Former Batman Christian Bale Says a Fourth Dark Knight Film Would Have Been “Overindulgent”

Ex-Batman star Christian Bale says a pact with The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan [...]

Ex-Batman star Christian Bale says a pact with The Dark Knight trilogy director Christopher Nolan prevented their teaming for a fourth film when approached by studio Warner Bros. Moving forward on another film after 2012's trilogy closer The Dark Knight Rises, which co-starred Tom Hardy as the villainous Bane and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, would have been "overindulgent," says Bale, who adds Nolan approached the series one film at a time when planning a trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises was once the highest-grossing film inspired by DC Comics, earning $1.085 billion worldwide, until it was unseated by Aquaman in early 2019.

"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," Bale told the Toronto Sun when promoting Ford v Ferrari. "But also we never were arrogant to assume that we had an opportunity beyond one film at a time. 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.'"

Nolan and Bale relaunched the caped crusader in 2005's Batman Begins. In 2008, their sequel, The Dark Knight, won widespread critical acclaim and grossed more than a billion dollars at the global box office. For Nolan and Bale, nothing was guaranteed beyond the 2005 reboot.

"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,'" Bale said. "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,' he said."

Rises ended with Batman, believed dead and immortalized as Gotham City's greatest savior, passing the torch to cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

"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,'" Bale said. "That's why we, well Chris, stepped away. After that I was informed my services were no longer required [laughs]."

Warner Bros. rebooted Batman again, this time played by Ben Affleck, in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as part of a continuity shared by Wonder Woman, Justice League and Aquaman. Another, fresher Batman, played by Robert Pattinson, will debut in 2021 in the Matt Reeves-directed The Batman.

In September, Bale said the Pattinson casting is a "good choice."

"He's interesting," Bale told Variety during the Toronto International Film Festival. "I'm sure he'll come up with something interesting."

Ford v Ferrari, also starring Matt Damon and Jon Bernthal, opens Friday.