Where Does Batman Go From Here?

I figure that enough time has passed since the opening of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and enough people have seen the film that we can discuss the ending of the movie and what it means for the future of the Batman franchise. What follows will openly reveal major plot spoilers about ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. If you haven’t yet seen the grand finale to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, go do that now and come back before reading.

We know that the Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies are over, but we also know that Warner Bros. plans to tell a new Batman story in the future. Just as he he’s doing for Zack Snyder’s new Superman flick, ‘The Man of Steel’, Nolan will “oversee” all of Warner’s DC comic book movies, but not necessarily direct. Until recently, it was assumed that the Batman series would go through yet another reboot. But after the final shot of ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘, I don’t think that was ever the studio’s intention.

Think back to the last image shown in the movie. Detective Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) follows a GPS code that was mysteriously provided to him. Where does it lead him? Through the waterfall, right into the heart of Bruce Wayne’s secret Batcave. Blake, who we just learned was given the name Robin at birth, stands on a rising platform that we earlier saw as the location where Wayne stores his Batman suit. Cue the credits.

Upon exiting the theater, a group of my friends were convinced that this final shot was the set-up for a Robin series. I have a feeling that’s what everyone thinks initially, because it’s the natural response. Personally, I don’t think that Nolan or Warner will take the franchise in that direction right now. Mind you, the opinion that I’m about to give is in no way backed up by any sort of insider information. This is simply where I believe (and hope) the story will go.

Why in the world would this cliffhanger ending be in the film if there wasn’t a plan to follow through with it? This is a set-up, and I highly doubt that it would be included in the film without a plan for pay-off. We know that Warner is going to make another Batman movie in a few years, but I don’t believe the studio could pump out a solo Robin adventure before then. If DC wants to set up a Justice League crossover movie on the heels of the success of Marvel’s ‘The Avengers’, there’s no way it can establish the sidekick before the hero.

I believe that Gordon-Levitt will put on the Batman suit. After all, in many Batman comic book storylines, the Robin character has donned the iconic suit. If my prediction is true, and Gordon-Levitt becomes the next Batman, then the next franchise is already set up and ready to go. After Bruce Wayne’s back is broken in ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, a large section of the film shifts the focus to Blake. I believe that is the introduction to the character that we need in order to see the entire franchise move to him for the next movie. The reboot that we thought we’d get all along won’t be a reboot in the traditional sense.

Remember, ever since Rachel told Bruce in the second-to-last scene of ‘Batman Begins‘ that she wouldn’t start a relationship with him until the Batman was gone, Bruce has been looking for a way out, an exit strategy. Bruce Wayne wanted to place Gotham in the hands of a worthy caretaker. In ‘The Dark Knight‘, that successor was supposed to be Harvey Dent. Dent’s death provided a temporary season without need for the Batman, but ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ shows how fleeting that relief was. In the process of saving Gotham one last time, Wayne met Blake, a kid who grew up under the exact same circumstances he did, who possesses the same sentiments and desires for justice. Finally, Bruce has found his replacement in a younger version of himself. It’s eight years too late to realize his dream life with Rachel, but a dream come true nonetheless. Wayne doesn’t have to be the Batman anymore. Aging and worn down, Wayne takes off the bat-suit for the last time.

If my theory comes true, we should get a new Batman movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing the Caped Crusader in two or three years. Assuming that ‘Man of Steel’ is a success, it will only be another year or two after that before Warner gives us the ‘The Justice League’. With Christopher Nolan at the helm, I can easily see this prediction becoming a quick reality.

Now that you know my take on the final shot of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and my predictions for what’s to come, what do you think? Will Blake be the new Batman? Do you agree? Disagree? Where do you think the franchise is going?


  1. Drew

    Those were my exact thoughts, Luke. Learning that his given birth name is Robin was just a big wink.

    I would almost guarantee that Gordon-Levitt will be suiting up as Batman, very soon.

  2. I just took it as nice way of following through with Wayne’s own words (which I’m going to paraphrase) that “Batman is a symbol” & “Batman could be anyone.” No one wants the franchise ending with the death of Batman so it’s Nolan’s way saying that even though the franchise might be ending that Batman still endures.

  3. M. Enois Duarte

    It’s possible he could be the next Batman — it’s a nice thought and a good way to continue the franchise. But seeing as how the three stories by Nolan and his brother are more in line with the Frank Miller/Alan Moore universe of the Dark Knight rather than the traditional Caped Crusader, I’d like to think Nolan has some grander in mind.

    Since Blake’s given name is Robin and Wayne’s Batman costume is obviously entirely black, I think Blake is destined to become Nightwing. The Batman name and theme will continue in the franchise, but I can see the storyline following this character, fighting villains like Torque, Deathstroke or the return of Scarecrow.

  4. JM

    (1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 5’9″, 140#. He could maybe play Batgirl.

    (2) The next Batman will first appear in the ‘Justice League’ film, played by a cheap/unknown actor, then be spun off into stand-alone films.

    (3) A clean reboot is the only way to fight diminishing returns, to refresh the style and reset the rogues’ gallery.

    **** It’s a cinematic tragedy that Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller‘s adaptation of ‘Batman: Year One’ starring Clint Eastwood never got made.

    • JezR

      By your reasoning in point #1 Tom Hardy couldn’t play Bane either. That turned out fantastically. Film makers have a few tricks up their sleeves to get around such things.

      • JM

        Tom Hardy as Bane was 5’10”, 200#.

        Joseph Gordon-Levitt couldn’t fill out Alicia Silverstone’s old outfit.

        • Barsoom Bob

          JM you are one of the more interesting participants on this site.

          Your fact checking skills are beyond awesome.

          You have some eclectic tastes, that also is great.

          But when you start making judgemental comments in discussions, with people who have actually seen the films, and you have not, you lose a lot of credibility.

          It surprised the hell out of me, but JGL looked more buff, more imposing, more no nonsense than Christian Bale on his best day, even using his best scarey growl-y voice.

          • JM

            Like it or not, movies are greenlit by math and intuition.

            Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t have the center of gravity to carry a superhero movie. Put him on a poster, put him in a trailer, it just doesn’t sell. The guy needed Seth Rogen to get ’50/50′ up to $35M.

            If you want to read the tea leaves differently, I have nothing but respect for alternative opinions. I only post if I feel a point-of-view is being under-represented.

            Maybe my thoughts will evolve when I netflix TDKR for $1.

            But if I’m betting money today, based on the laws of film financing, I’m putting it all on a clean reboot.

  5. Jason

    Though I’d love to see a Nightwing movie I don’t think the studios will take a chance on a little known character for fear of not cashing in. Even with the success of Iron Man even less people know who Nightwing is. I believe the studio will reboot Batman entirely. Especially with the current events that are now forever tied to TDKR.

  6. Alex

    I think the key may lie, oddly, in “The Amazing Spider-Man”. While the new Spidey flick is a long way from generating the kind of returns that the original trilogy brought in, it did prove that audiences are willing to go for a reboot fairly soon after ending of an iconic series.

    If Amazing Spider-man had completely tanked (and it didn’t), they would have kept going with Blake as either Batman or as Nightwing within the “Nolan-verse”. Now, I suspect they will do a full reboot.

    • Alex

      Thing is, Amazing Spider-Man tried to go darker with the character. I don’t think it’s getting any darker and grittier than the Nolan Trilogy. I hope they don’t pull a 180 and try to do a “Batman: The Brave and the Bold”-type of film. It will turn into camp far too fast.

  7. RollTide1017

    I didn’t know that Nolan was going to oversee all of WB’s DC Comic movies.

    I had the same thought about Robin taking over as Batman with Bruce in the “Alfred” role, if they can convince Bale to come back for more movies. I doubt Bale would come back for just an “Alfred” type role but, I think it would be an interesting move.

  8. Andy G

    I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think this is how Nolan wanted it to END. Just because he hints at a future, it does not mean he plans for that future to be seen. That being said, I agree with the author’s analysis of the ending, and I’d be okay if this happened, but it’s not going to happen under Nolan’s direction, and possibly no involvement whatsoever. I don’t know where you came up with the idea that Nolan’s going to oversee all future DC comic movies, as far as I know only The Man of Steel has his involvement and I haven’t heard of any announcements of any deals for future involvement.

  9. Bruce

    Plus, theirs more heros besides superman and batman is justice league. Where’s the wonder woman flick, aqua man, flash flick. You need more stand alone flicks besides the main two to due the justice league justice …. They have to follow the marvel model if they want it to be as successful ..

  10. Jon D

    It could go either way. Nolan appears to have set up a potential continuation of his seris, but it remains to be seen if Warner Brothers will do it. I suspect that a reboot would be the easier and more likely route for them, as originality is in preciously short supply and as “Amazing Spider Man” proved, people will pay money to see a 10 year old movie retold with only minor cosmetic changes.

    • Jason

      agreed. Batman now needs something totally different. otherwise everything the next director does will be compared to Nolan. I’d love to see a reboot of the Batman television series. Total camp. Total fun.

  11. K. R. J.

    Lots of comments about a JLA movie. DC doesn’t usually copy Marvel, and there’s really no need to start now. World’s Finest pairs Batman and Superman – without the others. The animated World’s Finest is one of my favorite Batman flicks of all time.

  12. Barsoom Bob

    I’m with Luke on this one. That was exactly my interpretation of the ending and I wouldn’t have a problem with that.

    Even more surprising than Anne Hathaway pulling off a pretty sexy, cool Selina Kyle was the buffed up, no nonsense Joseph Gordon Levit character of John Blake.

    Do we really need to sit through another Batman film with his parents getting killed etc. We have a new canidate, suitably put in place, who has as much gravitas and believability as Christian Bale brought to the role. Give it to a new director and screnwriting team, Nolan ran out of inspiration for this one, and off we go. I’d buy that for $13.50 (current local movie ticket price)

  13. motorheadache

    I’m predicting that there will be a reboot– it will still be dark and gritty, but the overall tone and style will be more like the comic books. This Batman will be the one that they can pull off fitting into a future Justice League film.

    That doesn’t mean they will do another Batman Begins-style origin reboot, but it may be in the same awkward position as Amazing Spider-Man to have some of those same story beats.

  14. Luke

    I think the ending fit the Dark Knight metanarrative which says, “Batman is a symbol of justice in Gotham.” The story continues even if Bruce Wayne is no longer. I think that’s what Robin brings at the end – a sense of the Batman legacy continuing. That being said I think it’s a perfect ending to a trilogy and I see no more films in the DK seris.

  15. Shayne Blakeley

    Finally got to see it yesterday (finally.) Thankfully saw it IMAX which I wasn’t counting on, so it was worth the wait. I agree with the various posters who say that the ending was meant to reinforce the “symbol” element, not as a set up to a continuation of the series. Despite how successful the series was, and how many people are clamoring for more, I just can’t believe that the studio would be comfortable with a Bruce Wayne-less Batman franchise. As for moving in to the Justice League, I don’t think they have a choice but go for a full reboot. Trying to shoehorn the other DC heroes and villains into this particular established universe would be awkward at best, and would waste the opportunity to build a unique shared vision from the get-go like Marvel did.