The Dark Knight Rises might have felt like the logical conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but it wouldn’t have ended there if Warner Bros. had gotten their way. In a recent phone interview with the Toronto Sun, Christian Bale revealed that there were indeed talks of a fourth Batman film directed by Nolan and starring Bale as the Caped Crusader. Although according to the actor, those talks didn’t last very long.
Bale says, “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.’ That’s why we, well Chris, stepped away. After that I was informed my services were no longer required.”
Bale seems to indicate that he might’ve been open to a fourth film had Nolan been interested, which might’ve been an intriguing film. His Bruce Wayne was pretty banged up and dang-near paralyzed by the end of The Dark Knight Rises, so perhaps a fourth movie would’ve followed him dropping in on Gotham to hobble around and check on his successor John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).
Bale also talks a little about his experience working on the trilogy as a whole. “We knew we had to reinvent it,” he says of the first installment, Batman Begins. “I literally had people laugh at me when I told them we were doing a new kind of Batman. I think that the reason it worked was first and foremost Chris’ take on it.”
And although it seems like a foregone conclusion nowadays, when films have multiple sequels greenlit before they’ve even been released in theaters, Bale insists the franchise plans were very much up in the air. “…we never were arrogant to assume that we had an opportunity beyond one film at a time,” he says. “That’s something that Chris always would talk about. He’d say, ‘This is it. We’re making one film. That’s all we’ve got.’ Then 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 a third one.’”
Obviously, Bale and Nolan’s trilogy was a huge success for Warner Bros. The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises remain two of their highest grossing films ever, and their popularity undoubtedly had some effect on the runaway success of Todd Phillips’ Joker. But it doesn’t seem like the actor is going to be returning to the cape and cowl anytime soon.