The topic of this week's column might be considered a spoiler. Admittedly, it's probably the spoiler that most fans already know about, but if you wish to remain uninformed, I suggest you stop reading.
Over the next two weeks, we'll be discussing the two "Dark Knight Rises" characters that have stirred the most controversy, outside the hugely overblown debacle surrounding Bane's voice.
Almost as soon as Christopher Nolan cast Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fans called "B.S." How could a series with such a storied history for casting great actors as classic characters put Cotillard and Gordon-Levitt in made-up roles like Miranda Tate and John Blake?
The answer is, Nolan wouldn't. Fans saw through the ruse immediately, pointed at Cotillard and cried "Talia al Ghul."
With so much talk swirling around "The Dark Knight Rises" in the early months of its development and confirmation that it would circle back to touch on some themes from "Batman Begins," Talia seemed like a choice candidate for a secondary "Rises" villain. By the time Joey King confirmed that she would be playing young Talia al Ghula, Tate's true identity was all but sealed.
But now we find ourselves in a curious position. With everything but an official press release telling us that Marion Cotillard will play Talia — picking up where her dear old dad, Ra's al Ghul, left off — how will that affect the overall arch of "Dark Knight Rises"? One of the most common complaints about "The Dark Knight" was Two-Face's uneven role. It was the Joker's movie, and many felt that adding such an iconic villain toward the end of the film didn't do the character justice.
Is Talia destined to become the next Two-Face? It all depends on when Miranda Tate's true identity is revealed. Such a high-profile comic book adaptation like "Dark Knight Rises" has to contend with different hazards than a normal film. The Tate/Talia twist could work in a film that didn't feature such well-known characters. Instead, fans have a whole universe of potential true identities to assign if they feel a character is lying, which they did with Tate.
For the reveal to not fall absolutely flat, Nolan would have to introduce the truth in a way that's less "A-ha! I got you!" and more a natural progression of the story line. A spoiler of this caliber does the least amount of damage when less of the plot depends on its shock value. Attempting to make the Talia reveal a big shocker would feel would be a fool's errand at this juncture.
How Talia will fit into "The Dark Knight Rises" also relies heavily on Bane's final role in the film. The prologue strongly hinted at the presence of a renewed League of Shadows with Bane taking the lead. That still leaves a lot of room for a leader above him, the one giving the orders. This is where Talia is most likely to fit in. So much of what we've seen of the film so far focuses on Bane and his role, but many of the shots come from just a few scenes. The trailer only gave the illusion of showing us a lot. That leaves the majority of the film unseen, and plenty of screen time left for Talia.
On that note, even if Cotillard does end up portraying Talia, it really doesn't spoil all that much. A character's identity will never be a focal point of a story. Nolan is too intelligent of a storyteller to waste his final act on a plot development that people guessed a year out. Nothing that this column or any spoiler sites have uncovered has been essential enough to lessen "The Dark Knight Rises" as a movie. Did knowing about Dent's Two-Face transformation in "The Dark Knight" ruin that movie? No. Expect the same with Talia.
What would you like to see from Marion Cotillard in "The Dark Knight Rises"? Let me know on Twitter via @KPSull, and check MTV Splash Page on Wednesday, when we'll discussion your tweets.
Check out everything we've got on "Dark Knight Rises."
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