Guess which Bat-villain returns in The Dark Knight Rises?

A major Batman villain is returning for an encore appearance in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises—but not in the way you might think.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, actor Josh Pence (photo below) has been cast as a young Ra's al Ghul in director Christopher Nolan's third Caped Crusader epic. Pence is best known for playing one of the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, except that his head was digitally replaced by that of actor Armie Hammer.

Now it looks like we'll see Pence as the same character played by Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, except he'll appear in flashbacks that take place 30 years before the events of The Dark Knight Rises.

This news will further fuel speculation that the recently cast Marion Cotillard (Inception) will play Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's, in the film. Cotillard has signed up for the movie, but like another cast member, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, it has not been officially announced which character she is playing.

Ra's was killed at the end of Batman Begins, but while the character in the comics could resurrect himself via the use of a supernatural "Lazarus pit," the immortality angle just wouldn't fit in Nolan's "realistic" Bat-world.

No one in the DKR camp has given any hint of the movie's plot, but it's rumored that Talia will lead a reconstituted League of Shadows back to Gotham to both destroy the city and seek revenge against Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) for her father's death, with Bane (Tom Hardy) along as muscle. Where those flashbacks come into play is anybody's guess at this point.

The Dark Knight Rises also stars Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon and Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. The movie's due out July 20, 2012.

Flashbacks? A young Ra's al Ghul? What do you make of all this?

(Via Heat Vision)

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