It’s certainly been an exciting couple of weeks to be a Batman fan. After years of rumors and speculation surrounding The Dark Knight Rises, we’ve finally been receiving some concrete information regarding Christopher Nolan’s third (and final) trip into Gotham City.

Fans have been locked in an alarmingly ardent debate about the recent casting of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and the news that Tom Hardy will be portraying Bane in the film. In addition to creating passionate and divisive opinions, these announcements have also nullified most of what we thought we knew about the film.

The consensus seemed to be that Hardy was likely going to play Hugo Strange and that the characters of Talia al Ghul & Vicki Vale would somehow factor into the story. While a Bane/Hugo Strange hybrid is certainly a possibility, it seems we can finally put the Talia rumors to rest – and if those weren’t true, Vicki Vale’s inclusion seems somewhat unlikely as well.

Another popular rumor claimed that Batman 3 would borrow certain elements from the graphic novel Batman: Prey and while there might still be some truth to that (there was certainly quite a bit taken from Year One in Batman Begins and hints of The Long Halloween in The Dark Knight), the abundance of misinformation that’s been floating around out there makes it a little difficult to put much stock in anything unless it comes directly from Nolan himself.

The fact is, no one knows what The Dark Knight Rises is actually about except those who’ve read the script. One of those lucky individuals is Nolan’s longtime cinematographer – Wally Pfister.

Pfister recently chatted with the Kevin & Josh Movie Show where he was confronted with the same question we’ve all been asking ourselves: how do you top The Dark Knight – one of the most successful and acclaimed comic book films of all time? Check out his suitably tantalizing response:

“I asked the same question. I read the script two weeks ago, and he’s done it. Plain and simple — he’s done it. It’s a phenomenal script. He’s still in the process of cutting it back because it’s a very long script right now, but it’s really phenomenal. And he actually had me go back and wanted me to watch, in IMAX, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight again. When I watched those I had read the script for The Dark Knight Rises and was like, ‘dude, it is a perfect trilogy.’ I think that was his intent, to work off those two pictures — and they are very different pictures. And it’s funny, we all had different opinions about which picture we like better.”

Wally Pfister and Christopher Nolan

Despite the fact that Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises are intended to form one complete story arc, Nolan is clearly not a filmmaker who’s content to repeat himself. I’m personally looking forward to a film that’s as different from his first two Batman movies as they are from each other. Audiences will certainly have much higher expectations than they did going into The Dark Knight, but it’s encouraging to hear that Pfister thinks there’s no question that the concluding chapter will also be the best.

He also spoke about how much of The Dark Knight Rises will be shot in IMAX and reveals that they’re still trying to figure out how they’re actually going to shoot the script’s ambitious action scenes:

“Our goal is to shoot as much in IMAX as we can. We’re going to put in on the screen, and put it on the screen big. And I really encourage everyone to see it in IMAX if they can because we’re really going for it this time. In terms of the action, we are all scratching our heads right now trying to figure out how we’re going to do it; how we’re going to do it in the amount of time we’re going to do it in. The opening scene of the movie will blow your mind.”

Did anyone else immediately start daydreaming about what that last sentence might mean? The bank robbery that opened The Dark Knight became one of the film’s defining moments (thanks in part to its appearance a full year before TDK‘s release), so coming up with a similarly engaging sequence is no small feat.

Depending on Nolan’s depiction of the Selina Kyle character, could we be treated to one of her elaborate heists? Or perhaps we’ll see Bane’s escape from prison? Come to think of it, it’s too bad we already saw the League of Shadows release the inmates of Arkham out into the streets of Gotham during the climax of Batman Begins because that’d be an interesting way to open the film as well.

Given the way The Dark Knight ends, I actually wouldn’t mind it if the opening moments of The Dark Knight Rises were firmly focused on Batman himself. Particularly if it involves the GCPD getting in the way of an act of goodwill and him having to deal with everything they can throw at him.

There’s still a long way to go before we know for sure what Nolan & co. have in store for us, but for now the possibilities are certainly intriguing.

The Dark Knight Rises is scheduled to hit theaters on July 20, 2012.

Source: Kevin & Josh Movie Show (via Nolan Fans)