The Dark Knight Rises: how will Bane and Catwoman fit in?
Anne Hathaway is Selina Kyle. Tom Hardy is Bane. So what is Christopher Nolan up to? And can he make Bane work? Our The Dark Knight Rises thoughts lie within...
Speculation over who the next set of Bat-villains would be has been going on since the moment everyone stepped out of the cinemas following The Dark Knight and asked themselves, "Wow, how are they going to follow up Heath Ledger's Joker?" Yesterday, we got our answer: with Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and Bane (Tom Hardy).
With the possibilities for Batman villains so wide and varied, it's perhaps understandable that the announcement didn't quite set the fans' enthusiasm alight. After all, it's inevitable that most people's top choices wouldn't make the grade.
The Riddler was easily the bookies' favourite, but some argued (myself included) that his particular brand of insanity might position him a little too close to the Joker in the eyes of the general public. Comparisons to Heath Ledger would have been inevitable, and doubtlessly unfavourable.
Other candidates like Hush, Hugo Strange, Mr. Zsasz and even Harley Quinn might have seemed a good fit for Nolan and Bale's brand of dark realism, so the elimination of any of those choices was bound to bring a certain disappointment, whoever Nolan chose.
But on the other hand, I don't think anyone was expecting him to choose Bane over any of those.
Last seen in Batman And Robin being portrayed by a wrestler (always a mark of quality) and delivering such lines as "Bomb!" "Exit!" and "Get my agent on the phone, immediately!", Bane's appearance was so universally mocked that the odds of a revival surely couldn't have been lower.
But hang on a second. In the comics, Bane was invented for one specific purpose, the storyline Knightfall, in which Bane, an ultra-intelligent, superhumanly strong, expert strategist managed to best Batman on every level, breaking his back and forcing him to quit superheroics (for a while, at least). That version of Bane sounds like a threat that might legitimately test Nolan's Batman. And with Tom Hardy in the role, it's safe to say they probably won't be going the monosyllabic, muscle-bound henchman route.
As a one-man crimewave, the anti-Batman, Bane's inclusion almost makes sense. Give him a slightly more realistic muscle mass and he becomes an easy fit for Nolan's world in both tone and appearance. The real confusion comes from the knowledge that he's going to be teamed up (narratively) with Catwoman. Apparently, one poisonous property wasn't enough for Nolan.
Last seen being played by Halle Berry (who, lest we forget, promoted her role in X-Men by claiming she was "reduced" to playing a superhero), the Catwoman film was so bad, most people were sure she was also out of circulation until the next series reboot at least. Although interestingly, the specific announcement itself purposefully avoids mentioning Catwoman, naming only her civilian identity, Selina Kyle.
Is that because Hathaway won't be suiting up in this film? Or is it because they're trying to sneak Catwoman under the PR radar? Then again, the initial announcement of Harvey Dent didn't mention Two-Face, and we know how that turned out.
If Bane is the anti-Batman, Catwoman is more like a reverse-Batman, carefree, self-interested and more about the thrill of the chase than the satisfaction of the kill. Given that in Nolan's last two Batman films, only two characters have managed to crack a smile (and one of those was insane), it's hard to see what role she might play in the film. Certainly, it seems unlikely we'll see much of the upbeat, flirty and sexually tense relationship Kyle and Wayne have in the comics. Particularly not if Bane is around to given Batman hell.
The casting of Anne Hathaway isn't necessarily a bad idea. If Nolan could see the Joker in the guy from A Knight's Tale and Brokeback Mountain, there's no specific reason to question his judgement in choosing Anne Hathaway. We just need to hope he remembers this time to give his female characters something to do in this film (except die). The real question - the real uncertainty - is about what sort of story could tie together Bane and Catwoman, two characters so vastly different in tone and scope.
Has Nolan found a way to make it work? Honestly, I struggle to see how it can be done. But, if anyone can...
Maybe in the end, the truth is that Nolan genuinely finds these characters more interesting than any of the other options. Or maybe he just likes the challenge of rehabilitating characters whose last screen outings were so terrible, in much the same way he rehabilitated Batman.
All we can do now is sit, wait, and try not to be too judgemental about the most baffling superhero movie developments to come out of Hollywood since, er, the X-Men: First Class teaser image.
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