Batman Begins 3 Rumors: Depp as Riddler, Jolie as Catwoman, Hoffman as Penguin

Okay, so by now you may or may not have been reading or hearing about all the rumors surrounding the casting for an inevitable third installment in the “Batman Begins” (reboot) franchise. Let’s face it, with “The Dark Knight” raking in the bucks in the States and overseas like Rosie O’Donnell in an all-you-can-eat buffet, Warner Bros. is already trying to figure out how much money it’ll take to get Nolan back in the director’s chair for a third outing. With Nolan probably secured as director, the question turns to the casting: Bale will be back as Batman, but who will he be facing? The names that have been floating around the Internet for the last week and change has Johnny Depp as the Riddler, Angelina Jolie as Catwoman, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.

But wait, didn’t writer David Goyer (who wrote both “Batman Begins” films) already told us that they were moving away from Batman’s familiar Rogues Gallery, and will be dipping into other characters that have yet to see the cinematic light? This would seem to put the kibosh on Catwoman, Riddler, and Penguin. And truth be told, wouldn’t we rather see a villain that hasn’t already been done before? Why keep going back to the same-o, same-o?

So let’s look at where all the “Batman Begins 3” casting rumors are coming from.

The Angelina Jolie as Catwoman rumor seems to have sprung from one source: Julie Newmar, who played Catwoman on the Batman TV show, via NYDailyNews:

Julie Newmar, Hollywood’s most iconic “Catwoman,” thinks Angelina Jolie is the right choice to slip into her skintight costume – once the steamy actress is back in fighting form.

“Angelina would own the part,” said Newmar.

“My industry friends tell me [she] has made inquiries about the role,” added the 74-year-old actress, who played Catwoman in the original “Batman” TV series starring Adam West.

“I can understand how it would pique her interest. Catwoman is Batman’s one true love,” noted Newmar. “She’s tremendously popular with women because she’s both a heroine and a villainess.

“When you look at the staggering box office of this current film, which actress wouldn’t want to jump in?”

Jolie as Catwoman? It seems like a match made in Heaven, doesn’t it? And it’s not like skin-tight black leather is anything new to Jolie. Then again, Christopher Nolan may not want someone that famous to overshadow his leading man and his story. Nolan seems like the type of chap who isn’t easily swayed by a famous name; I get the feeling he’s all about the story, and what actor would service the characters and said story. And at this point, Nolan probably has final say on the casting, and just about everything else about part 3.

Up next, the Johnny Depp as Riddler rumor. Another major casting coup, but I have the same problems with it as I do the Jolie as Catwoman rumor — Depp is too big of a name, and his casting may overshadow the story. And we all saw what happened when Jim Carrey was thrusting his package at us the last time he was in the Bat universe.

The Telegraph newspaper in the UK has more on this particular rumor, citing “studio bosses” as trying to get Depp to join up:

Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker has set the bar high for Gotham City villains, but reports in the US say studio bosses have set their sights on Depp as The Riddler and Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.

“Producers are convinced that the role of The Riddler is perfect for Depp. Johnny’s a pro. He’ll be able to take direction and still make the character his own. And what better Penguin is there than Philip Seymour Hoffman?” a source said.

They also reiterate the Jolie as Catwoman and Hoffman as Penguin rumors. The original source of the casting rumor seems to have originated from the news aggregation site WENN via something called Enquirer, according to MovieWeb. Again, more tabloid rumors than actual “sourced” fact, it would appear.

Meanwhile, the Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Penguin rumor. Now this I could buy. Hoffman is an excellent actor, and would definitely be a plus to a movie like “Batman Begins 3”, where he could do the same kind of gritty, down and dirty work that Heath Ledger was able to do. Both actors are famous, but just not famous enough to not have the whole movie be about Heath Ledger the famous A-list actor playing a role. Hoffman would bring the same kind of acting skills and low-key media attention. I could see Nolan going with him.

But of course, all of this is pure speculation on everyone’s part, especially the Jolie rumor, which seems to have originated entirely from an offhand comment by Julie Newmar. Nolan seems determined to cast good actors who benefits the film’s story, and not superstars who overshadows it, and Jolie’s presence on the set would definitely do that. Likewise with Depp as the Riddler.

Another strike against Depp as the Riddler is that, well, the Riddler has never been an altogether great villain in my opinion, and was always more gimmick than menace. Could Nolan turn a rhyming douche bag like the Riddler into a fearsome villain? Maybe, but why, when there are so many other villains in Batman’s Rogues Gallery that have yet to be tapped?

I say choose a second-tier Batman villain (but just one!) and really give him a shot. It’ll ensure that “Batman Begins 3” avoids the same pitfalls that have befallen so many third installments of comic book franchises. “Spider-Man 3”, anyone?

Batman Rogues Gallery