Friday, December 17, 2010

Tom Hardy Not Playing Dr. Strange

We can probably safely rule Hardy out as Bane, too.

Looks like Tom Hardy is out as Dr. Hugo Strange, as indicated by batman-on-film:

I can tell you who he [Hardy] is NOT playing: Hugo Strange. This comes to me via a very solid source, so you can at least start heading to the bank with it. Who IS Hardy going to play? We'll know in early 2011...or so I hear.

This opens up several possibilities about what role Hardy might play. It's likely that if he's not someone like Deadshot or Black Mask, he would be Sgt. Max Cort or perhaps even Harvey Bullock. Cort, as you might know, is the rogue cop in the Gotham PD obsessed with Batman. Dr. Strange later manipulates Cort into donning a disguise as a vigilante in order to blame Batman for further crimes.

So, thus far we've got Dr. Strange as a principal villain, and possibly a bad cop in Max Cort to boot. With Nolan scouting locations in Asia, it's becoming increasingly likely Talia al Ghul will join the roster of villains for 'DKR' as well.

Of course, there's still nothing official coming from Nolan or anybody at WB just yet. For all we know, all these rumors are just running interference for the actual story. We should know with certainty who the main villains will be sometime early next year. For now, it's probably a safe bet to go with Dr. Strange and a bad cop as two possible adversaries for the Dark Knight.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Case for Clayface

Clayface in, surprisingly enough, one of his happier moods.

Over the last few weeks I've been running through possible villains for 'DKR' with one common theme: realism. Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, and Bane are all realistic villain choices for a Nolan-style Batman film.

But what about an unconventional, more fantastical villain? Why not one that breaks the mold (literally) previously set by Joker, Two-Face, Ras al Ghul, and Scarecrow?

Why not the former actor turned shape-shifter, Clayface?

Basil Karlo, or Matt Hagen, depending on which version you prefer, has donned the Clayface title since the 50s when he first tangled with the Batman. He, like Mr. Freeze, became one of Batman's reoccurring sci-fi foes.

Perhaps most famously, Clayface appeared in the cleverly titled "Feat of Clay" in Batman: The Animated Series, voiced by 'Hellboy' aka Ron Perlman. BTAS depicted his origin as a B-Movie actor long past his prime who becomes disfigured in an accident. A new chemical called RenuYou allows him to mold his face back to its ruggedly handsome proportions, a feat plastic surgery would take "decades to accomplish." The catch? RenuYou is highly addictive, and its creator, Roland Daggett, makes Hagen commit crimes in exchange for more of the compound. One night, caught stealing RenuYou from the factory, Hagen is doused in the chemical by Daggett's goons. This soaks every cell in his body with the strange chemical, and gives him the power to shape shift at will. Clayface first attempts to kill Daggett with his new powers, but runs afoul of Batman.

While the plot from "Feat of Clay" is probably a little too far-fetched for Nolan's Batman, it still harbors similar themes. Clayface is a sympathetic villain driven mad by his disfigurement who eventually abuses his new powers as a criminal. Batman is also a villain of sorts, often bending the line between good and evil in his quest to thwart Gotham's worst criminals. Both have dual identities, but favor the side of them that involves indulging in violent, dangerous behavior. Most importantly, both are seeking some kind of redemptive solution to their lives. Batman doesn't want to have to continue acting as Gotham's Dark Knight, and Hagen really just wants his old life back. Both are ultimately victims of extraordinary circumstances that have altered their lives completely, and have chosen to react by taking on strange new identities.

"What do you mean my health insurance doesn't cover deformity caused by clay?"

But, could Clayface work in Nolan's Batman? Yes. Very well, actually. It's already established in 'Batman Begins' that strange, sci-fi type chemicals exist in Scarecrow's fear serum. It wouldn't be much a stretch to introduce a new elixir that can turn one's face into puddy. As a matter of fact, odd chemicals seem to be a reoccurring prop in many Batman stories. There's the green sludge that turns an ordinary thief into the Joker, the fear toxin, and the renewing properties of the Lazarus Pit.

Speaking of the Lazarus Pit, this brings me to how Clayface can bring in Talia al Ghul, who is a possible villain in 'DKR.' You could have the chemical that turns Matt Hagen into Clayface as a derivative of the mystic waters of the Pit. Investigating its source could lead Batman full circle back to al Ghul's hideout, where Talia lies in wait to get revenge for her father's death.

But ignoring Talia for now, Clayface could also simply be a criminal who can alter his appearance at will without the ability to turn his arms into giant mace clubs. That would make him more realistic while still keeping with the sci-fi vibe. As the movie progress, Clayface would of course become more addicted to the serum, leading him into bigger crimes, while also gaining more shape-shifting power. Eventually, you'd have a showdown between him and Batman, where Hagen might have to choose between facing justice but saving himself, or continuing on as a powerful freak addicted to the chemical that makes him Clayface.

Or, Clayface could actually be a full-fledged monster as he is shown in the comics and cartoons. We don't often see shape-shifters in movies anymore--the last decent one was probably the T-1000 from 'Terminator 2'--but when they're done right they make for excellent antagonists. It's tempting to dismiss Clayface as too far-fetched, but maybe that's what a third Batman film needs. Ras al Ghul exhibited a kind of supernatural mystique in 'Begins,' while 'Dark Knight' went the route of an action thriller in the mold of 'Heat.' So, this would be a returning to form for 'Dark Knight Rises.'

And besides, I don't know about you, but there's always been something especially creepy about 'Clayface.' The yellow eyes. The cavernous mouth. The dripping appendages. He probably belongs in a horror movie, yet he makes a unique and frightening opponent for the Dark Knight. Could he work as a foe in 'DKR'? It would require a lot of tweaking, but I'd say enthusiastically, yes.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

No Ledger for 'DKR'

After the rumor circled the web like a hurled Batarang, it appears Christopher Nolan's wife and producing partner, Emma Thomas, has put the kibosh on whether a Heath Ledger Joker would appear in 'Dark Knight Rises.' According to ReelzChannel, Thomas said curtly:

"I heard the rumor. We're not doing that."

Nolan himself also denied the rumor. I suppose this is as well. Heath Ledger's Joker will forever remain as a special highlight of the great event that was 'The Dark Knight.' It would be nice to see Joker again, but if not Heath, then who?

There's probably only one actor with the gravitas who also kinda resembles Ledger, that could pull off the role. I'm talking about Harry Osborn, er, Mr. James Franco:

I've heard nothing but good things about Franco in his latest film '127 Hours.' While he has already had major roles in blockbuster films like 'Spider-Man,' Franco seems set for a major step up into critical and leading roles. He'd be perfect as a replacement for Joker. I don't necessarily see him fitting in as any other villain, however.

What do you think? James Franco as Joker?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Joker Cameo in 'Dark Knight Rises'?

Joker returns?
So says showbizspy:

“The idea is to use these fragments of cut scenes and use CGI to have The Joker appear one last time,” reveals a movie insider.

According to their sources, Nolan wants to maintain some continuity between 'TDK' and 'Rises' similar to how Scarecrow popped up for a cameo in the latest Batman film. Ledger's death hit Nolan especially hard, and he has said there is no additional footage of the Oscar winner portraying Gotham's Clowned Prince of Crime.

However, with some creative editing, it might be possible to make an "old" scene appear new. It could work, but only in a very limited sense. Perhaps we could see a psychiatrist interviewing the Joker in Arkham Asylum through the grainy black and white lens of a security cam. It would be brief, and might even use footage we've seen before but altered in some way to appear fresh. Or perhaps Nolan does have additional unseen footage of Ledger that could be worked into part of a new scene.

Whatever the case, I'm favorable towards seeing the Joker one last time in 'DKR,' even if it's only a glimpse. We are left, after all, with questions at the end of 'Dark Knight.' After Joker is captured, what becomes of him? Prison? Arkham Asylum? Or did the SWAT team do what had to be done? Seeing Joker ensconced in a "padded cell forever," as Batman says, would help bring closure to the character.