Do Latest <i>Dark Knight</i> Rumors Point To Clayface As The Villain?

The ceaseless casting rumors swirling around The Dark Knight Rises have swept up Charlize Theron, Kacie Thomas and Vera Farmiga as potential love interests for Bruce Wayne and James Gordon. And one of those roles could hold a clue to the identity of the villain in Christopher Nolan's highly anticipated sequel.

Citing an anonymous talent agency as its source, Comic Book Movie reports that the Academy Award-winning Theron has been approached to play Sarah Essen, the police detective with whom Gordon had an affair in 1987's Batman: Year One. She and Gordon later married, and Sarah briefly served as police commissioner after his firing. She was murdered by the Joker in 2000's "No Man's Land" story arc.

Thomas (The Burning Plain) and Farmiga (Up in the Air), two very different actresses, are reportedly being considered for the part of socialite Julie Madison, who was engaged to Bruce Wayne very early in Batman's Detective Comics run.

Here's the possible villain link: Madison, who debuted in September 1939's Detective Comics #31, was an actress targeted by the deranged actor Basil Karlo -- he's better known as the original Clayface -- who went on a murder spree after he was rejected for the lead in a remake of his classic horror movie The Terror.

That, of course, may be a leap. If the casting rumors are true, Nolan simply may want to pluck a love interest from Batman's distant past. But, the Basil Karlo version of Clayface -- a serial killer who only later in the comics gains superhuman abilities -- would certainly fit into the Gotham City that the director has created.

Unconnected to these latest rumors, Entertainment Weekly's Jeff Jensen makes a case for a malleable Clayface (and a handful of other characters) as the big bad of The Dark Knight Rises: "If The Dark Knight Rises is all about identity crisis, and if we agree that Batman needs a traditional, criminal villain, Clayface tops my list of choices. And I can see any number of ways this crumbly chameleon could wreak havoc on Gotham on a Joker-esque scale — especially if he’s impersonating public officials or even Bruce Wayne himself. If Nolan goes this route, expect some modifications that downplay his apparent supernatural/sci-fi aspect; I suspect his baseline form will look less like a pile of mud and more like … Tom Hardy? The Inception actor has reportedly already been cast in the movie, role TBD. After all, it was Hardy who played the shape-shifting member of Leonardo DiCaprio’s team of dream thieves in Nolan’s summertime smash."

It's a solid argument, even if I'm not convinced that Nolan will go for a villain with shape-shifting superpowers. I'm still holding out for Hardy as the Penguin, but I'm sure I'll be disappointed.

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