Now that director Christopher Nolan has completed his trilogy of Batman films
with the arrival of "The Dark Knight Rises," the question has naturally
come up: what happens next?
After all, just because Nolan has finished his story, that doesn't mean we've
seen the last of the Caped Crusader on the big screen. There's no doubt, in
fact, that he will be back. Nolan's movies have been an incredibly successful
enterprise, and Batman remains the most lucrative screen property in the DC
Comics canon (only Superman comes close).
No matter how "The Dark Knight Rises" ends up faring at the box office when
all is said and done -- and it does seem that the horrifying events in Colorado
two weeks ago will end up having an effect on its total grosses -- it will still
be a wildly successful movie for Warner Bros., which has a tremendous interest
in keeping Batman in the public eye for years to come. The question is, how does
the company make that happen?
Well, there are three or four major ways we can think of, and before we
discuss them, we should warn you that the following will contain major spoilers
for "The Dark Knight Rises." So if you haven't seen the movie yet, stop reading
here. Okay? We've warned you...
The first and seemingly most obvious way to go would be to keep future Batman
movies in the Nolan universe, even if Nolan himself isn't involved directly as a
writer and director (but perhaps as a producer). Although everyone involved went
to great lengths to say that "The Dark Knight Rises" was the end of this story,
there was clearly enough left open-ended at the finish of the film to allow
several threads to be picked up.
First of all, Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale) isn't dead. He has simply retired
for good, somewhere in Italy. Could he be persuaded to return to Gotham once
again and fight yet another menace to the city? We suppose that depends on how
much money the studio would be willing to offer Bale even though he's said he's
done with the character as well. Frankly, this is the least likely possibility:
it does feel like Bale won't be back in the cape and cowl.
However, he's left them to someone else -- namely John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the good cop who is given a
map and the keys to the Batcave at the conclusion of the film, where we also
find out that his real name is Robin. That's just a little fan service; we won't
be seeing Blake pulling on the yellow, green and red costume any time soon. But
the name does signify that Blake has become a worthy ally and eventual successor
to Wayne as Gotham's protector.
When we see Blake ascend into the Batcave at the end of the movie, the
message is quite clear: anyone can carry on the Batman mantle and legacy.