There has been speculation about Chris Nolan's future with the DC Comics Movie Universe long before his Batman trilogy finale, The Dark Knight Rises, started taking shape. A few years back, Nolan and his Batman story writer David S. Goyer collaborated on the story and script for the Superman reboot Man of Steel, which Nolan was at one time rumored to direct. When that didn't pan out, it was then whispered that the Inception filmmaker could act as a shepherd for DC/Warner Bros. movie universe - even going so far as to direct the studio's long-stalled Justice League film.
However, Nolan is now hinting that after Dark Knight Rises, he will be done playing in the DC superhero sandbox.
As the acclaimed writer/director/producer said when asked if he has plans to step in and handle Justice League:
“No, none at all... We’re finished with all we’re doing with Batman. This is the end of our take on this character.”
With news that DC/WB is working on the script for a new Justice Leauge movie (as opposed to the defunct version that almost came to be back in the late 2000s), it's clear that DC superheroes are going to be put to use in shared universe fashion. Nolan firmly re-iterating that his take on Batman will end with Dark Knight Rises would suggest that he is indeed stepping away from the Justice League project, and the DC Movie Universe (DCMU) as a whole.
We know that DC/WB is debating internally whether to reboot characters like Batman and Green Lantern, who have already had autonomous cinematic outings (to contrasting degrees of success), while Man of Steel would serve as the official beginning to the DCMU. Nolan's quote suggests that at least the Dark Knight will be getting a reboot to better fit in a shared universe - or (if the studio is (foolish? Brave?) enough, they would takeover use of the Nolan Batman without the director's input (that is, IF the character survives Dark Knight Rises).
However, it would be presumptuous to call this matter closed. For one thing, Chris Nolan's creative partners on the Batman trilogy - David S. Goyer and brother Jonathan Nolan - are still on hand to help shape the DCMU in similar fashion to what they did with Batman - and it's even been previously hinted that Chris could use some of his clout to get Jonathan into a director's chair on some DC/WB project. That would keep the "Nolan influence" alive and well within the DCMU.
Furthermore, there is still the pivotal factor of Man of Steel: Internet bloggers have speculated for months now that if the Superman reboot is a success at the box office (and with fans), then players like MoS director Zack Snyder will be tapped to build a larger DCMU - as Marvel has done with Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon. However, if Man of Steel isn't welcomed as warmly as the studio hopes, I don't think any of us would be surprised to see Warner Bros. driving truckloads of cash up to Chris Nolan's doorstep, asking for continued guidance in building their superhero world. With Batman already a billion-dollar box office draw (and huge profits on the horizon for Dark Knight Rises), it would be doubtful that DC/WB would let their power player go at a time they need him most - not without a hefty bribe, at least.
Of course, with Nolan able to make big money off of his own original work (see: Inception), there's no real leverage for the enigmatic filmmaker to do anything else besides what he bloody well wants to - and there plenty of studios who would be willing to give him a home.
The Dark Knight Rises in theaters on July 20, 2012. We'll keep you updated on all other DC movie news.