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Opinion: No Main Villain in Batman 3?

With the start of principal photography on Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film getting closer, speculation on the Dark Knight’s next adventure is growing rampant. As the months have passed, there has been increasing anxiety amongst the fans to learn the details of the film’s story and, particularly, the villain(s).
Over the past year or so, there have been various casting rumors for villains such as Catwoman and the Riddler. Talented actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Emily Blunt have been rumored for the role of Selina Kyle while Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Johnny Depp have been frequently mentioned for Mr. Nygma. There’s even been a rumor that Phillip Seymour Hoffman could be up for the Penguin (a rumor that was also prevalent prior to The Dark Knight’s production). Killer Croc is the most recently rumored nemesis for the film. But that’s precisely what all these reports are: rumors.
Even the actors slated to return, like Gary Oldman and Michael Caine, have said they don’t know who Batman will be facing come spring.
With filming slated to begin six months from now and the lack official casting news or villain reports, this leads me to speculate, could Batman 3 not have a main villain?
It seems like a highly unlikely scenario, but it really depends on the story. Back in March, Christopher Nolan spoke to the L.A. Times about his new Superman film and third Batman film. In the article he emphasized the return supporting cast and his focus on viewing the film as the ending of a story rather than the expansion of a story.
“The key thing that makes the third film a great possibility for us is that we want to finish our story. And in viewing it as the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story…I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters. My brother has come up with some pretty exciting stuff. Unlike the comics, these things don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful. Viewing it as an ending, that sets you very much on the right track about the appropriate conclusion and the essence of what tale we’re telling.”
Nolan went on to say that he didn’t feel right talking about the villains but did reveal it won’t be Mr. Freeze.
The above quote stuck out to me. That Nolan is more focused on telling an appropriate story to bring his Bat-saga to an end says to me that the next film will not be just another story about Batman having to foil a new villain who is terrorizing Gotham. Obviously Nolan could do his finale and incorporate a new main villain, but would Nolan shoe horn in a villain just because that’s what everyone expects?
Now think back to the ending of The Dark Knight. The film ends with Batman taking the blame for the death of Harvey Dent and all the people that Dent murdered in order to keep the hope of the city. Ultimately, I think Nolan will focus on how Batman’s change in status will impact Bruce Wayne, James Gordon, Alfred and maybe Lucius Fox, and the conflicts that arise from that.
Whatever rogues gallery villains Nolan and Goyer may use, I imagine they will be more low-key like Ra’s al Ghul, Scarecrow and Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins as it relates to screen time and prominence. A scenario I personally would love to see is a Long Halloween like Situation where Gotham is overrun with the freaks, and several rogues gallery characters could appear in small roles. Afterall, The Long Halloween has often been cited as an influence on Nolan and Goyer’s take on the character. Something else I think likely is that a more “human” villain like politician Rupert Thorne be used and he could hire someone like Deadshot to take down the Bat. This is pure speculation on my part though.
I would be really happy to see Catwoman and Riddler in the next film. In fact, many web sites such as BOF and IGN claim their sources are saying Catwoman will be in the film. With Batman a fugitive, she certainly fits. As for the Riddler, he is personally my favorite Batman villain aside from the Joker (and Gary Oldman’s too). Before The Dark Knight, I was already wishing to see Nolan’s interpretation of the Prince of Puzzles. Many fans would agree that the Riddler could easily fit Nolan’s more grounded-in-reality take on the mythos. I have also felt that with a character like the Riddler, Nolan could have fun forcing the audience to pay attention as he’s done with his other, Non-Batman movies. But ultimately the issue at hand is, is that the right story to tell as a follow up to The Dark Knight? We will all find out soon.
And frankly, as much as I would be happy with either Catwoman or the Riddler, I personally would rather see a villain that hasn’t been used on the big screen before which makes characters such as Black Mask and even Killer Croc sound all the more appealing to me. Either way, my gut feeling says that Nolan will do something unexpected with the next movie.

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