Although it's not official yet, it's starting to look like Marion Cotillard will indeed play a role in "The Dark Knight Rises," the final Batman film from director Christopher Nolan, and it's being described by those breaking the story as the "love interest" for the movie.

I would be surprised if this is a throwaway character, and much of the speculation around the role has centered on Talia Al Ghul, daughter to Ra's al Ghul, played by Liam Neeson in the first film.  In the comics, Talia is one of the most significant romantic matches for Bruce Wayne, having actually fathered Damian Wayne, the fifth Robin.  Talia would certainly bring the film series full-circle, and there were many early reports that she was being brought into the continuity in some way.

What drives me crazy during the period between Batman movies is the way fans tie themselves in knots over what did or didn't happen in the comics, and what that means to the movies.  By now, it should be apparent that Christopher Nolan hasn't been following any established continuity to the letter.  Instead, he's allowed himself and his creative team to play with various elements from throughout the entire mythology of Batman.  I'm hoping he does the same thing as a producer on Zack Snyder's "Superman," and it looks to me like that's going to be the case on "The Amazing Spider-Man" over at Sony, too, as well as "X-Men: First Class".

We are entering the second real stage of the age of the superhero movie, and I think conversations about how close something is or isn't to a particular run of a comic book are irrelevant.  For the films to work… for any of these films to really work as movies… there has to be a freedom to build something as a film franchise first, and as an adaptation second.

Let's see who Cotillard is playing.  Let's see how Nolan plans to close out the story he's been building over the first two films, particularly since he's had to rethink his use of the Joker.  Let's see if he's going to try to connect both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Cotillard by birth to fallen fathers in the form of Carmine Falcone and Ra's Al Ghul.  If so, this final film really needs to deal with Bruce Wayne officially and conclusively putting his own damaged family issues behind him, something that has to happen if he ever hopes to be the fully realized version of Batman. 

Whatever the case, it's an exciting time, because we're finally seeing real choices by Nolan, and not just fanboy wishlisting that gets bounced around the Internet echo chamber to fill the void of real news on the movie.  We're getting close, and as a result, there should be a trickle of solid information and then a flood of it.  Rejoice, Batfans, because the Dark Knight is indeed about to rise.