Director Christopher Nolan recently announced the official working title for his third outing in the Batman Begins (BB)/The Dark Knight (TDK) franchise. The movie will be called The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR). Following recent news that Nolan had cast Tom Hardy from Inception in an unspecified, large role for the movie, we now have a title and a little bit more news. Nolan confirmed in an interview with Hero Complex that the villain will NOT be The Riddler, so that puts the axe to that rumor mill.
Most fans were speculating that Hardy would be playing the Riddler, many fans were calling it a certainty, even though I never bought into it (I actually have never been of the mind that the Riddler was ever going to be the villain in B3, just saying). This recent confirmation certainly narrows down the list as to who Hardy could be playing, and that's assuming he'll be a villain. What's not to say he'll be Nolan's take on fan favorite, Detective Harvey Bullock? If Hardy were the villain, expect it to be who you would not expect. Sure the Joker was noticably gonna be The Dark Knight's villain because of the Easter Egg at the end of Batman Begins, and if you follow the continuity of The Long Halloween comic series, Two-Face's rise and the Joker's rise work so well together, it's almost a disservice not to have the two in conjunction. But looking at what Nolan did with Batman Begins, I'd say it is more likely with The Dark Knight Rises to follow a similar villain pattern.
Word is, like BB, that TDKR will be shot primarily on soundstages, and only the exterior shooting will occur in Chicago, where as almost all of the footage in TDK, both exterior and interior, was shot in Chi-Town. Not only will BB and TDKR share this similarity, but I believe Nolan will take a similar approach in terms of the villain. With BB, Nolan chose the Scarecrow, Carmine Falcone, and Ra's Al Ghul as villains, three villains that are major to comic book readers, but unknowns to non-comic bookies. Where as villains like the Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, and Two-Face, are knowns to those not affiliated with the comics. I'm expecting Nolan to throw a curve ball, so no, I do not think that the villain will be Catwoman, so the recent news that Nolan is meeting with young 20-something actresses for an unspecified female role should most likely not be taken as Catwoman is gonna be the villain. Whether or not Selina Kyle and her feline alter ego make an appearance is up to Nolan, but I think if Nolan rejects a character like the Penguin as being too fantastical, than Catwoman is in the same leagues. So whose that leave left for villains, and who is this unspecified female role?
As for who I think the villain will be, Batman has one of the greatest rogues galleries of any superhero, with so many memorable villains that you could make movies all about on their own. On this front, the gangster Black Mask is a popular guess for Hardy, some even mention the Mad Hatter, though I've wanted to throw someone like Killer Croc and Clayface into the mix. Even though Nolan is against the fantastical, I think these two could be done credibally and realistically if thought about in the right way. I mean, Killer Croc could be a circus freak who's real strong and feral with a bad skin condition, or Clayface be a man who uses clay to distort his appearance and uses hardened clay weapons to pull of crimes. Just examples of realistic takes on these characters that are deemed fantastical. As for the unspecified female role, it could tie into the villain. While I doubt Nolan will do Poison Ivy, I think someone like Talia Al Ghul, Ra's Al Ghul's daughter, could be a great love interest and villain for Bruce to face, and not to mention it would sort of round out the trilogy starting with a connection from BB to TDKR in terms of villain, and could also be a reason to bring back Liam Neeson as Ducard. Primarily though, I think that this female role will be a love interest good guy, most likely Vicki Vale.
Now what does this title mean, The Dark Knight Rises? I think Rises is the primary word. He's not having to Return from anything, so that would be stupid word choice, and we already know that he is The Dark Knight, thanks to the brilliant soliloquoy from Gordon at the end of the last movie. If you think on the events of TDK and how that movie ended, this title gives you an inkling not just to its significance, but how it will most likely shape the story.
From the Joker's arrival in Gotham to his capture in the end, he brought so much havoc upon Gotham City that when Batman finally managed to stop him, everything that Batman had worked for was destroyed. Batman tried to save Rachel, but saved Harvey instead (and yes, this is what I believe happened, I think the Joker knew he was gonna save Rachel so he tricked him telling him where Harvey was instead, as is evidenced by Batman's surprise and hesitation when he enters the room of barrels and sees Harvey, not Rachel). Back on track. That event scarred the White Knight of Gotham, Harvey, and ruined any further chance of Batman gaining public support through one of his greatest allies. Not only that, he intentionally framed himself as Dent's killer so that Dent's image would not be tarnished and Gotham would not fall into worse turmoil, assuming the mantle of the Dark Knight. We end the movie with Batman being chased by the police and Gordon destroying the bat signal atop Gotham PD. So Batman is a vigilante hunted by the law, and this is where The Dark Knight Rises will most likely start.
Batman is still hunted by the police, but by this movie being called The Dark Knight Rises, I think that this movie will be all about Batman's own redemption. One of the common themes of Nolan's Bat-movies has been, "Things were always gonna get worse before they got better," and I think that this final movie will be where they get better. TDK is where they got worse, now he must Rise, but not just in the eyes of Gotham's citizens, but in himself. Batman pretty much lost faith in himself after letting Rachel die and not being able to save her, not to mention the whole predicament with Harvey. While he brought the Joker to justice, there will just be another freak to take his place. I think Batman is coming out of his darkest moment as a hero, and he will be redeemed in TDKR, as noticed by the title.
Ultimately, most of this is just guesswork. I have no inside track on the villains or supporting cast that will be included, nor on the story that there will be, all I can do is make educated assumptions based on what I know and my knowledge of the Batman comic books. While I feel The Dark Knight Rises is sort of wordy for a movie title, it works. We'll just have to wait and see if any of my guesses come to fruition.