image

The following contains spoilers for various movies about Batman.

In terms of the often rocky relationship between so-called fanboys and the filmmakers who turn the objects of their fandom into movies, Christopher Nolan quite simply gets away with murder.

So eager was the geek community to purge its consciousness of the lesser third and fourth Batman films with Batman Begins - and so grateful are they for his shoving the genre toward respectability with The Dark Knight - that it's ready and willing to forgive him for transgressions of adaptation that one imagines would be met with howls of rage were they to be the work of any filmmaker not named Christopher Nolan.

The Joker wears makeup instead of just looking like that? Ra's al Guhl isn't really immortal? Two-Face only shows up at the end, and then dies right away!? And let's not forget the open secret that Warner/DC's various nudgings toward comic-style inter-property continuity - from George Miller's Justice League movie to the planned presence of a young Bruce Wayne on Smallville - have thus far all failed to materialize because of Nolan's insistence on keeping his Batman a stand-alone enterprise.

Given the way fans of such characters tend to react to both change and missed opportunities, you really have to wonder if there's a breaking point. Is there a point at which Nolan and company's penchant for a stripped-down mythology, radical revisionism and a narrowly-focused, sci fi/fantasy-free Gotham City will finally cause fandom's biggest free pass to get revoked, sending Nolan tumbling down from his perch as the God-King Who (Almost) Got Batman To The Oscars to become another mere mortal filmmaker?

We may be about to find out.

In case you missed it, Warner Bros. has revealed the two new villains and the actors who'll embody them in Nolan's upcoming 3rd-and-final Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. Anne Hathaway is Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, while Tom Hardy is Bane. Yup, there's your lineup: Catwoman and Bane.

They're both pretty surprising choices (in Bane's case it's an outright WTF) but neither one seems inherently unworkable. Still, if you'd have asked me yesterday for a shortlist of characters I'd never have expected to see turn up in this series, they'd both have been on it. My reasons would've been varied, but there's one thing they'd have in common: They both represent, in rather unavoidable ways, material that Christopher Nolan has openly shied away from both in his general filmography and his Batman movies in particular. In other words, they could both go wrong in at least two ways: A.) Proper realization turns out to be outside Nolan's grasp, or B.) Integrating them into Nolan's vision of the mythos requires changes that fans just won't cotton to.

Of course, there's also option C.) Nolan really is that good, sticks the landing, and everyone goes home happy. We shall see. I'm optimistic, so for now let's just call this an intellectual exercise. Here's some background on both characters, where they come from, why it's an unexpected choice and how it could go. Enjoy!

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on