Well, here we are again, in the middle of Bat-mania.
The Dark Knight continues to generate hysteria. And since we're now on the downside of that hype, the rumors have turned to who will play the villain in the third installment of Christopher Nolan's Bat-Mythos.
(If you're just returning from Afghanistan or something and are among the deprived few who haven't seen the Dark Knight yet, there will be spoilers here, so watch out!)
The most prevalent of these rumors is that the Riddler will be the next villain. These rumors began even before this movie opened. Those rumors centered on Anthony Michael Hall playng the riddle. Hall, best known for being the red-haired dweeb in all those 80's John Hughes movies, has turned into a respectable character actor and appears in The Dark Knight as a TV reporter named Michael "Mike" Engel. This is the same reporter we last see captured by the Joker and displayed on video delivering the Joker's message to Gotham City.
This sets up a believable Riddler for the next movie. The Nolan Bat-Mythos strive for a certain believability about these fantastic characters. The Riddler is obessesed with all kinds of riddles, enigmas, and mysteries. A TV reporter obsessed with the true identity of the Batman might make a good set-up for the Riddler.
However, the latest rumors have the Riddler role being battled over by Phillip Seymour Hoffman or Johnny Depp. Okay, I can see Johnny Depp as somebody's Riddler, but not Chris Nolan's Riddler. And once Hoffman got mentioned, somebody suggested he'd be better as the Penguin, and again, I don't really see the Penguin fitting into this storyline.
Perhaps the wildest rumor is the Maggie Gyllenhaal's character, Rachel Dawes (SPOILER!) did not die in the explosion. Instead, Rachel survives and becomes Catwoman. I sure hope that's not the case. A move like that would "jump the shark," or is the new term, "Nuke the Fridge?" When Dawes died, it gave the whole movie a sense of urgency. Bringing her back would not feel right, or treat the audience with respect. On the other hand, Dawes death creates a vaccum in the story for Catwoman to have a purpose. Right now, Bruce Wayne is lonely and vulnerable emotionally. It's a perfect time for a sexy kleptomaniac who's also a little crazy -- but far from evil -- to cross his path.
But rumors like these are like so much smoke: insubstantial.