This Week's Cover: 'The Dark Knight Rises' headlines our 2012 Summer Movie Preview issue

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Christopher Nolan knows that The Dark Knight Rises, his third and final film starring Christian Bale as Batman, is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year. But the spoiler-averse director is reluctant to reveal too much about his work before its July 20 release. “So what can I not tell you about my film,” he says by way of the greeting during a break from editing Rises in Los Angeles.

Even so, Nolan did expand upon our first preview of Rises (which took you to the set and offered some insight into the movie’s story and themes) and shared some intel about Batman’s latest cinematic adversaries. First, there’s Bane (played by Inception alum Tom Hardy), a cunning, hulking terrorist with a menacing respirator-mask and a small army bent on sacking Gotham City. “He represents formidable physical strength, combined with absolute evil of intention,” says Nolan.

Hardy’s Bane has another defining characteristic that perhaps you’ve heard about, or perhaps have heard and didn’t understand: a curiously accented voice that’s further muffled by the rogue’s high-tech muzzle. “It’s a risk, because we could be laughed at — or it could be very fresh and exciting,” says Hardy, adding that the voice he developed was influenced by many factors, including a desire to honor the comic book character’s brains and Caribbean heritage. “The audience mustn’t be too concerned about the mumbly voice,” says Hardy. “As the film progresses, I think you’ll be able to tune to its setting.”

And then there’s Anne Hathaway as Selena Kyle, the latest incarnation of Batverse femme fatale Catwoman. Nolan’s take on the character is no campy sexpot or frazzled ghoul but a shifty cipher, calloused survivor, and world-class criminal. Says Nolan, “She has a very strong way of protecting herself and those she cares about, which implies an underlying darkness.” Hathaway says she prepared for the role by reading the comics and studying the moves of Hedy Lamarr and Jean Harlow, the two screen legends that inspired the original conception of the comic book villainess.

The actress also found herself a trainer. “I had to physically transform,” says Hathaway, calling from London, where she’s currently shooting Les Misérables with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. “Chris sat me down at the beginning and said, ‘Joseph Gordon-Levitt did all of his own fighting in Inception. That one zero-gravity fight? He trained for two months.’ I basically left his office and went to the gym and just came out about five minutes ago.”

For more on The Dark Knight Rises — as well as scoop on The Avengers, Men In Black III, The Amazing Spider-Man, Total Recall, Prometheus, and much more — check out EW’s Summer Movie Preview issue, on sale now.

Entertainment Weekly is now available on most tablets, including the iPad, Nook Color, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy. Think of it like the EW you already love, but on steroids: With our digital magazine, you can buy the recommended movies, albums, books, and DVDs while you’re reading about them. Plus, you can watch music videos and film trailers, and find movie showtimes in your neighborhood. Current subscribers can access the digital version of EW for free by downloading the EW app (also free) and logging in using your name and address or the information on your subscription label. Single copies of the magazine are also for sale through the app if you prefer to read EW that way. If you’re not a subscriber, but would like to become one, you can do so by going to ew.com/allaccess.

Read more:
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ earns PG-13 rating
‘The Dark Knight Rises’ trailer: Explosive. Scary. Political?
Christopher Nolan on ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ IMAX prologue: ‘You want to be thrown into a situation that takes your breath away’

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