After The Dark Knight Rises helped director Christopher Nolan, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. add another billion dollar mega hit to their repertoire, it was almost strange to hear the words from Nolan and star Christian Bale that they were done with the series. In the age of lengthy film franchises, and prequels/sequels/spinoffs, it was a given that Batman was going to continue, and continue being successful, so why stop?

Then came the rumors and speculation (wishful thinking on the part of fans) that Bale could make a surprise appearance in Man of Steel and help Warner Bros. launch their own Marvel-esque shared cinematic universe. Given that Nolan helped enlist Zack Snyder to help Man of Steel and produced it, it made sense. But it wasn’t meant to be. Despite our “truckload of cash” theories on the Screen Rant Underground podcast, Bale was actually hanging up the cape and cowl and moving on to other things in his career.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss suiting up as Bruce Wayne. In fact, it sounds like he does regret stepping away just a little bit – a feeling that really kicked in when news broke that Ben Affleck would be taking over the iconic role and portraying another version of Batman in the Man of Steel followup, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Speaking with Empire, Bale reflected on the reality that his time as The Dark Knight is truly over.

“I’ve got to admit initially, even though I felt that it was the right time to stop, there was always a bit of me going, ‘Oh go on… Let’s do another.’ So when I heard there was someone else doing it, there was a moment where I just stopped and stared into nothing for half an hour.”

“But I’m 40. The fact that I’m jealous of someone else playing Batman…I think I should have gotten over it by now. I haven’t spoken with Ben, but I emailed him offering bits of advice that I learned the hard way. I would imagine he is doing everything he can to avoid anything that I did.”

It’s a bit of shame that The Dark Knight series didn’t continue into Man of Steel (despite continuity issues that may have raised) but Nolan’s plan from the beginning was to keep his trilogy in its own self-contained universe so he could tell his own complete story. And despite your feelings on TDKR, he did just that.

Going forward, Batman fans have much to look forward to because Batfleck is going to be around for a long while. Batman V Superman is just the beginning of his career as Mr. Wayne as he will portray the character again in (at least) a pair of Justice League movies and a new, standalone Batman movie. The latter sits without an official release date or title but was confirmed by Warner Bros. We’ve long predicted Affleck could direct a feature in the DC Entertainment franchise and I wouldn’t be surprised if he helms his own Batman solo project. It’s too good of an opportunity for him and the studio to pass up.

Are you happy Bale stepped away when he did or would you have liked to see his version of Batman in the DC shared universe going forward?

NEXT: Why Superhero Crossover Event Movies Need to Happen

Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.

Sources: DeadlineWSJ

Source: Empire (via CBM)