As a child of the 1980s, I grew up watching the Tim Burton BATMAN films constantly. However, as big a fan as I am of BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS, to me Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy is the pinnacle of cinematic Batman. Nolan’s BATMAN BEGINS, THE DARK KNIGHT, and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES were critical and box office successes. The third film was the trilogy capper and an appropriate conclusion to the saga. However, the film raked in $1.084 billion worldwide so it’s not surprising that both Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan were approached about doing a fourth DARK KNIGHT film.
While doing promotional work for FORD V FERRARI (read Chris Bumbray’s review here) Christian Balestated that while there were discussions about a fourth entry, ultimately the pair felt it would have been one batarang too far:
When they came and said, “You want to go make another?” It was fantastic, but we still said, “This is it. We will not get another opportunity…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.”
Bale went on to say that Christopher Nolan‘s approach was always to focus on one film at a time in order to make the best movie possible. (Novel concept huh?) While THE DARK KNIGHT trilogy is well regarded now in the annals of cinematic history, people forget that the series was never a sure thing. BATMAN BEGINS made under $400 million worldwide on a $150 million budget, so the fact that audiences got a sequel based off such a modest box office return is a minor miracle.
I’m glad that Nolan and Bale were smart enough to know when to stop. I don’t know how in the Hell they would have pulled off a fourth film in any event. Christian Bale‘s Bruce Wayne fakes his own death at the conclusion of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES leaving Gotham City without a Batman. However, the ending implied that Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s John Blake would pick up the Mantle of the Bat. Regardless, I can’t even begin to the fathom the plot gymnastics necessary to justify Bruce Wayne returning as Batman. More than likely the film would have come off overindulgent just as Christian Bale stated.
In the meantime the baton has since been passed to actor Robert Pattinson. THE LIGHTHOUSE actor will don the cape and cowl for director Matt Reeves‘ THE BATMAN, set to hit theaters June 25, 2021. You can currently catch Christian Bale speeding along the raceway as Ken Miles in James Mangold‘s FORD V FERRARI currently in theaters.