I truly don’t know that we’re ever going to see another Batman movie. It would be purely that [Christopher Nolan] would need to find a story that was good enough. and if he couldn’t find that it wouldn’t happen.
The prevailing rumor has been that Nolan’s original plan called for The Joker to feature heavily in a third film’s plot, but with the passing of Heath Ledger, whom won an Academy Award for the role, those plans came to a halt. Nolan is reluctant to recast the role, understandably, and so he is left without a story idea he likes.
While Bale is under contract for a third film, Nolan is not. So I hate to break the news to Bale, but, yes, we will indeed see a third film. As Box Office Mojo shows, The Dark Knight grossed $533,345,358 domestic, and $468,576,467 internationally for a total of $1,001,921,825 on a $185 million dollar budget. There is no way there will not be a third Batman film, and it will indeed star Bale unless he finds a way to weasel out of his contract. The only reason I don’t think there has been any official word on it yet is that Warner Brothers wants to have an official refusal from Nolan as there is no reason to break up a successful team if they don’t have to.
The only other problem right now is Nolan’s latest project, Inception, which is due for release on July 16, 2010. With pre-production time, there is no way Nolan would be ready to shoot a third Batman until 2011, meaning that the film would be released in summer 2012 at the earliest, a full 4 years since The Dark Knight.
This is an interesting parallel between the last series of Batman films and this one. After Batman Returns, both Michael Keaton and Tim Burton walked away from the series, and we were award with Batman Forever and Batman & Robin being directed by Joel Schumacher. I don’t think I have to remind any one just how badly that turned out. So there is a definite precedent with this character of the fact you shouldn’t mess with success.
I think there are a ton of story ideas that could work for the third film, and they could fit in perfectly with what we were left with at the end of The Dark Knight, as weall as the more realistic world Batman inhabits in these films. One of my regular readers named Jack made an excellent argument in the comments of my post about The Dark Knight passing $1 billion box office for a “Hunt the Batman” motif. He was a fugitive at the end of the third film, why not make the Batman himself the “villain” of the third film even as he attempts to save the city from itself? Could Bruce Wayne continue to reason that saving a city that wants his head is really worth it?
Another friend of mine even suggested how they could use the well-known villain The Penguin without it being over the top. These films have set up a large mob syndicate operates in Gotham, why not make him the new mob guy who moves in to town and just happens to like wearing tuxedos? This would lead to him being called “The Penguin” in crime circles, and you could keep the bird motif of the character. No need for him to be the mutated freak he is usually shown as.
There are a lot of possabilities still out there, and hopefully Nolan will reconsider once he has some more space between himself and the second film.