Anne Hathaway: Catwoman in ‘Dark Knight Rises’

Tom Hardy joins as Batman nemesis Bane

Catwoman has yet another life to live.

Warner Bros. has tapped Anne Hathaway for the Selina Kyle role — the alter ego of superburglar Catwoman — opposite Christian Bale in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Whether Hathaway’s character is friend, foe (or both) to the Caped Crusader isn’t yet clear. Warners played it close to the vest in its announcement Wednesday, using Kyle’s name in the release without mentioning Catwoman.

Studio also announced that Tom Hardy has been cast as Batman’s adversary Bane.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story,” director Christopher Nolan said.

Hathaway has been in a wide variety of comedic and dramatic roles in pics such as “Love and Other Drugs,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Rachel Getting Married,” but the comicbook genre represents a departure for her.

Her character has a complex history dating back over seven decades in DC Comics — portraying both an adversary and an ally to Batman. She first appeared in 1940 as “the Cat,” a cat burglar with a whip.

Michelle Pfeiffer played the Kyle role in Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns,” and Halle Berry starred in the widely panned “Catwoman,” but the 2004 pic had little relation to the Batman saga.

Hardy’s set to portray the powerful villain Bane, whose weapon of choice was a drug called Venom when he debuted in 1993. Hardy starred in Nolan’s “Inception” and is toplining Warner’s delayed “Mad Max 4: Fury Road.”

Absent from Wednesday’s announcement was any mention of Legendary Pictures, which teamed with Warners on “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” Legendary and Warners launched their co-financing, co-production pact in 2005 and were partnered on five Warner releases last year — but apparently will not be on “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Nolan, who penned the screenplay with his brother Jonathan, will also produce with his longtime producing partner, Emma Thomas, and Charles Roven.

Christopher Nolan and Goyer helped breathe new life into the Batman franchise in 2005 co-writing “Batman Begins,” which took $352 million worldwide. The 2008 follow-up, “The Dark Knight,” earned $1 billion.

Studio has set July 20, 2012, as the release date for the next installment.

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