We’ve spent a lot of time here at Screen Rant dissecting the characters of The Dark Knight Rises. A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time wondering how Bane might figure into Nolan’s final Batman film, and just this week, Screen Rant Senior Editor Kofi Outlaw explored how Selina Kyle/Catwoman might play into the movie.

Without patting myself on the back too much, I thought that we both did a pretty good job. Of course, that was before Christopher Nolan decided to throw a monkey wrench into our casting speculation with the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was joining Batman 3.

Within minutes of the announcement that Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be involved in the movie, fans began debating over what character he might play. Somewhat predictably, the two most popular guesses were that JGL was playing the Riddler or that he was taking over Heath Ledger’s role as the Joker. I don’t think either of those will turn out to be right, but more on that later.

In this article, we take a look at all of the possible characters that Gordon-Levitt could play in The Dark Knight Rises, and offer our opinion as to which character is most likely. Read on for our picks, arranged from least likely to most likely.

The Joker

As I mentioned before, as soon as the Gordon-Levitt story broke, many people immediately assumed that the young actor would play the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s final film, reprising the role that won Heath Ledger a posthumous Academy Award.

I won’t go on the record to guarantee that this won’t happen, because you never know for sure, but let me say that I would be extremely surprised if it did. The fact of the matter is that Ledger’s performance was a one-of-a-kind and anybody taking over the role, even the exceptionally talented Gordon-Levitt, would be held to an unfair standard.

Plus, Christopher Nolan already said back in June of last year that The Joker wouldn’t appear in the film. While I acknowledge that Nolan is something of a trickster when it comes to casting, I’m holding him at his word here. Sorry Joker fans, but I wouldn’t bet on seeing the Crown Prince of Crime on the big screen again anytime soon.

The Riddler

Back before we found out that Bane would be the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, many fans were hoping that the Riddler would show up in the final Batman film. Now, with the announcement of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s involvement in the film, suddenly those hopes have been reignited. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

While the Riddler is definitely a great villain, fitting him into The Dark Knight Rises in a way that enhances the plot and doesn’t diminish the importance of the character in the Batman mythology would be immensely difficult. We’ve seen what happens when comic book movies squeeze too many characters into the story (X-Men 3) and I doubt Christopher Nolan would let that happen.

If the Riddler were in the film, he would be the primary antagonist. Since that role belongs to Tom Hardy as Bane, I don’t think Batman will be spending too much time deciphering riddles in The Dark Knight Rises.

Hush/Black Mask

We’re getting closer, but still no cigar. Black Mask and Hush are both great villains, and they definitely would work in the more realistic world of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, but the same problem we had with the Riddler comes up again here.

Unless they were just crime bosses competing with Bane for control of Gotham, Black Mask and Hush would be too complex to fit into the narrative that Nolan has established going into The Dark Knight Rises. Like the Riddler, Black Mask or Hush would be great primary antagonists. Relegating them to second-string status seems like a mistake, and a misuse of quality characters.

Of all the famous villains Gordon-Levitt could play, either of these guys is probably the most likely, but I still think it’s a stretch.

Continue to other roles JGL could play…


Young Harvey Bullock

A handful of Screen Rant commenters mentioned having Joseph Gordon-Levitt play a young Harvey Bullock as a possibility, and I have to admit, I thought it was a pretty intriguing idea. For those unfamiliar with Bullock, he’s most frequently depicted as a slovenly, borderline corrupt cop who, despite his attitude problems, is loyal to Commissioner Gordon. He also hates Batman (or at least is annoyed by him) for constantly showing up the police.

At the end of The Dark Knight, Batman is on the run from the police. Even though Gordon is secretly working with him, the rest of the police are itching to get a hold of him because he’s allegedly responsible for killing some of their fellow officers. Bringing a young Harvey Bullock into the film would be interesting because it introduces a possible plot scenario where Gordon puts Bullock in charge of a task force to hunt down Batman (counting on Bullock’s shoddy police work to derail the investigation).

Here’s why it doesn’t work for me: because it’s HARVEY BULLOCK! The Harvey that comic book readers know and love is an oafish slob. Even as a young man, I can’t see him being played by the suave Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It’s a fun idea, but there’s probably nothing to it.

Dick Grayson/Nightwing

There seems to be a split opinion on whether or not Robin would work in the gritty realistic world of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. In my opinion, bringing in Robin would be a mistake. I love the character, but it’s kind of hard to imagine Christian Bale taking on a young ward while he’s also trying to fight off a Venom-pumped Bane. Of course, just because you can’t have Robin doesn’t mean you can’t have Dick Grayson – or his alter-ego, Nightwing.

If you don’t know anything about Nightwing, here’s a little primer: Growing up, Dick Grayson was Robin, the spry sidekick to Bruce Wayne’s Batman. As he got older, however, he wanted to step out from under Batman’s shadow and become his own superhero. Grayson moved to Bludhaven, another fictional city in the DC universe, where he took up residence as Nightwing. In the current comics, Dick Grayson has given up the guise of Nightwing to take over as Batman after the death of Bruce Wayne.

Using Dick Grayson/Nightwing in the Nolan universe works if (and this is a big IF) Nolan decides to have Batman die or retire at the end of the movie. Nightwing could, presumably, take up the cowl and continue fighting crime in the city so that the Batman symbol lives on.

Personally, while I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt could make a good Nightwing, I don’t think that using the character in The Dark Knight Rises is a good decision. Dick Grayson has too much baggage to simply drop into the movie without addressing his background as Robin. Plus, it would rely on the aforementioned Batman dies/retires angle, and I really don’t think they’re going there. Of course, I could be wrong (and some people seem to think that’s where the story is headed).

Sgt. Max Cort / Night Scourge

When Tom Hardy first became attached to Batman 3, the early speculation was that he would play maniacal psychologist Hugo Strange and that Dark Knight Rises would be based on “Batman: Prey” another storyline from the “Year One” continuity. One character that factored prominently in “Prey” was Sgt. Max Cort, a cop put in charge of a special task force geared at capturing Batman. Hugo Strange eventually manipulates Cort through hypnosis into becoming a vigilante named Night Scourge – who is willing to kill criminals without mercy to prove he is better than Batman. This of course implicates Batman as a killer, and forces The Dark Knight to confront “Night Scourge”; with the help of Catwoman (red flag!) he is able to defeat the rogue vigilante.

Scourge is then coerced into dressing like Batman and committing evil acts in his name – including kidnapping the mayor’s daughter. After Batman defeats Strange, he still must deal with Night Scourge, and again with some help from Catwoman and Commissioner Gordon, is able to best his dark counterpart. Cort ultimately dies at the guns of his fellow police officers, after trying to shoot Gordon.

I already addressed in my post on Bane that Chris Nolan could potentially mix elements of Hugo Strange in with his version of Bane, and that Dark Knight Rises could still follow the “Batman: Prey” storyline. If that is the case, then having Sgt. Max Cort would be a logical inclusion – and a role that JGL could definitely play.

A Brand New Character

Not every character in Christopher Nolan’s previous Batman films has come from the comics – most notably Rachel Dawes. Considering that Nolan isn’t afraid to bring in entirely new characters, it’s likely that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play somebody whom we’ve never seen or heard of before.

Imagine a new business rival for Bruce Wayne, somebody trying to take over Wayne Enterprises as Bruce struggles to deal with his dual identity – or perhaps another Gotham socialite, maybe even a boyfriend for Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle.

Another possibility, and one that I’ve seen from Kevin Coll at Fused Film, is that Gordon-Levitt might play some kind of reporter or Gotham blogger focused on unmasking Batman. If the plot of The Dark Knight Rises rests heavily on revealing Batman’s identity, a character like that could become a pawn for Bane or the police department.

Looking at the blogger angle differently, perhaps Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play some kind of citizen advocate for Batman. The Dark Knight briefly showed how some Gotham citizens put on costumes and fought crime with Batman as their inspiration. Maybe Gordon-Levitt’s character will capitalize on that theme, being the person that finally convinces Gotham to rally around Batman once again (giving some weight to the “rises” part of the movie’s title).

The more time I spent thinking about Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises, the more convinced I was that he would be a new character. I especially liked the business rival/socialite angle. That was until I read a very inspired post by Danny Graydon, which led to my new favorite choice:

Alberto Falcone

Alberto Falcone is the son of crime boss Carmine Falcone, whom you’ll recall we last saw in Batman Begins as a raving maniac thanks to the Scarecrow’s fear toxin. Alberto Falcone was first introduced in Jeph Loeb’s excellent 1996 series “The Long Halloween”, where his pathological jealousy to be involved in the family business leads him to kill most of Gotham’s other crime bosses as the Holiday Killer.

In Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe, it’s doubtful that Falcone would play a serial killer, but it’s entirely plausible that he would show up to take over his father’s criminal empire. And here’s where things get really interesting.

As Kofi Outlaw mentioned in his excellent analysis of Catwoman, one iteration of Catwoman’s character in the Batman comic books is that she is the illegitimate daughter of Carmine Falcone. That particular iteration was seen in…”The Long Halloween”! (Do you see what I’m getting at here?)

Let’s say Gordon-Levitt plays Alberto Falcone. He shows up in Gotham to take over his father’s criminal empire, but every time he tries to make a move a mysterious thief rips him off. That same mysterious thief uses the money she steals to reinvent herself as a sexy Gotham socialite, Selina Kyle, who becomes involved with Bruce Wayne.

Alberto, tired of getting jacked, makes a deal with a mysterious, but powerful new crime boss named Bane. Together, they conspire to kill Catwoman. (At some point Bane probably backstabs Alberto and takes over his gang, asserting himself as the crime kingpin in Gotham.) Eventually, Bruce figures out Selina Kyle’s true identity, and must act to save her lest he lose another loved one to violent crime.

Not only does that sound like a plausible scenario, it sounds downright exciting. Plus, it ties in loose ends from the original film, and it pays homage to one of the best story arcs in Batman history. I still don’t think it’s as likely as Gordon-Levitt playing an entirely new character, but Alberto Falcone is definitely my favorite possibility.

Anyway, those are our thoughts. Now that you’ve heard our list of possibilities, what do you think? If there’s a character you think we missed, share your thoughts in the comments.

The Dark Knight Rises in theaters on July 20, 2012.

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