Why does this movie need female characters anyway? With the exception of Catwomen in Batman Returns, all the women in the Batman movies have been boring. Batman doesn't need a love interest in every movie. It would be refreshing to have all the main characters in a movie be male for once.
Or... (shocking suggestion coming up)... How refreshing would it be to have one or, heck, maybe even several female characters, but make them interesting and important to the story and as active as the male characters?
I really don't get the logic "this or that movie franchise/TV show has had boring female characters, so let's just remove females altogether and only have male heroes since they're only worth it, females suck". Well if they suck, it's because they're written that way, so how about trying to write them better?
Well, not to put words in anybody's mouths, but I think the sentiment was "why bother having token females, if all you're going to do is use them as someone the protagonist attempts to fuck/save"?
I agree with your point, that there ought to be female characters who aren't there just to do that. The problem here is firstly with the source material and secondly with how Nolan's run the franchise.
Talia al Ghul would be a great antagonist... if she'd been at all set up in the first film. Also if her father hadn't been shorn of all his cool shit in an effort to appeal to the squares who don't get things like "magic immortality pits" and then made even lamer with the world's dumbest terrorist plot. And sadly, Talia is still the best
choice for a female antagonist.*
Catwoman is actually a pretty decent character, but on the other hand, not really a villain to hang a film on, because she's not opposed to Batman, really, they just kind of get in each other's way. Also, there's not much thematic power in "big buy beats up a woman who likes to steal shit." Fetish material, yes, but no thematic power.
After that, I'm at a loss to think of any female Bat-family characters that are suitable. Poison Ivy was mentioned, but let's not kid ourselves, she's fundamentally a B-list Bat-villain. B+, at best. Her power set also fails to fit into the gritty/realistic/frankly uncool Nolan interpretation of the Batman mythos.
Harley Quinn? Yeah, the Joker's obnoxious sidekick ought to be able to finish the trilogy on a high note.
Sasha Bordeaux? You don't even know who that is. And neither do I. Nor do either one of us care. Also she wasn't a villain.
I literally couldn't think of any more, so I went here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman_villains
The first female villain I even recognized
was Lady Vic. And I'd bet a dollar I'm the only one who knows what she looks like, and that's only on account she was in Secret Six
But she did remind me of Lady Shiva, who would come off pretty much identically to Talia, outside the larger context of the comics, in the narrower scope of film portrayal. Except she'd also be a racial stereotype. Keen!
I still say Azrael or Bane, or both. They're the only foes that would 1)fit in with Nolan's take on Batman in general and 2)have enough conceptual strength to carry a film.
Or Catman. Catman would be cool.
*On the other hand, maybe Talia in the Nolanverse wouldn't be too bad. It might be better than in some of the comics she's been in, since her portrayal in the upcoming film would, by default, not
be a portrayal of Talia that didn't reduce her to "that chick Bruce Wayne banged back in the 1980s, and who finally had his son twenty years later"--that is, essentially a plot device. Seriously, I just read Batman and Son
and for its few strengths, Morrison's Talia is just... painfully bad. Painfully sexist and really just unpleasantly pointlike in how many dimensions she exists in there. (Also, note to aspiring terrorists: you can't make the British Army disband its garrison on Gibraltar because you kidnapped the PM's wife. That's just fucking stupid.)