Tom HardyIt seems as though we at Moviefone aren't the only ones who think that Tom Hardy is ready to take over the world. Following yesterday's news that the talented British star would be reteaming with his 'Inception' director Christopher Nolan for the hotly anticipated 'Batman' threequel, the Internet came alive with speculation and enthusiasm as to who Hardy might portray in next installment of the blockbuster franchise.

Details of Hardy's character are being kept closely under wraps at this point; the only thing we know for sure is that he's scored a "lead role" -- and since the only leading roles in 'Batman' films are generally reserved for the Caped Crusader and his antagonist(s), it seems natural to assume that Hardy will appear as Christian Bale's newest nemesis when 'Batman 3' opens in 2012.

Since the character of Batman has been around for over 70 years, he's amassed a sizable Rogues Gallery of villains, many of whom we think the versatile Hardy would be capable of playing. Join us after the jump for the top six Bat-foes we think Hardy could tackle.


The RiddlerThe Riddler
Moviegoers' memories are probably long enough to recall Jim Carrey's manic, carrot-topped portrayal of Edward Nigma in 1995's 'Batman Forever,' and no amount of mental bleach is going to erase that image from our minds. Still, the Riddler is one of Batman's most recognizable enemies, known for his genius-level IQ, creative crimes and rampant narcissism. While we don't see Nolan breaking out the skintight green Spandex, Nigma's other trademark costume is a simple green suit and bowler hat, which seems a far more likely route for Nolan's more grounded franchise. Hardy could bring an air of sophistication and menace to the unpredictable role, playing up the Riddler's ego and neuroses.

Likelihood:
Extremely likely. During an interview to promote 'The Dark Knight,' star Gary Oldman implied that Nolan wouldn't need to recast Heath Ledger's iconic Joker role because "we'll have the Riddler" as an equally impressive villain. Online marketing for 'The Dark Knight' also gave a nod to the character, mentioning one of Nigma's aliases in an online edition of The Gotham Times.
Black MaskBlack Mask
Since Nolan's 'Batman' universe has included many ties to Gotham's mob scene, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to see him tackle one of the comics' most nefarious crime lords, Black Mask (AKA Roman Sionis). The character's origins see the Sionis family moving in the same society circles as the Waynes, which would allow for some undoubtedly electric scenes between Bale and Hardy out of costume.

Likelihood:
Unlikely. As a kingpin of crime, any use of Black Mask would position him as a puppetmaster, with henchmen to do his dirty work for him. If Hardy holds a lead role, we're betting on someone more spectacular than a mobster, especially since audiences may now be bored with seeing the machinations of Gotham's corrupt political scene following the flair of the Joker in 'Dark Knight'.
HushHush
A fairly new villain to the Batverse, Hush (AKA Dr. Thomas Elliot) was introduced in the comics in 2002's popular 'Hush' arc as a former childhood friend of Bruce Wayne's who plotted to kill his abusive parents and inherit the family's wealth by orchestrating a fatal car accident. After Bruce's father saved Elliot's mother following the crash, Elliot became irrationally resentful of the Wayne family and Bruce's continued life of wealth and success. Similar to Black Mask, Hush-as-Elliot could be involved in Bruce Wayne's social life, providing a very personal antagonist for our hero as he attempts to dismantle Batman's world.

Likelihood:
Fair. In the comics, Hush enlisted the help of almost every major Batman enemy in an effort to destroy Bruce Wayne both in costume and out of it, which would necessitate a streamlining of the character -- but if 'Batman 3' is to be the end of Nolan's series, the villain would prove a good justification to cameo previous characters such as Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow. Hardy certainly has the charisma to portray Dr. Elliot as he returns to wreak havoc on Bruce's personal life, and the physicality to battle him after the reveal.
BaneBane
Another victim of Joel Schumacher Syndrome after the critically derided 'Batman and Robin,' Bane is most familiar to audiences as Poison Ivy's giant, grunting henchman and nothing more. But in the comics, Bane was one of Batman's greatest adversaries, a physically and mentally imposing convict who becomes obsessed with defeating the Dark Knight after hearing tales of Batman's strength during his time in prison. In the comics, Bane masterminds a scheme to "break" Batman in both body and mind, which he eventually does (literally) by breaking Batman's spine and leaving him paraplegic. Hardy is no stranger to playing beefed up criminals, having gained attention for his portrayal of Britain's most violent convict in 'Bronson' -- so in many ways, Bane seems like an ideal choice.

Likelihood:
Sadly unlikely. After the trainwreck that was 'Batman and Robin,' Nolan probably doesn't want to touch the character with a 10-foot pole, and although Nolan has previously stated that he wants a definitive wrap-up for the series in 'Batman 3,' ending the trilogy with Bruce Wayne wheelchair-bound would be kind of a downer.
Mr. ZsaszVictor Zsasz
Perhaps one of Batman's creepiest foes, Victor Zsasz is one of the comics' most realistic bad guys, a straight up sociopathic serial killer who carves a mark on his own skin for every life he takes. His weapon of choice is a simple knife, and he is motivated by the desire to "liberate" his victims from their futile existences, since he considers all life to be meaningless. Physically, Zsasz is wiry but athletic, able to hold his own against Batman for brief fights. Since Hardy is the master of morphing his body for roles, we can see him shedding some muscle for a leaner, meaner version of the murderer, similar to his 'Stuart: A Life Backwards' physique.

Likelihood:
Fairly unlikely. The Joker cornered the market on knife-happy psychopaths in 'The Dark Knight,' and although Zsasz is an undoubtedly sinister foe, we'd imagine that Nolan has bigger fish to fry than your run-of-the-mill serial killer in the climax to his trilogy. (The character did have a cameo in 'Batman Begins' as one of Carmine Falcone's hired hands, though.)
Killer CrocKiller Croc
Initially introduced as a criminal with aspirations of underworld domination in the comics, subsequent iterations of Killer Croc have reduced the character to either a bestial psychopath or a somewhat sympathetic character searching for a cure to the genetic condition that has hardened his skin and lent him a reptilian appearance.

Likelihood:
Extremely unlikely. Before the announcement of The Lizard as the villain of Marc Webb's 'Spider-Man' reboot, Croc may have been a possibility, but the similarities between the two characters are too pronounced for two 2012 comic book movies to want to tread the same ground. And, let's face it, all those scales would be a real waste of Hardy's good looks.


Of course, given Nolan's history (Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow in 'Begins,' Two-Face and The Joker in 'Dark Knight'), we could see more than one villain at play in the movie, with Zsasz or Black Mask working as a secondary menace behind a more flamboyant enemy like Riddler or Hush. And we wouldn't want to rule out a return for Catwoman -- we'd much rather see Nolan's vision of the slinky cat-burglar than remember the trainwreck Halle Berry movie as her last on-screen appearance.

Which of Batman's foes would you like to see Hardy play? Vote in our poll and share your thoughts in the comments!

Which Batman Villain Should Tom Hardy Play?
The Riddler593 (59.5%)
Black Mask132 (13.3%)
Hush141 (14.2%)
Victor Zsasz36 (3.6%)
Bane63 (6.3%)
Killer Croc31 (3.1%)


[Follow Laura on Twitter @LauinLA.]
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