Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his extremely popular (and critically-acclaimed) Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, has been in the news so much over the past year alone that it’s kind of shocking to hear it’s only just begun production.

Principal photography has indeed commenced on Nolan’s much-anticipated comic book project, which has prompted speculation to no end about who the villains are, what the plot encompasses, and how exactly Dark Knight Rises could possibly be even bigger and better than The Dark Knight.

Today, we’ve put together a handy report on everything we know for sure about Batman 3 and what rumors are still circling the project.

SIDE NOTE: Click on any of the links in the list of info below to learn more about that particular subject.

Shooting Locations

Here is what we know for certain about where Nolan and his crew will be shooting Dark Knight Rises:

  • Chicago won’t be “playing” Gotham this time around – Pittsburgh is taking its place.
  • London and the Indian city of Jodphur will be used in the film as well. How they will be used is unknown.
  • Amateur photos taken from the film’s India production have already kicked off heavy speculation about whether the mystical Lazarus Pit will factor into the plot.

Returning Cast Members

Next we will discuss who exactly will be appearing in Dark Knight Rises:

  • Franchise veterans Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman are all returning to reprise their respective roles from Nolan’s previous Batman films.
  • The only other returning actor is Nestor Carbonell, who will reprise his Dark Knight role as the Mayor of Gotham city.

New Cast Members

Things really start to get interesting when you look at the new cast members who have been added to The Dark Knight Rises:

  • Tom Hardy will play the villain Bane.
  • Anne Hathaway is playing Catwoman (though how good or bad she’ll be is not yet known).
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt is playing Detective John Blake – a new character created for Nolan’s film.
  • Marion Cotillard is playing Miranda Tate – though her character may have a secret identity which would tie Batman 3 to both The Dark Knight AND Batman Begins.

Dark Knight Rises Plot Rumors

Several rumors (none of them confirmed yet) have popped up over the months about certain aspects of the Dark Knight Rises‘ storyline, including:

This is all we know for certain at this point in time, though in the coming months more information will surely be revealed. We’ll update this post as needed, all while keeping you updated about the latest developments ;-).

In the end, all will at last be revealed when The Dark Knight Rises in theaters on July 20th, 2012.

Source: Warner Bros.