Last month we learned Bronson and Inception star Tom Hardy was starring in The Dark Knight Rises, the third film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. While most of us Bat fans were ecstatic to hear that Hardy had joined the cast, we were also left wondering (and speculating) about who the actor would play.

Now Batman News is reporting a rumor (taken from a source who has proven to be reliable) that Hardy is actually playing the villain known as Hugo Strange. While fanboys know all about Strange, the average moviegoer may be wondering just who this character is. Thankfully, you have us here at Screen Rant to explain it.

Hugo Strange has had a long and, well, strange history in the Batman comic books. He was one of Batman’s first recurring villains (as far back as 1940), preceding more famous bat-foes like Catwoman or The Joker. Strange has appeared, been killed off, and since reappeared many times in the subsequent decades of Batman comics; his backstory has also undergone several revisions. For the purposes of discussing Hardy’s possible role in The Dark Knight Rises, we’ll stick to the stories of Hugo Strange most likely to fit in Chris Nolan’s Batman movie universe.

The version of Strange you’re most likely to see onscreen is the one where the character is a prominent (or celebrity) psychologist with mob ties. In the famous Batman storyline “Prey”, Hugo Strange is tapped by the Gotham P.D. to work up a profile on the Batman, in order to help the police catch the vigilante. Strange is said to have been raised in “Hell’s Crucible,” a tough Gotham neighborhood not far from “Crime Alley,” that infamous site where Bruce Wayne’s parents were murdered. While brilliant, Strange is also violent and unstable – in one version of his origin he was suspended from his tenure at Gotham State University for conducting bizarre experiments that transformed people into mindless, destructive (and deformed) brutes.

Strange becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering who Batman is, and eventually with actually becoming Batman himself (which he eventually does, doing some terrible things in Batman’s name). The twisted villain eventually deduces through his psyche examinations that Bruce Wayne is likely Batman, and uses that knowledge to turn the police against the vigilante and lure Batman to his doom.

In another famous Batman storyline, “Terror”, Hugo Strange teams with The Scarecrow, using their mix of psychotropic drugs (basically fear and rage) to wreak havoc. In more recent storylines, Strange has been written as a doctor doing psyche evaluations at Wayne Enterprises (where he discovers the Batman/Wayne connection), and a villain possibly connected to the drug “Venom,” which fanboys know as the serum which powers the ruthless crime boss known as Bane.

From those small splinters of the Hugo Strange chronicles, I’m sure that hardcore and casual Batman fans alike can easily see why having this particular villain featured in The Dark Knight Rises would be good move for Nolan and Co. Hugo Strange is a time-tested Batman villain, and his various story archs have the added bonus of tying up a lot of the story that has been put forth by both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight – a goal we already know Nolan has firmly planted in mind.

We also know that Chris and Jonathan Nolan, along with screenwriter David Goyer, have already established a trend of borrowing elements of famous Batman stories for their movies. I personally expect that trend to continue with The Dark Knight Rises, and as you can read above, a lot of the most fitting story archs for this third Batman film fall squarely under the Hugo Strange banner.

Finally, Hardy seems like a perfect choice to play a character like Hugo Strange – a villain who has to be convincing as a brilliant but crazy doctor, and may even have to throw on a Batman costume and do some damage. If you’ve seen Hardy’s work in Bronson and Inception, you know that he has the necessary talent to convey equal parts charm and menace, and that he is also capable of handling some awesome action sequences. I would love to see him and Christian Bale throw down in their respective Batman outfits.

Bottom line: Using Hugo Strange as the villain would be a refreshing and original approach to a Batman film, and would offer loads of opportunity in terms of the direction this third Batman movie takes. It would even be great to see Bane as a possible secondary villain (created by Strange) or even have Cillian Murphy back one last time as the Scarecrow for a three-for-three run in Nolan’s Batman universe.

I for one am now totally rooting for Hardy to play Hugo Strange – how about you guys?

The Dark Knight Rises will be in theaters (IMAX and regular) on July 20, 2012.

Source: Batman News