The Christopher Nolan pattern remains consistent. Make a Batman movie that kicks ungodly amounts of ass, then go off and make an unrelated movie that also happens to be really, really good. Rinse. Repeat. (Batman Begins/The Prestige, The Dark Knight/Inception). Which means it's just about time for that car battery to the gut-level Bat awesomeness we know is coming, so Nolan has started to open up about his plans for the Dark Knight follow-up. First, we have a title: The Dark Knight Rises. OK, solid. At least it's not The Dark Knight: Rise of Something. So already we're off to a good start. Secondly, Nolan has put the kibosh on rumors that the main villain for Part 3 would be The Riddler. Again, when people first heard that Ra's al-Ghul was headlining part 1, it didn't sound as cool on paper as it ended up being onscreen, so Nolan has earned our trust. Thirdly...that's about it. We have nothing else to go on, so let the irresponsibly, uninformed, and totally out of our ass speculation begin. Why? Because "the internet," that's why.
The Joker Will Return
"But," you're saying to yourself, "Heath Ledger's dead, and there's no way you could recast such an iconic role." Never say never, Mr. Negative. Nolan recently worked with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, an actor with a Ledger-esque intensity, on Inception. What's more...
Huh? Throw on some scar tissue and pancake make-up and you have yourself the resurrection of the Clown Prince of Crime. JGL has the goods to pull it off, too.
So Will Ra's al-Ghul...Kinda
Nolan let slip two key things. 1) that he's currently seeking a female lead and 2) that he'd "use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we'll be introducing some new ones." Now, the "female lead" rumor has everyone predictably screaming "Catwoman," but hold on. Wouldn't it make more sense for Nolan to bring the series full-circle (he's always claimed to have had a self-contained trilogy in mind) by bringing in al-Ghul's daughter, Talia? She's romanced Bats in the comics, and could become the lover interest/conflict he needs now that Rachel Dawes has gone kablooey.
Killer Croc Will Not Be In It
Word got out that Nolan was setting up production in New Orleans, and instantly people went, "New Orleans¿swamps¿crocodiles¿KILLER CROC!" Slow down. Do you honestly think Nolan, a director who has taken great pains to present the Batman world through a filter of realism¿he even made the Joker's trademark skin and hair just badly applied make-up¿would suddenly go, "Now Batman fights a HALF MAN/HALF CROCODILE!" Of course not. It's not like Brett Ratner has suddenly come onboard. Batman is in New Orleans, clearly, because he needs to sort out their corrupt police force. Best cameo ever.
Purge all memory of Chris O'Donnell and Burt Ward¿this won't be campy Robin. But it does kind of make sense. At the end of Dark Knight, Jim Gordon's son was held hostage by Two-Face and rescued by Batman¿but he also stuck around and witnessed Batman's decision to take the fall for Two-Face's crimes.
As Batman runs off, hunted and alone, the young boy says, "he didn't do anything wrong." Maybe a guy who's completely alone might want some help? Any help? And Gordon is already Batman's biggest fan, so maybe he'd even be cool with the idea of his son taking an apprenticeship.
Batman Will Get Another New Look
In Batman Begins, he wore a bulky hunk of body armor that resembled the latex nightmares of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher movies. In Dark Knight, he upgraded to a piecemeal armor that, at very least, finally allowed him to turn his head at the neck. So maybe after another round of tinkering and streamlining, Bruce Wayne will finally have something that looks, oh I dunno, maybe a little something like¿THIS:
Or maybe Nolan will go this route, just to fuck with us.
This Can Now Happen
A new Batman movie and a new Spider-Man movie in production at the same time? Make this happen, people.