Today was a big day for reveals concerning Christopher Nolan’s Latest entry in the Batman opus, The Dark Knight Rises. Anne Hathaway, long rumored for a role in he film, has been cast as Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman. And it has also been announced that the previously cast Tom Hardy will be playing Batman villain, Bane.
Catwoman is arguably Batman’s third most popular and third most well known villain, behind the Joker and the Penguin. Hathaway will be the fifth woman to portray the character, after Julie Newmar, Eartha Kitt, and Lee Merriweather, all of whom played the character in the 1960s version of Batman (Newmar and Kitt in the TV show, Merriweather in the 1966 motion picture). Michelle Pfeiffer played the character in 1992’s Batman Returns. Hallie Berry played Catwoman in the 2004 film Catwoman, but that character was not Selina Kyle and was quite a ways removed from the Batman mythic.
Hathaway’s casting raises interesting questions as to in what direction Nolan will be going with the character. Since her debut in 1940’s Batman #1, the character has been portrayed as bored socialite who turns to crime for a cheap thrill, a woman driven to crime due to her unhealthy obsession with cats, a prostitute who dons a costume to protect her fellow streetwalkers, and an anti-hero who steals to support quasi-heroic endeavors.
The socialite who turns to crime would be an interesting take, considering that Batman is now a wanted criminal in the franchise. There would be an interesting dichotomy created there. But whichever way the choose to go down, the Oscar nominated Hathaway should have the chops to pull it off.
Tom Hardy playing Bane is a bit puzzling. Bane is a recent creation in the Batman universe. Debuting in 1993, the character in the comics is a savvy South American crime lord who undergoes an experiment that gives him superhuman strength. He is most remembered for the storyline in the comics where he broke Batman’s back.
Bane is usually drawn as a hulking brute, and was portrayed as such when he appeared in 1997’s Batman and Robin. The character was portrayed by a former professional wrestler, Robert “Jeep” Swenson, as a monosyllabic,”Hulk”-like character, much to the disdain of the fans of the more intelligent comic book character.
Hardy should bring more intelligence to the role, but he does seem as physically imposing as role would require. Perhaps Nolan is breaking from the comic book version of the character.