8 Picks For Who Tom Hardy Might Play in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES!

Ok, so I put my whole chips on Tom Hardy joining the cast of The Dark Knight Rises as the puzzling, narcissistic Edward Nygma/The Riddler - so very confident that I had a very strong hand, but director Chris Nolan called my bluff this week and I lost it all. Needles to say I didn't see that coming. Focus then for the last few days has shifted onto solving the Hardy casting question. Who is he playing, what is Nolan planning here? It's not quickly obvious, certainly nobody knows for sure and there's not much in the new title to give us a clue. All we can definitely be assured of is that Hardy has been offered a major character - we don't yet know if it's villainous. If it is a villain, we've scoured Batman rogue's gallery for clues but now that we are preparing for movie number three in this series and with The Riddler and Mr. Freeze having already been ruled out by Nolan, there's very few marquee villains left. We presume (but could just as easily make an ass of ourselves at the same time) Catwoman is appearing, but we think she'll be the femme fatale and not the main baddie. Perhaps it might be worth re-watching the end of The Dark Knight in trying to predict how Batman, on the run for the Harvey Dent murders, continues to protect Gotham as it's silent guardian. Just how does he rise and redeem himself? As we like to do in our Fantasy Casting features, here's eight potential directions Nolan may go;

Tom Hardy as Detective Harvey Bullock

The best explanation offered for the role Hardy might have been offered, I think, comes from Batman on Film - who in reaction to IMDB's rumour that the London born actor will play corrupt cop Detective Harvey Bullock -- suggest he could easily be re-imagined as an over-eager and ambitious cop who has an eye on Gordon's job and sees taking down Batman as his best chance of that happening. To me, that sounds very Nolan-ish. Think about it - the way The Dark Knight ended with Batman on the run and the cops having to chase him (despite Gordon knowing and not being able to tell the truth) hints at the cops acting as a major antagonist in this film, with Bruce Wayne having to re-deem his alter-ego. Friction between Gary Oldman's Gordon and Hardy's Bullock would be something cool to see on screen as Bullock's unit begins to take the power of Gotham's police force under the direction of the Mayor (hopefully a returning Nestor Carbonell). For this new Bullock, think maybe Colin Farrell in Minority Report. We aren't saying he should be the only villain or anything like that, or even a villain at all in the traditional sense BUT I've liked this suggestion ever since I heard it.

Tom Hardy as The Penguin

The most well known Batman villain left from the rogue's gallery that Chris Nolan hasn't yet ruled out, The Penguin has had two very famous and very different portrayals on screen. First there was Burgess Meredith's camp-tastic turn in the Adam West show of the 60's where he was one of the top tier villains, and then there's the main baddie from Batman Returns, where Tim Burton and his actor Danny DeVito created a monstrous, literal bird-man, green blooded baddie. Of course, the former was more accurate to his comic book portrayal. Essentially, Oswald Cobbelpott is a crime boss who resides at The Iceberg Lounge and calls himself The Penguin because of the expensive aristocrat attire he presents himself with (the pin striped suite, cigar. white gloves, etc). Now there's many reasons to think that Hardy could be The Penguin. The previous two movies all had a bob moss as a driving force of the narrative (Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins played by Tom Wilkinson and Eric Roberts turn as Salavatori Marone in the sequel), and this kind of realistic, machine-gunned wielding Penguin who operates for greed (for power and money), would work nicely. However, despite the character having much clout, would he really feel that threatening? Those previous mob bosses I mentioned were important factors of the previous movies but at the end of the day, they were still little more than supporting characters. Regardless though, Tom Hardy would fit in nicely with a re-envisioned Penguin and would make him physically more imposing than he has ever been on film.

Tom Hardy as Hush

This one has received much backing amongst the community already and we sure think it's a villain that has potential legs for a live action feature. If Nolan was to use Hush, it would be a direct modern influence on the new movie as the character has only existed since 2002 - around the same time Nolan won his pitch to make Batman Begins at Warner Bros. But in less than ten years of existence Hush has gained a real following and it's easy to see why. With his titular tale, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale created a Bat-yarn that twisted and turned, and had us all hooked and second-guessing ourselves as to who the bandaged, hidden-face, trench coat wearing villain could be. The main narrative of Hush is focused on Dr. Thomas Elliott, a childhood friend of Bruce whose share an early connection as they are both from privileged families. However where Bruce Wayne's parents were loving and caring, Elliott's weren't and they abused their son. When Elliott tried to murder his own mother, Thomas Wayne saved her, leaving a grudge between Elliott and the Wayne's that always simmered under the surface. Essentially, Hush is the dark side of what could have happened to Bruce, a dark mirror so to speak. If redemption comes after revenge, then this storyline would fit just as well as any other. Also, it would be pretty cool to have a mystery villain that could potentially hint at the red-herring of Two Face's return (man bandaged up which would fit the character's scarring in the last movie, etc) and Aaron Eckhart could be listed on the billing in flashbacks (a AND.... Aaron Eckhart) which would heighten the expectation that he might still be alive. Hardy is an actor of such depth, he would be convincing as both Elliott and the villainous Hush.

Tom Hardy as Black Mask

Again a more recent villain that has gathered a great amount of fans. Black Mask is a nickname for Romain Sionis, a gangster who like Elliott is the darker twin to Bruce Wayne (another driven man who comes from a privileged background, but he was never close to his parents - his mask is made out of his father's coffin). He is dangerous, psychotic and although similar in ways to The Joker (including his distinctive visual signatures), he could work, especially if a compulsive thief who wants to be good like Selina Kyle, works for him and adds that extra dimension to the narrative. The problem Nolan and Hardy would have with Black Mask is making him look sinister rather than B-movie silly.

Tom Hardy as Dr. Hugo Strange

Dr. Hugo Strange is a mad scientist and was one of the first recurring Batman villains that was introduced into the DC canon, actually debuting some months before Catwoman and The Joker. He works in Arkham Asylum (already used frequently in the previous films) and it€™s a popular trait that he knows the true identity of Batman and in a more interesting and ironic twist the doctor hates the genetic science he studies because nature has made him balding, short and a loner. He keeps his body to the peak of physical perfection but he does not know what to do with it, he is a much darker image of Batman. In Nolan's universe, he could be a scientist who has spent so long studying and analysing criminals of Gotham that he has turned himself crazy, and perhaps they could use the storyline where he thinks he is actually Batman. Again whether this character would be threatening enough to lead a film on his own is another question.

Tom Hardy as BANE

In the comics, the man who broke Batman€™s back and crippled him for over a year. Bane spent his childhood on an offshore and dirty prison where through a forced experiment on him€ he gained superhuman strength (which can only be kept up via large doses of venom, which he regularly must intake) but he ain€™t just some big wrestler. He is one of the smartest Batman villains, which makes him a deadly foe indeed. He isn€™t just a big muscle guy like he was portrayed as Poison Ivy€™s sidekick in Batman & Robin €“ he is much smarter than that, often being able to second guess Batman€™s next movie. Despite the character allowing Hardy to play a villain who uses his brawn and intelligent to take down Batman, we can€™t see him being used in any form, can you?

Tom Hardy as DEADSHOT

Floyd Lawton (aka Deadshot) is a DC comics villain that could easily be re-shaped to fit into this Bat-realistic world. At his core, he is little more than a hired assassin who can't wait to boast that 'he never misses'. His action figure style costume could easily be tamer, and he could even loss his mask. A hired assassin from the police force assigned, against Gordon's orders, to take down the fugitive known as Batman. Why not?

Tom Hardy as ORIGINAL CHARACTER

Whether it is as a villain or a good guy, with Nolan ruling out classic characters such as Freeze and Riddler already, we wonder if Nolan has a specific kind of character he wants to create here. He has done it before with Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllenhaal's Rachel Dawes, and when you see some of the names above, it's certainly easier to believe he is playing a new creation. Certainly a new character would give Nolan plenty of freedom to build a character that suits the story he wants to tell. Sooooo after these eight choices, are we any closer to working out the truth of who Hardy might be playing? No, not really. But we are sure interested to see how all this turns out, right? Do comment below on these choices, and if there's any characters you think I might have missed.... (P.S. - Obviously I didn't include Killer Croc, Mad Hatter, Clayface, Robin and others, because anyone who suggests them is F'N' insane).
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.