The Dark Knight Rises Casting: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Tom Hardy as Bane

The press release reads as follows:

BURBANK, CA, January 19, 2011 – Warner Bros. Pictures announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises.” She will be starring alongside Christian Bale, who returns in the title role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

Christopher Nolan stated, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story.”

In addition, Tom Hardy has been set to play Bane. Nolan said, “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”

Nolan will direct the film from a screenplay he wrote with Jonathan Nolan, from a story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Nolan will also produce the film with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is slated for release on July 20, 2012. The film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Looks like the rumors surrounding casting and characters were closer than any of us thought. The scuttlebutt for the last several months has been that Catwoman would be in the film, but the inclusion of Bane comes as a surprise. Even more surprising is the fact that both actors named, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy, were actually on the rumored list of actors up for roles in the films (though, Hardy has been confirmed for months now). During the last go-round leading up to The Dark Knight, every nerd with a 56k modem was claiming to know the casting choice for the Joker and not one of them named Heath Ledger.

So, let’s go over some of the longrunning rumors that this debunks. First and foremost, it looks like Dr. Hugo Strange won’t be playing the big part in the film that everyone was guessing. Seems that those reports may have gotten their wires crossed with the upcoming sequel to the “Batman: Arkham Asylum” videogame, “Batman: Arkham City” – a game that will sport Hugo Strange as its primary antagonist.

What we’re still not sure about is who will play the other female lead to which Nolan previously alluded. Months back, Nolan told us that there would be two female leads: a villain and a love interest. With the casting of Selina Kyle, it’s unsure which one of these is being filled. As comic-aficionados can attest, Selina Kyle hasn’t been written as a “villain” for quite some time now. She’s etched out her own place within the Bat-family of crimefighters. That’s no guarantee as to what Nolan has in mind for her in this new film, but it does leave us with a sense of ambiguity.

Worth noting is that the press release never mentions the word “Catwoman.” It never even mentions Anne Hathaway as playing “a villian” (as it does with Tom Hardy’s Bane). This leads us to the possibility that Selina Kyle’s Catwoman alter ego may not even appear in the film (though that seems unlikely). What seems more likely is that the “villainous female lead” we’ve discussed is still open. Talia al Ghul, anyone?

Another thing worth discussing here is the choice of Bane for, what seems to be, the film’s primary antagonist. In 1997’s Batman and Robin, audiences were forced to endure an interpretation of Bane much akin to a Hummer: big, bulky, and with no redeeming value to society. But, that’s never been the character portrayed in the comics. In the mid-90’s arc, “Knightfall” (where Bane was introduced), he was written as the only man to have defeated Batman: he broke his back. This wasn’t a tumbling, monosyllabic-spewing toddler on steroids like we got in Batman and Robin; Bane was a brilliant strategist whose Venom-induced muscles were merely incidental to his criminal genius. Given Nolan’s previous interpretation of Bat-villains, it seems like we may finally see this great character vindicated on film.

Keep your eye to for future updates on everything The Dark Knight Rises-related.