The closer "The Dark Knight Rises" gets to a planned spring production start, the juicier the project's rumors seem to become. The latest bit of speculation touches on the movie's key female players: Various reports have mentioned names like Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway and Keira Knightley.
But as with so many Hollywood blockbusters before it, a steady stream of "Dark Knight Rises" rumors have been percolating for years. So while we wait to find out which (if any) of these leading ladies will star opposite Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan's third and final "Batman" flick, we can entertain ourselves with a look back at the long history of rumors — some based in solid reporting, others too outlandish to believe — on "Dark Knight Rises."
August 25, 2008: Cher is reportedly being considered for the role of Catwoman.
September 8, 2008: Franchise star Michael Caine says Johnny Depp will play the Riddler and Philip Seymour Hoffman will play the Penguin.
September 30, 2008: Teams are said to be assembling in Chicago — film crew, builders, stuntmen — for a start to pre-production in February 2009.
December 16, 2008: Rachel Weisz is reportedly being considered for the role of Catwoman.
December 18, 2008: Eddie Murphy reportedly lands the role of the Riddler and Shia LaBeouf signs on to become Robin.
January 30, 2009: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer are said to be in the process of writing "Batman 3."
March 10, 2009: With Christopher Nolan pushing forward with "Inception," a report suggests that Sam Worthington will take over the Batman role from Bale.
June 17, 2009: Citing the impact of Heath Ledger's death, Nolan is said to be a long-shot possibility to reprise his directing duties on the upcoming film.
July 24, 2009: Franchise star Gary Oldman floats the notion that shooting will begin in 2010.
August 25, 2009: Reports suggest "Batman 3" will be shot completely in the IMAX film format.
August 26, 2009: Megan Fox is reportedly up for the role of Catwoman.
April 6, 2010: Emily Blunt is said to have passed on "Captain America" in the hopes of landing the part of Catwoman.
November 11, 2010: Nolan reportedly narrows his list of leading ladies to play Bale's love interest to six: Rachel Weisz, Naomi Watts, Blake Lively, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway and Keira Knightley.
December 1, 2010: Wild rumors suggest Nolan is planning to use archival footage of Ledger as the Joker for the new movie.
January 11, 2011: Eva Green is said to be cast as Talia al Ghul (daughter of one of the first film's villains) and Naomi Watts is said to sign on as Bruce Wayne's love interest Vicki Vale. Separate reports suggest casting is still in the works, with a slew of leading ladies being tested: Knightley, Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Kate Mara, Charlotte Riley and Gemma Arterton.
Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."