After the critical and box office flop of Batman & Robin brought the '80s and '90s Batman series to an end, Christopher Nolan stepped in to bring Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) to life again on the big screen with Batman Begins in 2005. Bale starred as the Caped Crusader in all three of Nolan's Batman films, which included The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Night Rises in 2012.
The character of Batman will receive another reboot - with Ben Affleck donning the cape and cowl - in Zach Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film will pave the way for Warner Bros.'s entire DC Extended Universe that is currently planned to include a solo Batman film as well as a two-part Justice League feature. In a recent interview, Bale reflected on his performance as the Dark Knight and whether he'd ever return to the role.
While speaking to Yahoo Movies about his new film Knight of Cups, Bale talked about his turn as Batman, discussing that he used the batsuit as the physical expression of Bruce Wayne's "true monstrous self" and described Batman as "just this very, very, very dark messed up character." Additionally, Bale spoke about how he felt his performance didn't quite live up to what he wanted to do - or what Heath Ledger achieved in his role as The Joker:
"Heath turned up and just kinda completely ruined all my plans because I went, 'He's so much more interesting than me and what I'm doing.' … And so I sort of go, 'Eh I know I didn't quite manage what I hoped I would through the trilogy.' Chris did, but my own sense of self is like, 'I didn't quite nail it.'"
Of course, many fans appreciated what Bale achieved in his turn as Batman throughout Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy - so much so that some hoped he would return for either/both Batman V Superman and Justice League. But, Bale has since shared that he doesn't believe there should be an overlap between Nolan's Batman and the Dark Knight of Snyder's Batman V Superman. Additionally, on whether he'd ever return to the role of Bruce Wayne, Bale gave an answer of finality to Yahoo Movies:
"That's enough, enough's enough. We did our thing, it's done. I got nothing else to offer it."
So, though Bale may be underwhelmed with his own performance as Batman in Nolan's trilogy, it seems the superhero isn't one role to which the actor would like to return even if it meant giving himself more closure. Of course, despite Bale's lackluster sense of his performance, his turn in The Dark Knight is beloved by fans and the most definitive according to many viewers.
That being said, many might agree that Bale may not believe he nailed the part - certainly given the number of jokes made about his Batman voice - or that Nolan's incarnation of the hero wasn't true to the spirit of the DC Comics. But, the fact remains that Bale's version of the character will be the one to which Affleck's take will be measured. No matter Bale's thoughts on his performance as Batman, the new Dark Knight has big shoes to fill in the eyes of many fans.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice opens on March 25, 2016, which is followed by Suicide Squad on August 5, 2016; Wonder Woman on June 23, 2017; Justice League Part One on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League Part Two on June 14, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps. on June 19, 2020.