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I was just curious if Christopher Nolan ever gave reasoning behind his choice of villains (Ra's, Joker, and Bane) to make appearances in the trilogy. I was thinking maybe the choices were more "iconic" to the series and would bring more butts to seats in the theatre, but it's hard to say Bane is more iconic than Mr. Freeze, the Riddler, etc.

Disclaimer: I haven't read the comics or other canon, if it's something obvious like that was the order they appeared in the comic series.

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Ra's al Ghul

It would seem that writer David Goyer had a great deal of influence over the selections of all the villains.

David S. Goyer, who co-wrote Batman Begins with director Christopher Nolan, says they wanted to broaden the parameters of the Batman mythology. "I think, of the Batman villains, Ra's Al Ghul is the most complex," he told Creative Screenwriting magazine. "We modelled him after Osama bin Laden. He's not crazy in the way that all the other Batman villains are. He's not bent on revenge; he's actually trying to heal the world. He's just doing it by very draconian means."

So Ra's al Ghul was chosen because he wasn't insane, but rather a Well-Intentioned Extremist. This was meant to strike a constrast with the conception of the insane Batman villain, exemplified by the Joker.

The Joker

Wikipedia, referencing an unretrievable Empire article, suggests the Nolan wanted to reinterpret the Joker. I think this is probably the most obvious case, though. The Joker is the quintessential Batman villain. He is the logical choice for any series, and indeed was possibly going to appear in the third film before Heath Ledger's death.

Bane

Bane was chosen because he was a brutal, physical villain, to contrast with the psychological games of the Joker:

With Bane, the physicality is the thing,” Nolan said. “With a good villain you need an archetype, you know, you need the extreme of some type of villainy. The Joker is obviously a particular archetype of diabolical, chaotic anarchy and has a devilish sense of humor. Bane, to me, is something we haven’t dealt with in the films. We wanted to do something very different in this film. He’s a primarily physical villain, he’s a classic movie monster in a way — but with a terrific brain. I think he’s a fascinating character. I think people are going to get a kick out of what we’ve done with him.”

According to Wikipedia, referencing (again) a 2013 Empire article, the Riddler was initially considered for the role of antagonist, but rejected for the reasons previously mentioned, i.e. a lack of physicality and being too similar to the Joker.

Unsurprisingly, David Goyer was influential in choosing Bane.

Looking at the process as a whole, it would seem that variety was the main goal. Ra's al Ghul and Bane were both chosen because they broke the mold set by the Joker.

  • "The Riddler was [...] rejected for the reasons previously mentioned". I think I miss those reasons in your great answer. Was this character too similar to another portrayed already in the series (not enough variety) or not enough of an archetype? Could you please elaborate more on this? – Kreann May 6 '16 at 13:54
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    This is pretty good, but the movies usually have a secondary villain. In BB, it's Scarecrow. In TDK, it's Two-Face. In TDKR, it's Talia (or she's the primary villain and Bane is secondary, depending on your view). Any info on these other choices? – Turambar May 6 '16 at 16:54

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