Debate of the Day: If Not the Riddler, Then Who?

Yesterday brought two very important announcements concerning Batman 3, and one of those very news items was that we can stop calling it Batman 3 and start calling it The Dark Knight Rises. But mainly, the other bit of info, where Chris Nolan explicitly states the Riddler is NOT the villain in the film is the more interesting bit.

This is kind of a surprise and a bit of a disappointment to me and others, as I for one thought that even if the Riddler was the “expected” choice, that Nolan’s signature, twisting, turning, plotline intersecting storytelling style would have suited a Riddler story quite well, and many of the other villains Batman encounters aren’t really based in the kind of plausible reality that Nolan has set up. He’s said no to Mr. Freeze, but the Penguin would have to be drastically revamped, and other than die hard fans, few people know who characters like Black Mask and Mobius are. The film is shooting in New Orleans at least for a scene or two, so some have speculated Killer Croc is in the mix, but again, not sure how that fits into a Nolan universe.

The other clue is Tom Hardy, who we’re all assuming will be playing the (a) villain. Yes, this might not be the case, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet given the actors’ onscreen persona. But if Heath Ledger can play the Joker, surely Hardy could be transformed into any of these potential villains, so I’m not sure how much his casting helps our speculation.

I’m interested to hear you say what villain you think SHOULD be in the film and which WILL be, and if those two things line up. Let me know in the comments.

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  1. I don’t think they’re done with Dent. The Dark Knight built up to a giant Two-Face story that kind of ended because the movie was already 2 hours long. Also, I feel like Joesph Gordon Levitt could easily play the Joker if need be (he looks a lot like Ledger). That said, I don’t think either of them could be the main villain.

    I think that leaves the Penguin, Bane and possibly still the Killer Croc for Hardy to play. And beyond that, there still isn’t a love interest yet so that leaves Catwoman and Tali al Ghul also.

    And beyond that, Nolan might be lying about the Riddler anyway. He’s very secretive and loves keeping stuff under the radar. Michael Bay’s the same way (I’m ashamed I’m comparing the two) and he’s lied about things not being in the Transformers movies that ended up showing up anyway. Nolan could be doing the same (of which I hope, I want to see him play the Riddler).

  2. As stoked as I am about Hardy’s casting, I could careless who he’s playing.

    With that said, I’m no a huge comicbook person but from what I read, Bane would be great. In Noaln’s Batman Bane would fix great and I can easily see Bale’s Batman fighting it out with Hardy’s Bane.

  3. Safe bet has to be Bane. It’s a very realistic villain, a must for the Nolanverse. And I get the feeling that Hardy would be able to beef up for the role quite well.

  4. Has to be Ra’s al Ghul… A younger version of him at least. I mean look at the guy, he could pass for a young Liam Neeson. Also, having the word ‘Rises’ in the title has to indicate some sort of resurrection theme. Just my two cents… Keep the change.

  5. I like the Black Mask, I think he could easily be implemented in the Nolan-Batman Universe. Plus he is kind of like and evil version of Bruce Wayne/Batman. I also think that the Riddler is not dead in the water just yet, maybe when the film release is closer Nolan gives some crap like “he is not the Riddler everyone knows and loves.” Or that he is not called the Riddler, like Harvey Dent is never actually called Two-Face directly. He could just be Edward Nigma.

    As for Bane and Killer Croc, I feel like they do not fit in as well to Nolan’s more realistic version of Batman, especially Killer Croc. It will probably wind up being a lesser known villain, because honestly, how many people are going to skip the Dark Knight sequel because they are not familiar with the villain?

  6. I would be really surprised if Killer Croc was in the film. I don’t expect Christopher Nolan to use more fictional villains with origins of a more “scientific” comic-book nature. Also Christian Bale would probably go all Terminator Salvation on fighting a CGI villain.

    Could be Hush, but I loathe the idea of a Jeph Loeb character and he’s more tied to the entire rogue gallery of Batman anyways.

    Maybe Hardy will be a related hero like Green Arrow. or a supporting character representing something like the League of Assassins. Deadshot would be a good character too.

    Doctor Destiny could be a villain, in which case he can combine the plot of Inception with Batman.

    I’ll vote for the Mad Hatter too.

  7. Ok, this might be a little bit out of the box but Lex Luthor could be an option. Nolan is writing the new Superman movie so he might be looking for some crossover. I don’t see Ra’s al Ghul happening and Bane or Killer Croc can’t be the main villain.

  8. I for one am glad the riddler won’t be in it. I think he would be too similar to the joker. I could see killer croc because when he first appeared he was just a gangster with a skin condition, not the giant half croc/half man monstrosity he is now. Another possibility I hear thrown about regularly is hugo strange, who admittedly, I’m not too familiar with.
    Though if I was a betting man, I would say the main villain will be black mask.

  9. He was pretty big as Bronson so I’d love to see him as Bane. Break Batman’s back, have JGL come in as Azrael and bom pow surprise! You’ve got yourself a mothereffin fantastic movie.

  10. At the moment, I think the Penguin is a shoe-in for one villain. The Dark Knight left a void at the top of the mob, a position that he traditionally holds. I always figured he’d team with the Riddler, but since that’s apparently a no-go I’m going to guess either Catwoman, Poison Ivy or Harley Quinn. Catwoman has a on/off relationship with the Penguin in the comics, a realistic Ivy isn’t much of a stretch and Quinn would provide a nice tie-in to the 2nd act. Any of the three would do as an interesting villain, and either Cats or Ivy would provide a potential replacement for Rachel as Batman’s love interest.

    I’m not really buying the Killer Croc and Bane suggestions. The Nolan Batmans are very down-to-earth and realistic. There’s explanations for everything, and no CGI. I don’t know how you do Croc or Bane like that.

  11. Tom Hardy would be perfect for Hush and would be the best fit for the Nolan universe, plus in the Hush series, Harley Quinn was a big part of it so that would work in the female lead who could be out for vengeance about the joker being incarcerated.

  12. At the end of dark Knight Batman is technically the villian and is now being hunted. The city will need someone to hunt him down, find his secrets, and deduce his identity. Sounds like a riddle that needs solving so they bring in someone good at riddles with a tendency towards green clothing and bowler hats. He’d technically be the hero to the city. so Nolan can claim The Riddler isn’t the “villain” and still keep us Batfans guessing. Also since its a trilogy and to bring it full circle, the Al Ghuls will come out the woodworks.

  13. I too thought that the Two-Face storyline wasn’t quite as developed as one of the five or so biggest Batman villains would so deserve. I’m certainly not meaning this as a criticism of the previous film, just that Dent (and Eckhart’s performance) warrants more attention in the series. There could definitely be ties to the “resurrection” hinted at by the title.

    I was sort of thinking that the villain might be someone like Zsasz. A realistic take on a Batman villain, and a little closer to Hardy’s body type than Riddler who’s a thin, wiry guy. On the other hand, he’d need to hit the gym HARD to make a decent sized Bane.

    Considering that Nolan’s last two Batman efforts have sort of had two villains – Ra’s and Scarecrow in the first, and Joker & Two-Face in the second (Scarecrow was only in one scene so it doesn’t count) – there’s probably a missing cast member yet.

    It seems pretty clear that they’re looking for a new female lead, which would normally mean one of three choices: Babs Gordon (who is too young in the Nolanverse), Catwoman, or Talia Al Ghul. That being said, I’d have never picked Scarecrow or Ra’s to appear in the first film, so maybe Nolan is going to fool us all and make the villain Lady Shiva.

  14. Note that Nolan said the Riddler is not THE villain…it’s possible he could still be one of several villains in the film (much like Scarecrow, Falcone, Zassz, and Ra’s were in BB, and Maroni, Two-Face, Scarecrow & Joker were in TDK).

    As for Hardy, he’s equally adept at playing both good and evil characters. After his amazing performance in Bronson, I could easily see him playing a very interesting variation of The Penguin: something of a West End London gangster with delusions of grandeur (loves his tuxedos and umbrellas) who takes over the mob in Gotham after the leadership was eliminated by Two Face.

    Other possibilities: the ventriloquist (though he doesn’t seem the meek and mild type), which could set up Scarface in this role of taking over the mob. Hush could also be a good villain too, and a great way to parralel what Bruce Wayne could have been, while keeping the audience guessing (is the man in the bandages Harvey Two Face???)

    I don’t think Croc or Bane are likely, as they rely on SF or outlandish elements that just would not be at home in the realistic noir setting that’s been so carefully established thus far.

    Joker as a character is unlikely, as Nolan has already ruled out recasting. However, I agree that Gordon-Leavitt would be perfect casting. Maybe a cameo in Arkham?

  15. Maybe he goes with a Hush/Bane hybrid?

    Hardy could play another rich playboy (maybe a childhood friend of Bruce’s) who tries to fill the void Batman leaves for a hero of Gotham. But because he inferior to Batman, he relies on drugs, and uses brute force to subdue criminals, but is still highly intelligent. This fits into how Bane originally was, before the crazy Venom trips.

    Also, Clayface is a really cool idea.

  16. I know it’s probably a longshot but Harley Quinn should be in this movie. How it works without the Joker(i dont see Nolan recasting him)? No clue. But they should figure it out. She’s the second best villain only second to the Joker. Make it happen. Now!

  17. Catwoman for both who I’d like to see as the villain, and who should be the villain. If Nolan’s expertise is characterization, just imagine what he could do with the love story. Rachel is dead, Batman lost the love of his life. He finds love through Selina, then finds out she’s Batman’s enemy. The scene in “Returns” when they’re dancing and find out who they are is probably my favorite scene in the film. Nolan can easily turn that suspense into a good portion of the film.

    Or he could just make her a prostitute like in the comics and axe the love story altogether. In which case I think Nolan may just bring out another “C-list” villain most people aren’t familiar with. I never even heard of Rhas Al Goul until “Begins” came out, but Nolan makes it work. In which case, I’ll go for either the clay guy, or man-bat lol. Though if Nolan decides on Bane and does the storyline where Batman is paralyzed that would be awesome.

  18. I’m betting on Hush or Deadshot. Yes they already did Deadshot on the Gotham Knight dvd but I think that’s pretty trivial, he would fit perfectly into the mythos of the next film seeing as how it will most likely have a big price on Batman’s head. I can see Tom Hardy as a gentleman assassin as well.

  19. No one wants to acknowledge this, but he could be Robin in the Nolanverse. Nolan steeps things in reality, and in reality, Robin would have to be a badass like Batman. Robin needs a reboot like batman needed. Hardy looks fairly young, so he would make a perfect Dick Grayson. Hardy should have been the next Bond, but a role in two Nolan Blockbusters is fair enough.

  20. @Ross

    Crazy idea! Crazy enough to be true? I’m doubting it…..

    DarkPassenger seems to be right. There’s rumors popping up everywhere now stating that Hardy will be playing Bullock. This is also leading to the next female lead being Bullock’s partner. But this still leaves an opening for a villain. Hmmmm……

  21. @ross and comfortablemadness
    Robin could work but nolan has said in quite a few interviews that robin doesn’t have a place in his universe. Also christian bale only signed on for begins on the stipulation that robin would never be in the series.

  22. Thomas Elliot aka Hush.

    Just gotta kick Batman when he’s down.

    Have Elliot find out that Bruce Wayne is Batman about forty five minutes in and just have him hang it over his head the rest of the movie. Not only will Wayne have problems in his civilian life, all of Gotham City wants Batman’s head on a platter anyway.

    That being said, it would be great having the Riddler as a secondary villain (like Two Face was to Joker). His dumbass riddles and his egotistical attitude will just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

    And then have Tali al Ghul as the love interest because why the hell not?

  23. Not a big fan of Batman but if Tom Hardy’s in it then i’ll be catching this in the cinema.

    The guys an absolute genius and anyone who has seen “Martina Cole’s; The Take” or “Bronson” will agree. This guy will make this movie in the same way as Ledger did the Dark Knight.

    He’s not very well known but i’m telling you now, he’ll be the guy everyone’s talking about in a few years and i’d even have him as a future James Bond.

    Stunning. Stunning actor.

  24. Harley Quinn would be great if Nolan wants to take a more literary perspective; he could demonstrate how the fascist Batman character is like the military; though he can put on a good show he’s incapable of actually making the city any better and often makes things much worse. This could play on the fact that he murdered the guy (Dent) trying to improve the city and his conscience (Rachel) was killed as a result of his exception to the rule of law.

  25. I think the Knightfall storyline works well with the “Dark Knight Rises” title, and it could work to Nolan’s advantage, stylistically, to have a “realistic” Bane/Azrael combo. That could be good.

    Either that or Bat-Mite.

    Hee haw.

  26. TOM HARDY AS THE NEXT BOND. I’m so glad I read these comments. He’s perfect for the role. He is fairly unknown but he has very high potential for becoming a well known A-list actor. Amazing.

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