Leonardo DiCaprio was sought for Riddler role

As buzz for "The Dark Knight Rises" continues to build, we are learning that Catwoman and Bane were not necessarily Warner Brothers' first choice to represent the villainous vibes of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy finale.

Instead, the studio had envisioned Leonardo DiCaprio in the role of the Riddler (made famous by Jim Carrey in "Batman Forever" and also by Frank Gorshin and John Astin in the '60s television series).

[Related: Christian Bale gets emotional remembering Heath Ledger at the MTV Movie Awards]

"Rises" screenwriter David Goyer recently revealed to Empire magazine (print edition, via What Culture) that the studio essentially thrust the idea of DiCaprio as the Riddler upon he and Nolan after the release of 2008's "The Dark Knight"... around the same time Nolan was pitching "Inception" to them, in which DiCaprio starred.

WB's top execs said, according to Goyer: "Obviously it's gonna be The Riddler, and we want it to be Leonardo DiCaprio."

[Related: Christian Bale's comment opens the door for another 'Batman' movie]

In an interesting twist, the DiCaprio proposal -- while ultimately unsuccessful for unknown reasons -- may have spawned other casting choices. You see, much of the "Inception" cast carries over into "Rises": Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- who was originally thought to be cast as the Riddler.

Goyer also revealed in his Empire interview that the ending of "Rises" was conceived at the outset of his partnership with Nolan in the film franchise (via Screen Rant):

"The final scene of 'The Dark Knight Rises' is exactly [the] scene we talked about [when Christopher Nolan and I started the trilogy with 'Batman Begins']. It remained completely unchanged. We both knew in our hearts that we were onto something special. I have to tell you, having finally seen everything strung together a little while ago and seeing that scene, I got a complete lump in my throat."

The proverbial lump in the throat -- along with other widespread speculation -- has had film geeks pondering for months whether Batman lives or dies in "Rises." No one, so far, has a definitive answer. (Thank god! -- That would be too much of a spoiler in my opinion.)

While this is Nolan's final bow with Batman, the franchise could continue -- as it has for the past 20 plus years. Don't rule DiCaprio out for future Riddler roles.

"Rises" opens in theaters July 20.