“The Dark Knight Rises” would not have been the last Christopher Nolan-Christian Bale comic book epic had Warner Bros. gotten its way.
Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy is widely considered one of the best comic book franchises in film history, and it proved to be a huge financial win for Warner Bros. with the three installments collectively grossing $2.4 billion at the worldwide box office. The third and final entry, 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” ended with Bale’s Bruce Wayne alive and giving up his Batman role. Alfred (Michael Caine) spots Bruce and Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) happily together in Florence, Italy. The conclusion of the “Dark Knight” trilogy left the door open for Bruce to one day return to his superhero persona, and Bale tells the Toronto Sun that a fourth Nolan Batman movie was pitched by the studio.
“When they came [to us after ‘Batman Begins’] and said, ‘You want to go make another?’ It was fantastic, but we still said, ‘This is it. We will not get another opportunity,’” Bale said. “Then they came and they said, ‘OK, let’s do the third one.’ Chris had always said to me that if we were fortunate to be able to make three we would stop. ‘Let’s walk away after that,’ he said. Then when they inevitably came to us and said, ‘How about a No. 4?’ I said, ‘No. We have to stick to Chris’ dream, which was always to, hopefully, do a trilogy. Let’s not stretch too far and become overindulgent and go for a fourth.’”
Following “The Dark Knight Rises,” Nolan went on to direct his space epic “Interstellar” and his World War II survival thriller “Dunkirk.” The director’s next film, the global spy thriller “Tenet,” is opening in theaters July 17, 2020. All of these films have the backing of Warner Bros. Bale, meanwhile, followed his final turn as Batman by starring in “Out of the Furnace” and “American Hustle,” the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Bale is currently in theaters with “Ford v Ferrari,” which opened to a strong $31 million at the box office.
Warner Bros. did not wait too long after “The Dark Knight Rises” to reintroduce Batman on the big screen. Ben Affleck debuted as the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder’s 2016 comic book movie “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and he reprised the superhero in 2017’s “Justice League.” Robert Pattinson will be the next movie Batman in a Matt Reeves-directed tentpole (titled “The Batman”) set for release June 25, 2021.