As if anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t already at a fever pitch, director Christopher Nolan has now proclaimed in no uncertain terms that he will not be directing a fourth Batman film.

Though he and others, including star Christian Bale, have hinted at this eventuality for some time, Nolan’s recent statement has finally eliminated any ambiguity on the subject. It seems TDKR will be the last opportunity for fans of the series to witness Nolan’s unique interpretation of the Batman mythos, which will no doubt heighten the film’s audience anticipation even further.

According to Deadline, Nolan made the announcement during an appearance at the annual Produced By Conference. He explained that, though he never knew exactly where his Batman saga would lead, he had always envisioned the character’s story arc as a trilogy. He went on to say that he didn’t want to hold anything back in terms of plot in this third and final installment, including loose ends that are necessary to justify a sequel.

It’s refreshing to see a filmmaker manage to garner so much commercial success while still sticking to his guns creatively. So much of Hollywood’s bread and butter seems to come from unnecessary sequels these days. Practically every time a film performs well at the box office, it feels like the studios strip mine it of all its originality in order to manufacture a franchise, regardless of whether or not the original movie actually warranted a sequel (or prequel). There’s a time and a place for truly justified plot continuations, but SIX Pirates of the Caribbean movies, for example, seems excessive at best, and at worst, cynical – at least, in this writer’s opinion.

Of course, TDKR is a sequel, but after the (nearly) universally loved The Dark Knight, can anyone call it unjustified? Besides, there’s a big difference between concluding a story arc and ruining an entirely self-contained film by tacking on a forced sequel purely for the sake of profit. The bottom line: Christopher Nolan is committed enough to his creative craft to wrap this series up in a dignified manner, even if he hasn’t squeezed every last drop of monetary value out of it.

Anyway, it’s not as if Nolan’s entire career is tied to his Batman franchise. He broke into the film industry in a big way with his acclaimed psychological thriller, Memento (2000). Later, he left Gotham City to pursue other successful cinematic ventures with The Prestige in 2006 and Inception in 2010, the latter of which received much critical praise, not to mention strong box office returns.

Therefore, as tough as it is to accept that TDKR will mark the end of Nolan’s wonderful superhero saga, it will be intriguing to see where the filmmaker decides to go from here.

The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters July 20th.

Source: Deadline [via IndieWire]