Anne Hathaway has been cast as Catwoman, aka Selina Kyle, in "The Dark Knight Rises,” Warner Bros. announced Wednesday.
It also announced that previously cast Tom Hardy will play the beefy villain Bane, best known for breaking Batman's back in the comics.
“I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies,” director Christopher Nolan said in a statement.
Interestingly, the name "Catwoman" doesn't appear in Warner Bros. casting announcement -- only the name of her alter ego, Selina Kyle. Similarly, Aaron Eckhart's Harvey Dent was never explicitly called "Two-Face" in "The Dark Knight," as he is in the comics. The omission suggests Nolan plans to stick to the realistic-as-possible feel of his previous Batman movies.
Hathaway's casting ends months of speculation about who would win perhaps the most coveted female lead in Hollywood. It also ended rampant fan guesswork about who Christian Bale's caped crusader would face in the new film.
Among the actresses reportedly in contention or testing for the role of Batman's foil were Keira Knightley, Jessica Biel, and Gemma Arterton. Those were far from the wildest guesses: Soon after the release of "The Dark Knight," the British Mirror reported that Cher was a shoe-in.
The announcement pairs one of Batman's oldest major foes (Catwoman is also a frequent romantic interest) with one of his newest. Catwoman first appeared, along with The Joker, in Batman No. 1 in 1940. Bane debuted in 1993.
Catwoman was played previously by Lee Meriwether in the 1966 movie version of "Batman," Michelle Pfeiffer in 1992's "Batman Returns," and by Halle Berry's in 2004's ill-fated "Catwoman."
Bane appeared as a masked, juiced-up, largely silent minion of Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy in 1997's "Batman and Robin."
Though no plot points have been disclosed, the two "Rises" additions are arguably the most physical of the Bat-rivals Nolan has introduced so far. The Scarecrow and The Joker both relied on psychological terror, and Ra's al Ghul, while a master of hand-to-hand combat, let his trained warriors carry out most of his bidding.
Catwoman is a villain writ small compared to the others: In the comics, she is usually portrayed as a thief with none of the wide-ranging schemes of The Joker, the Riddler, or Batman's other power-mad opponents.
In Frank Miller's masterful "Batman: Year One," from which Nolan has borrowed before, she's a prostitute inspired by the sight of Batman to take up cat burglaring. She also appeared as the antihero of a 1990s series of her own.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is slated for release on July 20, 2012.
The story was first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.