The Dark Knight, Christian Bale

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Dark Knight Rises.

That's the title director Christopher Nolan is running with for his third go-round with the Batman franchise he successfully rebooted with 2005's Batman Begins and 2008's blockbuster sequel The Dark Knight.

But what about those neverending rumors that the Caped Crusader will duke it out with the Riddler?  Well, the answer isn't much of an enigma anymore.

"It won't be the Riddler," the helmer tells Los Angeles Times,  no doubt to the disappointment of fanboys dreaming Johnny Depp might get the call.

The casting announcement is eagerly anticipated given whoever takes on the role will have his hands full having to follow Heath Ledger's mesmerizing and ultimately Oscar-winning performance as the Joker.

While declining to put an end to the mystery surrounding his latest baddie, one thing Nolan does make clear is that The Dark Knight Rises will not be shot in 3-D. Instead, Nolan plans to use high-definition technology and the IMAX cameras, similar to the eye-popping visuals of The Dark Knight, which grossed $1 billion worldwide, third all time just behind two little James Cameron pictures.

As for any plot points in what Nolan sees as the grand finale to a Batman trilogy?

Nolan says that the new film, cowritten with Jonathan Nolan and David Goyer, will find the Caped Crusader on the run from the very Gothamites he's repeatedly saved from evildoers.

"We'll use many of the same characters as we have all along, and we'll be introducing some new ones," Nolan says.

That may include Tom Hardy, the hardscrabble hunk who played the forger on Leonardo DiCaprio's team of dream invaders in Nolan's Inception. Hardy has reportedly been tapped to play one of the leads opposite Christian Bale in the new Batman flick, which is shooting for release on July 20, 2012.

There's also word the helmer has been meeting with actresses in their 20s and 30s for another key part, though no word on which villain that may be (Catwoman perhaps?).

For those keeping track at home, Nolan has already gone through a chunk of Batman's rogues gallery, having included Ra's al Ghul, Scarecrow, Joker and Two Face in his first two movies. Aside from the Riddler, Nolan has previously ruled out using other major archfoes like Mr. Freeze or the Penguin.

Who else could it be? Killer Croc? Man-Bat? Black Mask? Gentleman Ghost? Some new creation?

Let the guessing begin.

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