'The Dark Knight Rises,' the third film in Christopher Nolan's 'Batman' trilogy, won't hit theaters until July 2012 -- but it's never too soon to start speculating on who might be cast and what role they could tackle in the highly anticipated superhero film.

One thing we know for sure is that Christian Bale will once again be donning the infamous cape and cowl. Once you move past that, things are far less clear. Answers may be available soon, though, as Heat Vision is reporting that Nolan has fired off the Bat Signal and is set to audition a series of actresses for prime parts in the upcoming sequel. The names on his shortlist are sure to inspire much debate amongst the comic contingent as it features a mix of established names and rising talent.

Sources close to the project are saying that Kiera Knightley, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel are all set to test for roles in the coming weeks. Those actresses will be joined by Kata Mara and Charlotte Riley. Gemma Arterton, who was rumored to be in the running as well, may bow out now that she's signed on to co-star in Tommy Wirkola's 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,' alongside Jeremy Renner.
The Dark Knight Rises Movie Poster
The Dark Knight Rises
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It has been eight years since Batman (Christian Bale), in collusion with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman),... Read More