It goes without saying that the recent confirmations of Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway's roles in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES have gotten the whole internet a’talking. I figured the time was right to go into a little more in-depth analysis 'n speculation about what their involvement might mean and how Bane and Catwoman could figure in to this Bat-finale.
BANEI was initially a little underwhelmed hearing that this was the villain Hardy was actually playing. After a grand schemer like Ra’s al-Ghul and an agent of chaos like the Joker, it honestly sounded anticlimactic for Batman to take on a juiced luchador. Plus, he’s already shown up in the movies, so it might feel repetitive. However, after only a little reflection, I realized Bane’s actually the perfect choice for a final heavy. Out of all the villains left in the rogue’s gallery, he’s one of the few with a gimmick that's still impressive even as it’s close to reality. It takes a lot of creative thinking to devise ways to make reptile men and waking refrigerators work in the more down-to-Earth Gotham Nolan and his crew have established. But Venom? That isn’t far off from monster-making performance drugs like HGH. == TEASER ==
Part of the M.O. of the series so far has been to portray characters in ways closer to the comics than the movies have allowed in the past. Hence, we’ve seen a Bruce Wayne who’s an intentionally buffoonish persona, a seriously embittered Two-Face and a legitimately scary Joker. In BATMAN & ROBIN, Bane was a monosyllabic brute who did Poison Ivy’s dirty work - - a gross simplification of the cerebral and articulate brute who was cunning enough to deduce Batman’s secret identity on his own.
Whereas the previous villains have struck at Batman’s loved ones and psyche, Bane’s the first who’s a very legitimate physical threat. I don’t think he’s going to be a Hulk-like monster who gets absurdly muscular with the twist of a valve. Rather, I see him as a roided-up-but-calculated killer who’s got an arsenal of grappling moves (think more Vale Tudo than pro-wrestling) in addition to the usual choice of knives and guns.
Anybody who doubts if Tom Hardy’s big enough for the part needs to look at the pic to the right. Do you honestly still have doubts? Hardy played a very Bane-like role already as the UK career-convict in BRONSON. Aside from the possibility of a nondescript South American accent, I don't see this being much of a jump from that part.
CATWOMANLooking closely at the press release Warner issued, you’ll notice that Hathaway’s been confirmed as Selina Kyle, not Catwoman. I totally doubt any publicity agent thought that could pull a fast one on audiences and get them to be surprised when she became a cat-burglar (and sometimes vigilante) in the movie. Thus, it suggests that Ms. Kyle might actually just be a love interest for Wayne as a civilian only. Or, they might just repeat THE DARK KNIGHT's treatment of Two-Face and have her do all the things she does in the comics without actually being called Catwoman outside of passing remarks.
Once again, I was a little disappointed to see them use a villainess who’s already shown up in a number of movies (and Michelle Pfeiffer’s sexually-charged dominatrix act is hard one to follow.) I think there’s more to it, now, though. Escalation’s the dominant theme of this new franchise and if Batman’s villains are ramping up in power and theatricality, it follows that his girlfriends would follow suit. The point of Rachel Dawes’ arc was that she, as a normal woman, couldn’t handle Batman’s lifestyle - - both emotionally and literally. She ultimately rejected Bruce because she needed a normal man and ultimately perished for her involvement in this world of psychopaths. Catwoman, for one, wouldn’t be a girl who’d get kidnapped by third-rate crooked cops and, rather than being turned-off by a brooding vigilante, she’d probably be further enticed.