Johnny Depp
Credit: Depp: Solarpix/PR Photos; Riddler:©DC Comics

Last year, Michael Caine got into a heap of hot water when he merely dared to address rumors that Johnny Depp might play the Riddler in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight sequel. Well, Caine’s no dummy. And when he was recently asked the question again by, he definitively stated that Depp would not be playing the Riddler…which, of course, may be news, too.

Back in April, I spoke with Christian Bale over the phone about Public Enemies, and asked him then about the Depp rumors, thinking he might support the idea since he had just worked with Depp. He didn’t take the bait. After I asked the question, he took the phone away from his ear, turned to someone who was in the room with him (I’m guessing a publicist or agent or some other stone-faced gatekeeper) and asked them, “Is there any truth to the fact that Johnny Depp’s the Riddler?…Say nothing?” Then he got back on the phone with me. “The men in black suits are telling me to say nothing.”

So much for that one. Still, when it comes to a movie with as much ‘wanna-see’ as Batman 3, there are rumors everywhere you turn . Some other recent unsubstantiated nuggets from Gotham City include Gary Oldman’s loose-lipped revelation during Comic-Con that a Dark Knight sequel would shoot next year and come out in 2011. But that seemed immediately fishy since there may not even be a script yet. And then there was the rumor that had some technical nerds all hot and bothered: will the film be shot completely in IMAX? And speaking of hot and bothered, what about the report in the always-entertaining-but-rarely-reliable British tabloids that Megan Fox would play Catwoman (previously, such diverse names as Angelina Jolie, Rachel Weisz, and, gulp, Cher, had been bandied about). No doubt, Fox would be easy on the eyes in a black leather catsuit, but really, Megan Fox? No one bought that for a second, including Fox’s reps, who shot it down lickety split (much as they did when she was mentioned as the next Bond girl…sometimes you have to wonder if it’s Fox herself who starts these rumors).

So what does all of this speculation mean? Not much, really. But that shouldn’t prevent us from also resurrecting some of the older rumors surrounding the Dark Knight sequel and taking the temperature from those of you reading this. Like, for example, the old Depp as the Riddler doozy. Is this a good idea? A bad idea? Better or worse than the earlier rumor about Eddie Murphy as the Riddler? I think we can all agree that almost anyone would be better in the green question-mark-covered spandex than Jim Carrey was in 1995’s Batman Forever. But who do you have in mind?

And then there’s the role of Penguin. Around the same time as the first Depp-as-Riddler rumors were trickling out, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s name was floated as a candidate for the Caped Crusader’s waddling nemesis. Those rumors have since been shot down, but what do you think about Hoffman as Penguin? Inspired? Ludicrous?

All we know at this point is that we know absolutely nothing. And Nolan is so wrapped up in his upcoming film, Inception, that even he probably hasn’t thought about these questions. The one thing that is for sure, though, is that after The Dark Knight raked in $988 million worldwide — the second-largest historical gross after 1997’s Titanic — this sucker’s going to get made eventually. There’s too much money to be made for it not to.

So let’s hear from you: who would you cast in the next Batman film?

Photo Credit: Depp: Solarpix/PR Photos; Riddler:©DC Comics