Just yesterday, we learned from Gary Oldman that The Dark Knight Rises would somehow tie back to the first film in Christopher Nolan's trilogy - Batman Begins. This corresponded with previous statements made by Nolan which indicated that he was interested in somehow bringing closure to Bruce Wayne's story arc within the trilogy.
Oldman's comments also gave more weight to recent rumors that The Dark Knight Rises may feature Talia al Ghul and the return of the League of Shadows. Although those same rumors explained how Bane and Catwoman could factor into the proceedings, it turns out a major plot point may have been left out...
Earlier today, Oldman was talking Batman once again - this time at the premiere of Red Riding Hood. "If I told you who the villain was, they'd kill me," said the actor cautiously when pressed for details by E!.
Now, I know what you're thinking - Oldman simply doesn't realize that the villains have already been announced and that at this point it's common knowledge. Except that he followed up by saying:
"I think it's a villain from one of the old, old, from way back from the old comics ... It is a Batman villian... It's not going to be the Joker."
Looking back at the library of Batman comics, Bane was created by Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench and Graham Nolan in 1993 - that's hardly "way back." Catwoman did make her first appearance in Batman #1 in 1940. However, Oldman goes on to say that Anne Hathaway "will probably wear the cat suit pretty well" - so it's unlikely he'd tease the identity of this villain only to reveal it a few moments later. And that's pretty common knowledge anyway.
I suppose it's possible that Oldman isn't particularly well-versed in Batman's mythology and he doesn't know that Bane is a fairly recent addition to the Caped Crusader's rogues gallery - but if he knows that Catwoman's role has been revealed, then he must also know that Bane is no secret either.
So who is this mysterious classic character he's referring to? Will The Dark Knight Rises feature a third major villain that Nolan and Co. have thus far kept us in the dark about?
If that's the case, what vintage Batman adversary fits the bill? I think many will venture a guess that Hugo Strange will be featured in some capacity, despite debunked rumors to the contrary. Still - when The Dark Knight was in the earliest stages of development, wasn't there a fair bit of misdirection regarding whether or not Harvey Dent would actually become Two-Face in the film? If they're trying to keep a secret, denials are pretty much par for the course.
There's also the matter of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's unspecified role in the film. If they're staying even remotely true to the comics, my feeling is that he's a little bit too young for Strange. In terms of classic villains, Levitt seems like a better match for The Riddler, but I really think Nolan was being serious when he insisted he wouldn't appear in The Dark Knight Rises.
Many fans are convinced that Levitt will be portraying Alberto Falcone - which would be another way to help bring this saga full circle. Falcone's first appearance was in 1996, though - making him an even newer character than Bane. If they really wanted to revisit territory explored in Batman Begins, there's always a chance that Ra's al Ghul could return. But if that's the case, no one's told Liam Neeson yet.
The notion that Bane could be a supporting player in The Dark Knight Rises and the real villain has yet to be revealed is certainly an intriguing one. However, this is also starting to feel like a very crowded roster. We'll keep you updated on how this develops.
Let the speculation begin...
The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters on July 20, 2012.