Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy widely survives in his private creation, but its last part, 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, involves a clever nod to the identity of Batman’s larger-than-life villains.
Nolan is known for his characterization of the Batman films, the cartoonist disposition of 1960s television shows, and the sexual, color-infected palette of Joel Schumacher’s films.
This leaves little room for the more iconic members of the rogue gallery in The Dark Knight Rises, which is why viewers never see Nolan’s interpretation of Poison Ivy or Clayface.
Although the people were also interested in a social Gotham, Nolan was never above the context of the larger Batman canon. Deep-cut villain Victor Jazz made a one-shot appearance in Batman Begins, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake was revealed by his legal name, Robin, before he held the key to the Batcave in the Dark Knight Rises vent.
The same film also includes a throw line, touching on the existence of a villain who will not be seen in live-action form until 2016’s Suicide Squad.
Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) is injured in Gotham’s sewer, Blake pleads for help at Bruce Wayne’s mansion. He knows that Wayne (Christian Bale) was once the silent defender of the city, and considers it time for Batman to return.
However, this was not his first plan. Before confronting Wayne, he told his commanding officers about trouble in Gotham’s sewer. According to Blake, his response: “He requested me if the man saw giant crocodiles.”
This surprising comment from the higher-ups in Gotham’s police department is a clear reference to Killer Croc, first introduced in Batman comics in the early 1980s.
Killer Croc was born as Waylon Jones, who lives with a skin condition that gives him a luxurious, reptilian appearance.
In some interpretations, Croc has been transformed into an animal hunter, while others – such as the Suicide Squad – are considered victims of favoritism and injustice. He almost always has super strength, which aids him in his cannibalistic diet.
Presumably, a figure would have a difficult time in this interconnectedness in the Dark Knight universe of Nolan.
If Cott was introduced in this iteration of Gotham, he would likely undergo a major reinterpretation, perhaps in line with his appearance in Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermezzo’s clown graphic novel, which is not a recognized canon.
The Dark Knight Rises did something similar to Tom Hardy’s Bain, which has very few roots in comic books.
Still, it’s good to know that Nolan, who is often criticized for having fun with Batman, is wary of the more bizarre touchstones of Shaded Crusader’s history.