Let's make this clear from the top: none of us have seen The Dark Knight Rises, or even talked about it with the precious few members of the press who have. We're just as in the dark as you guys at this point, feverishly anticipating the film's July 20 release and wondering, after seeing so many trailers and brief glimpses, just what will happen for the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.

We don't want to be spoiled at this point, of course. But it's hard to resist a little speculation, whether from attempts to piece together the clues in the trailers or just getting a little geeky about Batman lore to see which parts might fit into this story. So below are some of our wild and not-so-wild theories about what will happen in The Dark Knight Rises-- including two big ones that totally conflict with each other and the theory Eric threw out there yesterday. We're spitballing here, but with the ticket to see The Dark Knight Rises practically in our hands, we can't help but make a few guesses about what we'll see.

Check out the theories below, then vote in the poll to let us know which of them-- if any-- you buy.

Batman Will Die
This is obviously a theory a lot of people have come up with, but with all the talk of Batman sacrificing everything for Gotham City, it seems obvious from the trailers that he at least intends to die in service to the people. And given how insistent Christopher Nolan is that his version of Batman is done, the road seems open for him to kill off Bruce Wayne, wrap up his story, and give the trilogy the kind of gut-wrenching conclusion it deserves.

Or Maybe He Won't Die
There’s no way Warner Bros. will let anyone kill off its cash cow … not even King Nolan. Nor do I believe the filmmaker who staked Batman’s reputation on the “Why do we fall?” mythology even wants his Caped Crusader to perish. Yes, I know there’s that oft-quoted line of dialogue between Catwoman and Batman in the latest trailer, the one about our hero giving the citizens of Gotham everything. But it’s so heavy-handed and obvious, she might as well have screamed, “You haven’t died for them yet, Christ figure!” Of course, the Internet took the ball and ran with it, giving Nolan fits of glee, I’m sure. Batman won’t die. He’ll rise.

Bane Will Break Batman's Back
This one seems predestined. Clearly, Bane’s going to knock Batman out of commission for an extended period of time. Joseph Gordon-Levitt talks to the chalk-wielding kid about whether or not Batman will come back. JGL asks Selina Kyle if they “killed” him, to which she replies, “I don’t know.” And when we see CHristian Bale robed and bearded, he appears to be walking with a cain … as well as a Caine (in Michael). Zing! But seriously, folks, Batman: Knightfall is the quintessential Bane storyline, and you wouldn’t introduce Bane only to ignore it. Also, there are more than enough clues to suggest Nolan’s going down this route in Rises. I think Bruce Wayne’s spine, temporarily at least, is toast.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Character Will Become Batman
Christopher Nolan has said A Tale of Two Cities was a major influence on The Dark Knight Rises. But aside from social discord and a multi-protagonist approach, what else could he and his screenwriting brother be plucking from this classical inspiration? My guess is someone will do a Sydney Carton-like switcheroo, stepping in to sacrifice himself in lieu of another for the greater good. And I think it will be Joseph Gordon-Levitt's good cop, who I suspect will take on the Batman mask then take the hit that Nolan may not be able to bare delivering to his Dark Knight.

Catwoman Will Team Up With Batman, But Betray Him
Every time we’ve seen Catwoman in any Batman story, she’s been tormenting the Bat while also strangely pulling him in. Anne Hathaway’s take on the character seems no different, and in the trailers we see her advising him on how to handle Bane and even hopping into the Batwing. But given the dark tone of what we’ve seen so far, and how often Bane seems to be beating up on the Bat, we’re guessing Catwoman’s help isn’t quite as useful as it seems, and she’ll be more foe than friend by the end of the story.

Scarecrow Will Make A Cameo
I'm not sure anyone was expecting Cillian Murphy to show up in The Dark Knight but, lo and behold, the Scarecrow made the briefest of brief appearances. In many ways, Murphy is just another member of the growing Nolan repertory company (and perhaps a lucky charm a la Michael Caine) and I would be more surprised if Scarecrow didn't make an appearance in The Dark Knight Rises. As a purveyor of illegal narcotics, perhaps he's connected with Bane due to his dependance on venom, even if Nolan's Bane requires slightly a different venom that the usual 'life-sustaining, steroid-fuel' needed to survive.

Liam Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul Will Return, Thanks To The Lazarus Pit
We know for sure that Ra's Al Ghul will be returning for The Dark Knight Rises, since Josh Pence was cast as a young version of the leader of the League of Shadows. But I'm also willing to bet that Liam Neeson also reprises the role. Whispers of Neeson visiting the set started to emerge around the same time as these set photos showed a potential 'Lazarus Pit' in India. If the young Ra's found the natural phenomenon - a lazarus pit heals and restore all life - it stands to reason that his older self might take advantage of its mystical powers. A resurrection device doesn't exactly fit within the Nolan realistic universe, but whether through flashback or a surprise return, we will see Ra's Al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises. Will it be a rejuvenated Neeson?

Harvey Dent Is Still Alive
The hope that Harvey Dent is alive owes its legs to how the superhero genre operates more than anything else. Aaron Eckhart has publicly said over-and-over again that his character is dead. The trailers don’t even hint at his survival; yet, something still just feels a little off about his death. Nolan took great pains to make Batman and Gotham as gritty and realistic as possible, but even so, Dent’s plunge off the building doesn’t feel like an event that should have been the climax of such an important character. More than likely, we’re all just over-analyzing. Luckily, that sort of thing is encouraged on the Internet.

Which of these predictions do you think will actually come true?

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