After what seems like eons of speculation, Anne Hathaway has been cast as one of the two female leads in “The Dark Knight Rises,” Warner Bros. announced today. She will play Selina Kyle, while already-announced bad guy Tom Hardy (“Inception”) will be playing Bane.
There are several things worth noting here, but let’s start with the biggest and most obvious: Hathaway’s character, Selina Kyle, is better known as Catwoman. If this were almost any other franchise, the announcement would be cut and dried — so-and-so is playing our villain, the end. But because it’s Christopher Nolan, and everything’s a goddamn puzzle, we have to note that the announcement did not specifically say she will be playing “Catwoman.” It says Selina Kyle, so it’s possible the movie deals with Catwoman’s origins or something, or it’s possible there’s another story-related element here.
Catwoman has a famously checkered history on the big screen. Michelle Pfeiffer’s turn in “Batman Returns” was successful, though she did have to pry that role out of Sean Young’s batty hands. In 2004, Halle Berry took on the character in a solo film, and the result is one of the most maligned and abhorred movies in modern cinema. (There was also Eartha Kitt’s portrayal on the old Adam West TV series.) So whether Hathaway starts the movie as the cat burglar (right? I think?) or transforms into it, it’s pretty solid casting in my opinion. She’s an Oscar nominee, fitting the mold for Nolan’s movies, and she’s also shown a willingness in recent years to take on very diverse and interesting roles. (She’s eight years younger than Christian Bale, if such things matter to you.) She’s talented and has made some good movies. And let’s face it: This could have been much, much worse.
The announcement of Tom Hardy as Bane doesn’t do a whole lot for me. Hardy’s fine, he’s a perfectly good talent and a good fit for the vibe of the series. It sounds decent, but what I recall of Bane was that he was this big hulking bruiser who snapped Batman’s spine at one point in the 1990s. I don’t really remember much beyond that. (He was presumably a great evil strategist or something, because he was a comic book villain.) So I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Nolan is going to slightly reinvent the character and give him some, you know, interesting qualities. (In other words, don’t expect the mute brute from Joel Schumacher’s 1997 disaster, “Batman & Robin.”) I also don’t really think Nolan is going to close out his “Batman” trilogy with the Dark Knight’s spine shattered, so it’ll be interesting to see how Bane’s character is reconfigured as we learn about his eventual role in the film.
The final thing worth noting: The Internet exploded today with the news that Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman, but there’s another female lead waiting to be cast. Is it Talia Al Ghul? We’ll see, but the casting of that role could tell us more about this eventual story. Is Selina Kyle a villain in the movie, or is this other character? Which one is the love interest, or is it both? The movie opens July 2012, so you have another 18 months of speculation to enjoy.