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Did Christopher Nolan Secretly Introduce Deathstroke In The Dark Knight Rises?

Even though director Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy is overrated according to a growing number of fans, it's hard to argue that it doesn't boast some impressive villains. The late Heath Ledger's take on the Joker has become the stuff of comic book movie legend, and performances from Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow and Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face, for instance, are widely-adored. According to one fan theory, though, a legendary Batman rogue might have appeared in plain sight in 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises," only for next to no one to notice.

At the start of the film, Bane (Tom Hardy, who had an unexpected source of inspiration for the character) springs a trap on a CIA plane, taking down several operatives from the organization. One such individual is Bill Wilson (Aiden Gillen). According to the film's novelization, many online claim he is actually Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson, with Bill simply being an alias. Others like @supes on TikTok and u/housepainterr on Reddit have brought up a supposed document pertaining to Wilson, which features Slade as an alias and Bill Wilson as a codename. However, it has since come to light that this document isn't from an official source and is nothing more than a hoax, meaning the theory that Bill and Deathstroke are one and the same doesn't have much evidence aside from their shared surname.

Unsurprisingly, this Deathstroke idea isn't the only secret villain theory to spring from the Dark Knight trilogy.

The Dark Knight trilogy is full of hidden villains, according to fans

As the "Dark Knight" trilogy has receded further into the past, DC fans have taken it upon themselves to analyze it from every possible angle multiple times over. What has come from this exhaustive examination are theories like the aforementioned Deathstroke one, positing that there are more Batman rogues hidden in the three movies than one might think. 

Another prominent theory centers on Wayne Enterprises employee Coleman Reese (Joshua Harto), who figures out in "The Dark Knight" that Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is Batman. As if his detective skills weren't noteworthy enough, he's often referred to simply as Mr. Reese, which sounds a lot like "mysteries" when said quickly. Therefore, many, like Redditor u/AgentOfEris believe that Reese could be a nod to the intellectually-gifted Batman villain the Riddler, or, potentially, could be the character himself. 

Additionally, there's the idea that Clayface could exist in the Dark Knight trilogy, or that he could be created sometime after its events. A supporting player in "The Dark Knight Rises" is the owner of Daggett Enterprises, John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), who shares a last name with Roland Daggett (Ed Asner) from "Batman: The Animated Series." In one of the show's best episodes, "Feat of Clay," it's revealed that Daggett Industries created a facial cream called Renuyu to turn one's face into any shape they desire. Actor Matt Hagen (Ron Perlman) becomes addicted to it, transforming into Clayface and committing crimes on Daggett's behalf. Though Daggett is killed in "The Dark Knight Rises," that doesn't mean Hagen couldn't exist as in this universe in some form.

It's highly unlikely any of these villain theories are Dark Knight trilogy canon, but they're certainly fun to ponder all the same.