With the script expected in January and shooting set to start in May of 2011, the rumor mill for The Dark Knight Rises is cranking up. The latest speculation has the movie based on Prey, a story arc in the Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight graphic novel series. As the rumor spread like wildfire across the Internet, the frenzy has driven prices way up and flooded the market with copies of the previously commonplace series.
Prey, written by Doug Moench, is an unofficial follow-up to Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One (which influenced Batman Begins and The Dark Knight). It features prominent Gotham psychiatrist Dr. Hugo Strange (rumored to be played by Tom Hardy), who uses his influence on the mayor to form a task force to capture the vigilante Batman, the object of Strange’s obsession. Heading this task force is the newly promoted Commissioner Gordon, who must weigh his responsibilities to Gotham against his loyalties to Batman. Meanwhile, Dr. Strange deduces Batman’s true identity and plays mind games with him, finally attempting to kill the Dark Knight in order to become him.
While this assumption remains wildly speculative, hit the jump to see why it might have a leg to stand on.
- Director Christopher Nolan has made it clear through his previous two installments in the Batman franchise that he prefers gritty, realistic and psychologically driven storylines and villains to over-the-top schlock (see Batman Forever and Batman and Robin).
- Batman Begins and The Dark Knight have both taken influences from existing source material (the previously mentioned Batman: Year One, as well as The Killing Joke, and The Long Halloween) so it’s not a stretch to think they’ll do it again
- The Dark Knight ends (spoiler, but honestly who hasn’t seen this yet?) with Batman running from the law and the citizens of Gotham believing that he killed Harvey Dent. Commissioner Gordon tells his son that they now have to chase Batman.
So with the idea of Prey fitting into canon so nicely, it’s understandable that other entertainment websites would jump at the chance to stir the gossip pot. Total Film even made the guess back in October, although at the time they projected that Hardy would play Max Cort, a psychotic cop with an intense hatred of vigilantes. And of course, the rumor has been supported by a string of phantom sources with no hard evidence except that they knew a guy who knew a guy who has connections with the PR department But this is part of the fun isn’t it? This is what we do when we get excited about a movie that’s sure to be epic. So let’s dig in a little further.
Not only does Dr. Hugo Strange fit in well with Nolan’s preferred villains, he’s one of Batman’s oldest nemeses, predating both the Joker and Catwoman (more on her in a minute). Strange originally was portrayed as more of a mad scientist, but recently has taken on a psychological and manipulative role, preferring to pull strings from behind the scenes. This would be a fantastic contrast to the in-your-face mayhem of The Joker in The Dark Knight.
Heck, even Catwoman shows up in the graphic novel series. The Dark Knight gave a nod to her inclusion in the next film when Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) quips that Batman’s armor “Should do fine against cats.” We all know how much we love speculating about who will play her! Maybe one of these lovely ladies will get the role of Catwoman while the other portrays the damsel in distress? We’ll have to wait and find out.
So for right now, we’ll call this “educated speculation” since it’s far from being a solid fact. Yes, the storyline meshes well with the end of The Dark Knight. Yes, the villain matches Nolan’s tastes. But I have a couple of issues with this line of thought.
The previous installments of this series have been loosely based on graphic novels, but have put forward an original story. While this doesn’t preclude Prey from being source material, I caution that it might only serve to introduce Dr. Hugo Strange as the villain. And how exactly would it jibe with the title, The Dark Knight Rises?
With that being said, Nolan has mentioned that this will be his last involvement with the franchise and plans on closing out the trilogy. I don’t see Prey providing that final act without tying off storylines that were started in Batman Begins. I, for one, fully expect Talia al Ghul to make not only an appearance, but feature prominently in the plot. Her involvement would refer back to the first movie and could tie up the trilogy quite nicely.
But with Nolan wanting to close out the series with the seeming inclusion of villains smarter than Bruce Wayne, there is the possibility that his secret identity may not stay so secret. Could Nolan do the unthinkable? Will the Batman be publicly unmasked in The Dark Knight Rises? Sacrilege, I know. But what a profound way it would be for Nolan to stamp his claim on the final act of this trilogy.