Unless they've been stuck in the Batcave, fanboys and girls are eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Dark Knight Rises in theaters on July 20. And given the intense buzz surrounding the third installment of Christopher Nolan's Caped Crusader saga, it looks as if Batman's going out on quite a high note.
But for the uninitiated who haven't been keeping up with the battle for Gotham's soul these past seven years, we've put together a handy primer on who's who in TDKR to get everyone up to speed.
And for those anxious to see how the legend will end, we've got the lowdown on some of the new characters popping up in the threequel.
Bruce Wayne/Batman: Christian Bale reprises his role as Bruce Wayne and his masked vigilante alter ego for what will likely be the final time. As The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the Joker reigned anarchy down on Gotham City. All is calm while Batman has essentially been banished into exile, though he's about to meet his toughest foe yet, in the form of...
Bane: As played by a bulked up Tom Hardy, the terrorist mastermind can match Batman in brains and brawn. In the 1993 "Knightfall" storyline arc which marked one of his first appearances in the Batman comic, Bane broke the Caped Crusader's back. From the look of TDKR's trailers, he might end up doing similar spine-crushing damage in the movie.
Selina Kyle/Catwoman: Anne Hathaway slips into the feline role played with relish by Michelle Pfeiffer in Tim Burton's Batman Returns (lets just forget about Halle Berry's embarrassing outing in 2004's Catwoman, shall we?) and Lee Meriwether, Eartha Kitt and Julie Nemar in the '60s TV series. With Bruce Wayne's old flame, Rachel Dawes, long dead, the actress will no doubt spice up the billionaire's love life. She'll also supposedly help unleash Bane upon Gotham.
Alfred Pennyworth: Michael Caine returns as Alfred, Bruce's long-doting butler and father figure since the death of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne left young Bruce an orphan. However, the latest story will find their relationship strained as Batman gets back into gear to fight Bane.
Commissioner James Gordon: Gary Oldman is also back as the detective-turned-police commissioner who's managed—with Batman's help—to make Gotham's streets safe again. However, as Bane puts his evil scheme into action, the top brass will still have the unenviable task of trying to convince citizens that the city still needs its shadowy protector.
Lucius Fox: Morgan Freeman reprises his role as Wayne Enterprises' business manager who secretly supplies Batman with all his equipment needs, including the Tumbler and Batpod. He'll continue that mission with the Batwing which is making its debut in The Dark Knight Rises.
Miranda Tate: Rumor had it Tate (Marion Cotillard) might be Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, Batman's nemesis played by Liam Neeson in 2005's Batman Begins—who also might also be returning in a cameo. But the only word we have on her now is that the character is an executive board member of Wayne Enterprises who encourages Bruce to renew his philanthropic activities.
John Blake: Like Tate, not much is known about this young Gotham police officer played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt except that he supposedly represents the crime fighting idealism that both Batman and Gordon have lost over time in their battles. It wouldn't surprise us in the least if Nolan leaves the door open to rebooting the Batman franchise with Blake filling in for Wayne in the cape and cowl.