Oscar-nommed thesp faces off against Bale

Batman’s first foe has been found.

Ken Watanabe will play the role of Ra’s Al-Ghul in Warner Bros.’ fifth reincarnation of the yet-to-be-titled Batman franchise, helmed by Christopher Nolan.

Watanabe, Oscar-nominated for his supporting perf in Warners’ “The Last Samurai,” will face off against Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader in the film that revolves around Batman’s origins.

Watanabe will play a terrorist and head of a worldwide criminal organization. His character’s name in Arabic means “the demon’s head.”

Michael Caine, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman round out the film’s cast.

Pic, penned by David Goyer, is being produced by Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Larry Franco. Exec producers are Ben Melniker and Michael Uslan.

Pic is scheduled to start production in London next month for a 2005 release.

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