For those of you who are up to date on your Batman history, the thought of gangster Sal Maroni playing a major role in The Dark Knight is far from an insane idea. After all, Maroni is the one who originally throws acid at Harvey Dent, scarring his face -- an event that paves the way for Dent to become the villain Two Face (who is being played by Aaron Eckhart in the new flick). This scene -- which takes place in a courtroom -- is briefly touched upon in Batman Forever via a news report on TV; in that film, Boss Maroni (as he's referred to) was played by Dennis Paladino.
Batman-on-Film reports that Maroni will once again make an appearance, though director Christopher Nolan might be looking to beef up his role. Early rumors suggest that none other than Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini, is being looked at to play Maroni. However, Aussie actor Alan Dale is also rumored to have been cast as a villain in The Dark Knight, leading some to believe he will be playing Maroni, not Gandolfini. BoF claims Dale's role is a small one; if that's the case -- and he is playing Maroni -- that means the gangster will not have a major role and, instead, will probably show up toward the end to throw acid at Dent. Regardless, this old school storyline is a fun one, especially if Nolan decides to include Carmine Falcone and the infamous serial killer Holiday. Perhaps Gandolfini is Maroni and Dale is Falcone? I don't know, what do you think?
UPDATE: Yes, I'm a moron for not realizing (or remembering) that Tom Wilkinson played Falcone in Batman Begins. Thanks for pointing that out folks!