The real reason why Christopher Nolan never returned to direct 4th Batman film; Christian Bale was told his ‘services were no longer required’
Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films changed the superhero movie landscape, and their influence can still be felt today. But Nolan and star Christian Bale were given the opportunity to return for a fourth Batman movie, and both said ‘no’.
Bale in a 2019 interview had said that the duo’s goal was always to take it one film at a time, and concentrate on making that film the best that it could be. And when the movies began raking in the money and drawing critical acclaim, they were given the chance to continue the story.
He told Toronto Sun, “We knew we had to reinvent it. I literally had people laugh at me when I told them we were doing a new kind of Batman. I think that the reason it worked was first and foremost Chris’ take on it. But also we never were arrogant to assume that we had an opportunity beyond one film at a time.”
The actor continued, “That’s something that Chris always would talk about. He’d say, ‘This is it. We’re making one film. That’s all we’ve got.’ Then when they came and said, ‘You want to go make another?’ It was fantastic, but we still said, ‘This is it. We will not get another opportunity.’ Then they came and they said, ‘OK, let’s do a third one.’ Chris had always said to me that if we were fortunate to be able to make three we would stop. ‘Let’s walk away after that.’”
Nolan directed Bale in three Batman films -- Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. The third film teased a possible continuation for the story, with Bruce Wayne having survived and passed on the baton to Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character.
Bale continued, “Then when they inevitably came to us and said, ‘How about a No. 4?’ I said, ‘No. We have to stick to Chris’ dream, which was always to, hopefully, do a trilogy. Let’s not stretch too far and become overindulgent and go for a fourth. That’s why we, well Chris, stepped away.” After that, the actor laughed, “I was informed my services were no longer required.”
At a 2012 conference, Nolan flat-out rejected the idea of making a fourth Batman film. “We never had a specific trajectory,” Nolan said. “I wanted to put everything into making one great film, I didn’t want to hold anything back.”
The character was rebooted in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, in which actor Ben Affleck put on the cape and cowl for a more world-weary take on the character. Nolan, in a conversation with BAFTA, seemingly offered a comparison between his films, and the follow-ups, and said that filmmakers nowadays aren’t given as much time to create their movies. He said he was afforded “the luxury of time.” He continued, “That’s a privilege and a luxury that filmmakers aren’t afforded anymore. I think it was the last time that anyone was able to say to a studio, ‘I might do another one, but it will be four years’. There’s too much pressure on release schedules to let people do that now but creatively it’s a huge advantage. We had the privilege and advantage to develop as people and as storytellers and then bring the family back together.”
Nolan has since directed the science-fiction epic Interstellar and the war film Dunkirk. His next movie, Tenet, is currently slated for a July release. Bale will reportedly return to superhero films with a villainous role in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Batman will be rebooted a second time after Bale’s exit in 2021, when Robert Pattinson steps into the role in Matt Reeves’ film. Bale expressed excitement about Pattinson’s casting. “Good choice!” Bale told Variety. “He’s interesting.” Asked if he had any advice for Pattinson, Bale said, “Just be able to pee by yourself. You don’t feel like a superhero when you aren’t able to piss by yourself.”
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