful: some thinking the character would be recast entirely, some thinking that unseen footage from The Dark Knight would be used for a cameo appearance, some even going as far as to claim that The Joker would be CGI'd into the film. As we all know, Christopher Nolan hasn't been one for over-using CGI in stupid ways so a computer generated Heath Ledger was hardly gonna happen now was it? As much as I liked Ledger's take on the character, I'm glad he won't appear in Rises. Better to keep the actor's iconic role intact and not get too desperate to revive a character, if you guys saw Tron Legacy's CGI Jeff Bridges, you know why some things are better left alone.
TWO-FACE WILL RETURN?
Even after Aaron Eckhart himself said quite clearly that the character was well and truly dead, that didn't stop people from doubting the man. Then, when the question about whether he was involved in the new film at all was brought up he either avoided it or gave an evasive answer. Yes he said that Harvey Dent was well and truly dead... but what about Two-Face? The two-faced one being my personal favourite Bat-villain, I was totally up for more of the character but I'm thinking Eckhart didn't say anything because Harvey Dent will be an important character in The Dark Knight Rises in that the guy represents Gotham's hope for justice and if Commissioner Gordon and Batman have managed to keep the Two-Face secret buried for 8 years then it'll be up to Bane to screw that up royally. Not sure what Two-Face would be doing in this upcoming film to be honest... Don't think the character being there in person would be useful to this new story, maybe having Harvey Dent there in spirit will be enough. There's also talk of Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow making an appearance but seeing as he was disposed off like so much leftovers in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I find that unlikely.
THE LAZARUS PIT?
Yeah, you know that green lava-style goop Ra's Al Ghul gets his immortality from? Well, this picture above, along with the confirmation that Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul will indeed appear in the new film, pretty much confirmed that the villain was well and truly alive and well, bathing happily in that shit. For me, it just looked like they were green-screening a giant hole in the ground which might turn out to be a villain's secret lair or just a cave of some sort. I don't see how the Lazarus Pit would make sense in that story. Think about it, the whole point of Begins was that Ra's Al Ghul was "immortal" not through magic or anything like that but through ninja-like anonymity, by having a bunch of dudes walking around with funny Ghul-beards. The idea being that a man can die and disappear but a symbol can live forever as a legend. Having the pit would undermine all that I think so I really don't believe they'll go for that but that said... it's a pretty big hole, you know?
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT IS... EVERYBODY?
Ever since Christopher Nolan cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as "John Blake", a New York beat cop, every conceivable rumor regarding the character's "true" identity was brought up. Originally, it was believed the actor would be playing Alberto Falcone, a villain who would make sense in that Nolanian universe. But then he was announced to be playing a new character called John Blake and the Falcone thing was cast aside for more and more rumors. The Riddler was brought up, something which I just don't think would make sense at all, but then Robin/Nightwing were mentioned and it looks like still today, 10 days from the film's actual release, a lot of people still believe that'll happen. Yes Nolan said there would be no Robin in the new film, but if Bruce Wayne was to pass the torch (a symbol lives forever, remember?), he'd choose a young guy, a young guy with a good heart and a fighting spirit. A cop didn't sound too implausible. Truthfully, if John Blake turns out to take on the cape and cowl, it's unlikely he'll don a new persona like Robin or Nightwing. He would just be... tiny Batman. We'll just have to wait and see. My money's on John Blake being John Blake.
MARION COTILLARD AS... EVERYBODY?
Poor old Marion Cotillard, she too has been the subject of many rumors. The wildest of which was that her Miranda Tate character would in fact be Poison Ivy. This is all because her character was described as "ecologically minded". But Poison Ivy would make as much sense in that movie as having Johnny Depp's Riddler pop up about halfway through. Then it was believed that she would in fact be playing the "real" Catwoman. Like how Ra's Al Ghul has people pretending to be him to keep his symbol alive, so would Catwoman. But the trailers kinda screwed up that theory seeing as Anne Hathaway is lookin' like the real deal to be sure. Having her be just a cover for another character at this point would be insane. BUT then the name Talia Al Ghul was brought up and that started making sense. I mean, you've got Ra's Al Ghul involved, a lil' actress playing a young Talia Al Ghul in the film (see IMDb), pictures of Cotillard on set wearing some weird robe, someone would need to betray The Bat at some point... Seems like a no-brainer really. I think that having Miranda Tate be Talia Al Ghul would work rather well, it's still very plausible. Besides, you can't have two red herrings in one movie! John Blake AND Miranda Tate two unknown new characters? Hm. I don't buy it.
BATMAN RETIRES OR DIES?
It looks like something like that will happen. After all, in the trailers Bane leaves Bruce Wayne in a pretty sorry state. Either that or that fall at the end of The Dark Knight was nastier than we thought. The tagline "The Legend Ends" also seems to suggest that the legend of Batman will end but a new one might surface. Many believe that Bruce Wayne will simply pass the torch or train another to take his place, others believe he will simply die at the hands of Bane or Ra's Al Ghul and a successor will avenge him somehow or at least work to keep The Bat alive. Frankly, I would hate to see Bruce Wayne's Batman die because then if there is ever to be another Batman film we'll have to sit through YET ANOTHER origins story. I mean, there's always the Lazarus Pit, if THAT theory has any merit, so maybe... magic yoghurt might help the caped crusader? I don't know. Passing the torch might make more sense. We'll find out very soon anyway so there's not much point in debating this one further, I like not knowing how the film will end, personally.
In the meantime, nothing's stopping me from starting a new rumor:
Rutger Hauer's character in Batman Begins is in fact Black Mask?
He's not but feel free to spread that one. It's on the house ;)