Warning: The following article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the ending of The Dark Knight Rises.

After the release of The Dark Knight Rises, speculation immediately centered around the post-film escapades of John “Robin” Blake (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Would the character take-on the recently vacated role of Gotham’s protector as Batman, Nightwing, Robin, or some combination of the three?

Months later and we’re no closer to a concrete answer regarding the future adventures of John Blake but a recent interview with actor Michael Caine has shed light on the finale’s other point of contention: did now-retired butler Alfred actually see Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle alive and well at that cafe in Florence or was he dreaming?

Most moviegoers took the Florence cafe scene at face value, accepting that Bruce Wayne had faked his own death in order to disappear into regular life, and pass the Gotham superhero role to Blake. An equally telling exchange between Lucius Fox and a set of Wayne Enterprises engineers discussing Wayne’s implementation of a life-saving software patch for The Bat vehicle further corroborates a literal interpretation of Alfred’s “Happily Ever After” encounter in Florence.

Still, plenty of viewers weren’t convinced – possibly still reeling from Nolan’s open-ended Inception conclusion (read our explanation of that ending) – refusing to accept that Wayne made it out of Gotham alive. In this interpretation of the ending, Alfred wouldn’t actually see his former master and friend, he was merely seeing what he wanted to see.

However, Caine has officially set the record straight (in an interview with Hero Complex):

They were there. They were real. There was no imagination. They were real and he was with Anne, the cat lady, and I was happy ever after for him as I told him during the picture.

Caine doesn’t really elaborate on any conversations with Nolan about the scene – so it’s not entirely clear whether or not this is solely the actor’s take on the ending or a definitive explanation. However, while some viewers will certainly disagree, Caine’s explanation is not that surprising – given that, as mentioned, the evidence certainly points to the interpretation that Wayne survived and, at the very least, vacationed with Catwoman to Europe.

That said, what might surprise fans of the series is the possibility that Caine is interested in reprising his Alfred role in the Justice League movie (or future Batman installments) – even if Nolan isn’t directing. When asked directly about the possibility of an Alfred appearance in Justice League, the actor stated:

I said to Chris, “If they do it again and they ask me to be the Butler, I’m going to do it.” He said, “I want 10%.”

Given that Caine tosses in Nolan’s tongue-in-cheek 10% finder’s fee line, it’s clear that the actor is open to the idea of returning for the role and, unlike Bale, doesn’t see a new Batman director or possibly a new Justice League team-up storyline as a deal-breaker.

How exactly Wayne’s butler would fit into the larger Justice League universe, which will also be tasked with introducing an iconic team of superheroes, makes for fun speculation but, at this point, there’s no reason to think he’s even being considered. Similarly, Nolan has directly stated that he is not coming back for future Batman installments – though that doesn’t necessarily prevent DC from continuing to tell stories in the Batman Begins movie universe.

Maybe John Blake will recruit Alfred to help him turn on the bat computer?

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Justice League as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.

The Dark Knight Rises is currently available on DVD/Blu-ray.

Justice League is scheduled for release in 2015.

Source: Hero Complex