So for the past few weeks it’s been rumored that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be joining Christopher Nolan’s other Inceptionites Tom Hardy and Michael Caine for Nolan’s last Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. I, for one, was super excited when rumor turned to fact and JGL jumped onboard what’s definitely one of my most anticipated films ever.
However, with every bit of happiness there often turns to be quite some uncertainty and frustration added in. The actual ROLE he was cast for wasn’t announce, but a series of rumors started swirling around. Some people were saying JGL would play Albert Falcone, the son of Tom Wilkinson’s Carmine Falcone from Batman Begins. Other said JGL would play a young Dr. Hugo Strange– one of the few men who obsessedly stalks Batman until he discovers his true identity. And yet others would say that JGL would be playing Black Mask, a crazy black skull-faced crime boss hell-bent on overtaking Gotham. Yeah, because THAT would make sense in Nolan’s mostly-reality based Batman films.
Apparently either no one has been paying attention to the Nolan Batman films’ story arc or they just don’t pay attention to details. Christopher Nolan has taken some liberties with the source materials to be sure, but he’s kept the essence and soul of Batman woven deeply in his films. The Dark Knight Rises has so far confirmed several key points which lead to my thoughts on who JPL will play. First, Tom Hardy is going to be playing Bane in the movie.
For those who don’t know, Bane’s claim to fame was a genius lunatic muscle villain who rose to prominence in the Batman: Knightfall graphic novel. In the comic series Bane wanted to destroy Batman and become Gotham City’s criminal overload. He knew Batman was the only thing standing in his way so he busted out a ton of criminals from Arkham Asylum and carefully watched Batman chase them down and put them back in prison again. Batman’s efforts took their toll and left him exhausted. At his most tired point Bane attacked Batman and broke his back.
Second, it’s been confirmed that Anne Hathaway will be playing Selina Kyle, who most everyone knows is Catwoman. In a recent TV interview Ms. Hathaway confirmed she was trying on costumes and going through training– so yeah she’ll play Catwoman. Catwoman is also in the Batman: Knightfall storyline although, honestly, I don’t remember her role all that much. She’ll play the love interest to be sure, but also a more complex one since she can understand the double-life behind a mask like Batman/Bruce Wayne lives.
Now where am I going with all of this and what the hell does it have to do with JGL? In the Batman: Knightfall story Bruce Wayne and Alfred need to cover up Bruce being out of commission so they make up a story about a serious ski accident. But they are torn when it comes to what to do about the idea of Batman. Robin’s in the comic book but since Nolan wouldn’t allow it let’s forget his role here. Ultimately, Bruce decides Batman cannot be out of the public eye or else all the criminals would overtake the city again, not to mention Bane running unchecked is a big problem. So Bruce secretly contacts a friend called Jean-Paul Valley, who is a highly skilled warrior monk or something, and asks him to take on the mantle of Batman for the time being. Problem is Jean-Paul is not the same disciplined guy Bruce is and he starts getting really out of control, even killing a few criminals which Bruce would never do. Jean-Paul (later known as Azrael in the comics) kicks Bane’s ass and starts to get a little bloodlust crazy, forcing Bruce to regain his strength, rebuild himself, and take back the mantle of Batman.
I think this would be the perfect role for JGL, and it would close the Nolan Batman films trilogy just right. Jean-Paul could even be a former League of Shadows member like Bruce, but that’s just details. The primary conflict is within Bruce Wayne. Although Bane breaks his back and his will, it gives Bruce a chance to get out from Batman– give it to someone else so he can heal and go on with his life. After the events of The Dark Knight Gotham City doesn’t even like Batman, and they’re wrongly hunting him for Harvey Dent’s crimes. Azrael poses an interesting question for Bruce; if Bruce Wayne chooses not to be Batman anymore what will happen to Gotham City? In the Batman: Knightfall storyline Bruce passes it on to Jean-Paul Valley hoping he’ll be a suitable replacement. Ultimately, Jean-Paul is not the right heir to the mantle as he becomes obsessed with vengeance and bloodshed, and thus Bruce must continue being Batman as is his destiny.
Even rumors of Marion Cotillard (ALSO from Inception) appearing in The Dark Knight Rises and supposedly playing Talia Al Ghul (Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter, Ra’s played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins) gives even more reason to JGL playing Azrael. Talia would likely reassemble the pieces of the League to take on Batman, revenge for her father’s death at Bruce’s hands. She could breed Bane to be her henchman to kick Batman’s ass. And Jean-Paul could be another “failed” student from the League like Bruce was, but one Bruce came to trust. Ultimately Jean-Paul would prove that he wasn’t disciplined in forgoing vengeance like Bruce does, and Bruce must take him down. Throw in a Catwoman vs. Talia fight for some reason and you’ve got one hell of a movie!