It seems like just yesterday that the first words of Warner Bros.' plan to use Man of Steel as a launchpad for a Justice League universe appeared. And not long after, the question of whether the most recent Batman, Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) would reprise his role became the hottest topic of conversation among comic book fans. It was an idea that proved... divisive, to say the least.
With some claiming it would undercut all the meaning of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, and others claiming insider knowledge that Bale was being actively sought by Warner Bros. to ensure a blockbuster opening. Now, the actor has set the record straight himself.
At the time the rumor mill was running at full speed, we doubted the claims of exorbitant paydays for Bale, with the actor soon claiming that he knew of Batman V Superman's plans, but hadn't received an offer - and doubted that he would take it. Since then, Bale admitted being somewhat jealous of Ben Affleck taking up the cowl, but in an interview with Esquire, he revealed that his past denials weren't a performance.
Bale put the final nail in the 'was he ever in the running' coffin when asked if there was ever any truth that the Welsh actor was up for the part of James Bond:
"No. I’ve never heard of that. Equally untrue about them coming to me for Batman, before Ben Affleck... I think it’s the right decision. People were talking about this obscene amount of money they were saying was thrown at me. No. I didn’t have a single conversation with anybody about ever playing the role again."
In hindsight, Bale's words seem easier to believe than they did for some at the time. It's unlikely that hearing Warner Bros. never even considered bringing the actor back to the series will ease the suffering of those who would've preferred Bale to Affleck, but the choice has Nolan's seal of approval. Though Bale admitted in the interview that he hasn't seen another comic book movie since his days as the caped crusader, there's no question he helped shape the current approach to comic book blockbusters.
It's impossible to tell what influences Bale and Nolan's vision may have on Snyder and Affleck's (though it sounds like neither is keen to imitate it), but the recent unveiling of the studio's shared universe plans drives a single point home: the DC movie universe under construction was never meant to carry Bale's Batman forward. There's a fresh start coming for WB and DC, with Affleck introducing a Dark Knight for a new age, facing off against a brand new Joker in Jared Leto (with a new Harley Quinn, to boot).
Hopefully now this lingering mystery can be put to rest for good, leaving those who wonder 'what might have been' to accept that they're trying to imagine 'what was likely never planned.' It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's closure all the same.
What do you think of WB's decision to leave Bale and Nolan's Batman behind when moving onto their shared Justice League universe? Does it give you confidence knowing the studio never wavered in their decision to start fresh, or do you still think Bale's return would have been the best decision overall?
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice will be in theaters on March 25, 2016.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for updates on Batman V Superman as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.