So far, Warner Bros. have been sticking pretty closely to the marketing template established on "The Dark Knight" for its follow-up, "The Dark Knight Rises." And considering the original was a billion-dollar hit, not fixing what wasn't broken seems like a smart move. While more official photos from the film have been revealed at this stage at the game than last time round -- principally because the studio's hand has been forced by omnipresent set photos -- the pattern has been about the same, otherwise. It kicked off with a brief, cryptic teaser trailer in the summer, and it will be followed by with a lengthy IMAX-only prolouge of the film coming with the big Christmas release, "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," and we're guessing a longer trailer likely to hit around the same time, probably with Warners' "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows."
But there's one other piece of the reveal that's being repeated. Three years ago, the front-cover of Empire Magazine, the world's biggest, and best, film periodical, provided the first, instantly iconic glimpse of Heath Ledger as The Joker in Christopher Nolan's last Batflick. And again, history is repeating itself, as the magazine are featuring "The Dark Knight Rises" on the cover of their January 2011 issue, and have just revealed those images on their site. Update: A closer look at Bane a limited edition cover of the mag has also hit, check it out below. [via ComingSoon]
This time around, there are two covers. One provides the clearest look so far as "Inception" star Tom Hardy as Bane, the inhumanly strong villain who'll be Bruce Wayne's principle tormentor in the new film. There's not much here that hasn't been seen before now, (bar the pockmarks on his arm, but we're not going to read too much into it), but it's the first official front-on look at the star, and he's looking like a pretty imposing foe so far. There's also a little quote from Hardy on his character at the bottom, suggesting that the actor's charms won't be on display this time round: "He's brutal. He's a terrorist. A really horrible piece of work."
The other cover features our hero, Christian Bale, as the man of the bat, and we're sure fanboy speculation is already fervent about the new gizmo in his hand, presumably something from Lucius Fox's bag of tricks. Is it a radar gun? A fancy hard drive? A new kind of tazer? Has Bale been giving Wally Pfister a hand with the lighting in between takes? As yet, Nolan's secret factory hasn't spilled any beans. Bale, too, gets a cover quote, hinting at the theme of the film: "He has to answer the question: how long do you allow pain to dominate your life?"
It looks like more will be revealed later in the week, as Empire have an exclusive set report in the magazine, with some new photos that we're sure will come out in the next few days. The issue hits newsstands on Thursday, November 24th, and it looks like if you buy one copy this year, it might have to be this one. Meanwhile, "The Dark Knight Rises," which also stars an extraordinary line-up of talent including Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Juno Temple, Josh Pence, Daniel Sunjata, Burn Gorman, Nestor Carbonell, Matthew Modine and Tom Conti, among many others, will arrive in theaters on July 20, 2012.