News on The Dark Knight Rises has slowed down considerably since the flood of set photos and videos dried up after the production left the streets of Pittsburgh – but today we have some new updates to share about Chris Nolan’s end to the Batman trilogy.

Our roundup includes word from actor Nestor Carbonell (Lost), who fans will remember as the Mayor of Gotham city; we also look into some new rumors about the type of enhancements actor Tom Hardy (Warrior) might be using to inhabit the role of Bane

MTV recently caught up with Nestor Carbonell and solicited his impression of The Dark Knight Rises, and Carbonell let it be known that we are in for an epic finale to the trilogy – one that will exceed both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. He also took things a step further, claiming that – in the hands of Chris Nolan – TDKR is (once again) more than just a comic book movie:

“[Christopher Nolan] announced that this is sort of his last go at the Batman…If it is, indeed, the last Batman for him, he certainly goes out big. It’s massive. Just what I saw, the sets were unbelievable… It’s beautifully framed and beautifully shot. Half of it is in IMAX. Stunning stuff.”

“He’s one of these amazing storytellers in our generation, he’s one of the guys who’s taken [superhero] genre and grounded it and done something with it that hasn’t done before…He’s made it that much more real, much more accessible, and he’s made a psychological thriller out of all of them, so he’s great, he’s amazing.”

I don’t think anyone is expecting less than a truly epic finale to Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but admittedly, when the Pittsburgh set photos and videos began to leak out, it did seem like this final chapter was going to be more of  a go-for-broke action blockbuster – complete with huge set pieces and massive battle scenes. While I’m sure many Batman movie fans would be okay with that, Nolan’s previous installments have also managed to convey deeper themes and ideas; it’s good to see Carbonell making mention of the fact that The Dark Knight Rises will as well.

Of course, a grand and/or deep superhero movie needs a grand and/or deep villain at its center, and fans are certainly hoping that Tom Hardy is going to be able to make Bane just that, given the character’s rich history on the comic page. The last time Bane appeared on film (in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin back in 1997), what we got was a mindless brute villain sidekick. Bane definitely needs to have the brute aspect of his character kept intact (someone to present a physical threat to Batman), but the villain is also a very intelligent foe, who has managed to out-strategize the dark knight on occasion.

We still don’t know about Bane’s smarts in TDKR, but in terms of his physicality, we have some new rumors floating around which claim that Tom Hardy will be wearing some lifts to increase his height to the level of an imposing bad guy, as well as having some voice alteration, to give him a distinctive way of speaking.

It should be noted: this RUMOR originates from British Tabloid The Sun, so a large grain of salt should be taken while you mull it over:

Actor Tom Hardy has reportedly been wearing specially made shoes fitted with three-inch lifts on the set of the latest Batman film The Dark Knightmag glass 10x10 Nestor Carbonell Talks Dark Knight Rises; New Bane Rumors Surface Rises. Hardy, who is 5ft 9in, has been wearing them so he can be the same size as co-stars Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale.

According to British newspaper The Sun, the movie’s producers wanted his character, Bane, to be around the same height as Batman and Morgan’s Lucius Fox, who are both over 6ft.

The 33-year-old has also allegedly been wearing a voice box which controls the pitch of his speech. But he’s been the victim of on-set pranks as the sound effects team have been amusing themselves by speeding up the frequency.

On the one hand, some fans have been critical of the Bane’s costume and look, while others have approved of Nolan’s interpretation  (while still expressing concern about Hardy’s physical attributes). On the issue of voice alteration: we can understand giving Bane a voice more fitting for his masked face; however, at the moment most Batman movie fans have a negative impression of the technique, after hearing Christian Bale’s oft-mocked “Batman voice” from The Dark Knight – which was also the result of voice alteration.

We’ll find out what kind of villain and grand finale we’re in for, when The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters on July 20, 2012.

Sources: MTV & The Sun (via Comic Book Movie)