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What does the future hold for Batman, the 'Dark Knight' saga and the Justice League?

By Jeffrey Peterson

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 1 2012 1:37 p.m. MDT

Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."

Ron Phillips, Warner Bros.

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For better or worse, Hollywood studios are becoming increasingly adept at stretching out their major franchises, whether it’s endless sequels or prequels or just splitting books into multiple parts — first with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” then “Breaking Dawn” and “Mockingjay.” Just recently, news surfaced that Peter Jackson’s two-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” looks like it’s going to end up being three parts instead.

Every indication, though, is that — in a completely spoiler-free way — this really is the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman. Both director and star Christian Bale have been vocal about making this the last movie in the "Dark Knight" saga. Nolan even went so far as to bid a very public farewell to the character by way of introduction to the newly released book “The Art and Making of the Dark Knight Trilogy.”

While Nolan’s vision for the "Dark Knight" has come to an end, however, that doesn’t mean audiences shouldn’t expect more Batman films in the not-so-distant future.

Although in a different form, the Caped Crusader’s return to multiplexes is almost inevitable — if for no other reason than because Batman has proven to be one of Warner Bros.’ most lucrative properties. According to Box Office Mojo, the franchise has collectively generated around $3 billion in global box office earnings since Tim Burton’s 1989 iteration of the brooding hero.

As early as March of last year, in fact, studio chief Jeff Robinov revealed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that a reboot of the character was already in the planning stages, saying, “We have the third Batman (“The Dark Knight Rises”), but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman.” When asked, he confirmed that he was referring specifically to rebooting the character.

At the time, Robinov also mentioned that Christopher Nolan and producing partner/wife Emma Thomas would be overseeing the Caped Crusader’s post-“Dark Knight Rises” direction as producers, shepherding a new generation of Batman films — not unlike what they’ve done with “Man of Steel,” a redo of the Superman mythos coming out next summer.

This, at least, no longer appears to be the case.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press where he was asked if he had plans to remain involved with future Batman movies, Nolan said, “No, none at all. ... (“The Dark Knight Rises”) is the end of our take on the character. ... Batman will outlive us all, and our interpretation was ours. ... Warners will have to decide in the future what they’re going to do with him.”

Unfortunately for fans, Nolan also quashed rumors that he would take over the reins of the DC universe for the Justice League movie, which would see Batman joining forces with Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash and several lesser-known characters.

Even though Nolan won’t be involved in any capacity, the Justice League movie looks like it’s closer to fruition than ever before thanks to the overwhelming success of Marvel’s “The Avengers” earlier this year. Just recently, Warner Bros. announced that it had hired “Gangster Squad” scribe Will Beall (who also happens to be a former LAPD homicide detective) to pen the script for an unspecified release date.

In many ways, the decision to move forward with a team-up of DC’s heroes will largely determine the future direction of "The Dark Knight."

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