Christopher Nolan, the director of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, has a film coming out in about a month entitled Inception, which promises to be a mighty interesting sort of mind-bender. You’d think that his star, Leonardo DiCaprio, would be getting all the buzz about being in the third chapter of the Batman series, but the rumor now is that Inception co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is on the short list to play The Riddler instead, a role that has been memorably filled by both Frank Gorshin and Jim Carrey in the past. Reps have denied it so far, but that’s likely because the screenplay for the film isn’t even finished yet, so there’s definitely no thought to casting.
We all know that the original plan was to have the Joker return as a perennial nemesis for the Caped Crusader, but the Heath Ledger tragedy derailed those plans, and Nolan has confirmed that he has no intention of trying to recast that role, which is truly wise of him. There’s no way anyone else could step into those clown shoes and not be torn to shreds about trying to recreate the Oscar-winning performance. If Nolan does go the Riddler route, the challenge will be in how to create a theatrical villain who toys with the protagonists in a malevolently playful way without drawing unfavorable comparisons to “the Clown Prince of Crime.” Gordon-Levitt is a fantastic actor, and the Riddler is definitely a different character than the Joker – he’s not nearly that loopy, nor is he truly murderous or psychotic at all. He’s a lot more measured and coy about having his puzzles solved, and he’s not really that deadly, which could lead us to believe there may be more than one villain at play. Then again, there’s no telling how Nolan and crew might revamp the man with the question-mark motif who isn’t Matthew Lesko.
Truth be told, the franchise really seems like it should go in a different direction entirely and bring in Catwoman and some strong female presences now that Rachel Dawes, the only woman in the films, has been killed off. If they want to pay homage to the Ledger’s legacy, a great choice would be to cast someone as Harley Quinn, a demented ex-psychiatrist who is inspired by the Joker to become a clown-themed criminal herself. She’s closely associated with another notable female villain known as Poison Ivy (and we can just pretend we never saw Batman & Robin). Just to throw some casting suggestions out there: Jessica Biel as Catwoman, Katee Sackhoff as Harley and Christina Hendricks as Ivy. Think about it.