Nolan, 'Justice League', Bale, Batman... Oh My!

Christian Bale / Christopher Nolan / Justice LeagueSo the new rumor rolling around the mill is that Christopher Nolan will produce the Justice League movie for Warner Bros. with Man of Steel director Zack Snyder also producing and possibly directing. And the final nail in the scenario is that Christian Bale would reprise his role as Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Of course, if you're a fanboy of any respectable standing, your mind if reeling right now. Such a scenario is like a dream come true, but then you stop and read it again and realize all this means is Snyder would possibly direct Bale in a Justice League movie. Snyder's best output to date is his Dawn of the Dead remake, with 300 serving as a green screen experiment that isn't necessarily good, but is still entertaining if you're in the right mood. But Watchmen and Sucker Punch didn't do much for his credibility.

However, the lone early review out of a test screening of Man of Steel suggests Snyder has made something great and he's done so with Nolan producing. If the Warner Bros. brass like what they see and are hearing and are able to keep things moving along and able to do so by keeping Bale as Batman then they really have something on their hands.

The rumor I mention in the opening paragraph comes from Latino Review and when it comes to this kind of rumor I'm likely to believe them more than I believe most. They've sort of staked their fanboy reputation on such rumors and tend to vet their sources well. This isn't to say this rumor is likely to come true, but that I believe there is truth behind it.

One question I have, and maybe comic readers can help me out here, is there any reason they simply couldn't do a Batman and Superman teaming with Bale and Henry Cavill for the first Justice League movie and just hint at the Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and other characters instead of unloading all of them on us at once? To me that sounds like the smartest direction to go.

Man of Steel hits theaters on June 14.

  • Fox

    Hmmm. I always got the impression from his interviews that Christian Bale didn't enjoy playing Batman, or was at least tired of it. I'd be surprised if this turned out to be true.

    That, and I think he's too talented to be playing a comic book hero four times. . .

    • Silrian

      Brad is right that he admitted in an interview he's up for a fourth one if Nolan comes to him with a great story...

      • Fox

        I guess I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope Nolan stays out of this one. My gut feeling was that he was done with Batman, but I guess if there's money on the table he's not going to turn it down.

        • Silrian

          I don't really buy that money-argument. I think Nolan can make whatever he wants now regardless. How easily could Nolan say "Oh, well then I guess I'll just see if a different studio is interested..."!? WB has no leverage on Nolan, I couldn't believe that, his name is worth too much right now.

    • caro

      Bale likes to talk about Batman (but not with the journalists:it's different)

    • Ron Oneal Fresh

      Money talks.

      If Bale gets a idk, 50 million. He's gonna turn that down to do some indie film?

      Yeah right.

  • Alexi D

    I too think that the smartest way forward is with a Superman/Batman team up followed by a Justice League film.

  • Silrian

    Hmmm. I think that 'every fanboy's dream come true' isn't necessarily so. I hear from plenty of people who think Nolan's DK-trilogy should remain solitary and isolated from any other franchises. I don't necessarily take sides in that upfront, but I have to say a lot of questions could be raised about how Nolan approached characters in his films, if all of a sudden that universe did allow super-human abilities. Yes Superman is an alien, so it could still leave Nolan's films relatively unquestioned, but that does not apply to many of the other JLA characters. Especially the already canon Green Lantern film.

    Even though most reasonable people would call me a fanboy when it comes to Nolan and Bale, I'd still prefer a re-cast of Batman. I don't think he needs an origin, that character is established. WB needs to simply use the legacy of Nolan's trilogy to their advantage in not having to establish an origin, and simply let Batman show up. Kind of the same way they did with the Hulk in Avengers. Everybody knows him and what he can do.

    That said, I think it would be interesting to make it a fourpack: Batman is established, Green Lantern is established, MoS establishes Superman and simply use the JLA film for a partial Wonder Woman setup. WB doesn't need to use the formula movie A + B + C = movie ABC setup Marvel uses. They can use those four characters and give them each a solid amount of character development in the JLA film, and make Wonder Woman the central figure of the storyline. The film serves two purposes that way.

    My question would be, if they do use Bale and his universe, would it necessarily have to be a lineair timeline with regards to the DK-trilogy? What about alternate timelines/dimensions?

    • Alexi D

      Maybe Gorden-Levitt could take over the role? Not necessarily have it follow on from TDKR but have it as a link between the two franchises.

      • Silrian

        I LOVE JGL, I would LOVE him as Nightwing, but I sincerely think Batman should be a more intimidating figure. As agressive as JGL can get, Batman needs to be a towering, fear-including powerhouse, else in my opinion the figure loses part of it's initial credibility.

        Love Bale, love JGL, still think a JLA film should be a full reboot of Batman. Saying "Completely forget the stand alone batman films" is I think the most clear thing to do in regards to audiences who might not be so deeply invested in all these story lines.

        The only other option I see is giving JGL that story line where he doesn't keep up and Batman has to return. Kind of a disrespectful storyline to Blake though...

  • cineJAB

    anything to avoid more Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern.

  • Alexi D

    After watching TDKR, and being a huge bat fan, I thought that the trilogy should be left alone. However, I am so, so excited if this does turn out to be true. There is no better creative team (Nolan, Goyer) to try and lift the project(s) of the ground.

  • adu

    So, does Bale's return hurt the ending of TDKR?

  • Cory S.

    This isn't going to work unless Nolan wants to destroy the whole fucking point of his trilogy with that end he concocted for Rises.

    How do you get around that, when his entire trilogy was a finite story about Bruce Wayne's pain?

    This doesn't work.

    • Fox


      Plus I think most people were already getting tired of Nolan's Batman by the end of TDKR. Kind of feels like he's beating a dead horse. I guess it's all about money though. . .

      • Silrian

        I agree. Also, Bale's Batman was far from perfect in the classic Batman sense. I think Batman should be way more flawless to keep up with the JLA. Also way more the brains and tactical insight of the gang, than the inspiring soldier Bale portrayed him as.

        The JLA asks for the DC equivalent of Iron Man, not Captain America, basically.

    • Yaz

      It's a comicbook flick... It's easy. They introduce an issue, and a reason for Batman/Bruce Wayne to come out of hiding/retirement. Yes, the story of Wayne's pain is complete, now a new story begins.

      Not hard. Nolan directed Batman films and made them great, but they're still Batman films. They're still films about a dude dressed up as a Bat taking on larger than life villains.

      Anything goes.

  • caro

    that won't happen: it's only WB's dream

  • Winchester

    This all still sounds like WB desperately flopping around trying to pick up the balls they dropped and catch up with Marvel and the MCU.

    I think it's going to be a smooth ride for them to catch up but wasn't there a previous snippet that (leaving aside Nolan's trilogy) Man of Steel would attempt to act as the kick off film? And that it would really depend on the performance of that film as to whether plans would try and move forward?

    Anyway, I am interested in Man of Steel in spite of Nolan's involvement not because of but personally when it comes to Snyder I would take Watchmen and leave all the rest of his movies alone. Even though I still think the opening sequence was actually a really great music video for 'Sweet Dreams' on it's own.

  • Chris

    I'm cool with this as long as it doesn't impede Nolan from doing Interstellar. We need a reboot of Green Lantern too. I suggest Bradley Coops to play the lead. Then were long over due for a Wonder Woman film.

    • Silrian

      Lol, just as a joke, what if Interstellar WAS a Green Lantern reboot?

      Or to go even more far fetched: what if it was a Crisis on Infinite Earths adaptation?

  • Dan

    Yeah for Nolan producing. Boo for Bale returning. The Dark Knight Trilogy is the high watermark of what you can do with a superhero on film. Introducing Superman into that world negates the threat of Ra's al Ghul, the Joker, and Bane. Any problems face in the films could of easily been dealt with by someone with Superman's powers. Having Bale return with his interpretation of Bruce Wayne/ Batman diminishes all of those accomplishments.

    Nolan producing is a different matter all together. In the last decade you had a great many talented directors from the Indie or B chip tv dramas come into the blockbuster worlds (Nolan, Singer, Jackson, Del Toro, Greengrass, Alfonso Curon, David Yates, Kenneth Branagh, and recently Sam Mendes). For every Batman Nolan made he got a Inception or The Prestige or Interstellar funded. With Potter, Curon got Children of Men and Gravity. Greengrass got United 93 and Greenzone for Bourne. Sadly, this seems to have dried up. Yates and Branagh had a variety or projects put on the backburnner and seem to be stuck with nothing but blockbusters, or maybe they're just raising the capital of their own names.Either way, if you could get a really neat and original studio project funded for doing an intelligent blockbuster, I'd say go for it.

  • Randall P McMurphy

    I really hope this doesn't happen

  • AJ

    They were planning a Superman/Batman team up before they ended up doing "Batman Begins", as I recall. Teaser logos of the Bat symbol and Superman's "S" sheild combined even appear as Times Square advertising in scenes in Will Smith's "I am Legend".

    I will say I have at least some questions about the apparent greatness of "Man of Steel" based on early reaction... mostly because I've now seen three separate sites claim they were *personally* told by someone who had seen it that it was "the film of the summer" or something nearly identical. (Variety and Aint It Cool were at least 2 of those claiming this.) Now either everyone is getting their reaction from the exact same guy who is just in love with his own turn of phrase, or everyone is being fed a line from the marketing department. While this in no way means that the film is *not* good, it certainly comes across as less trustworthy praise each time I hear it.

    I guess my problem with trying to fold Nolan's Batman into this Justice League thing is that they made such a big deal out of keeping Nolan's version of things grounded... Now his Batman is going to go running off to outer space along guys who make glowing green race cars out of magic rings and such?

    • Yaz

      WB's been teasing a World's Finest deal for a long time now (World's Finest meaning Batman/Superman). I think they were going to do this prior to Begins, but dropped it. The I Am Legend reference however, is just a nod to the WB owned franchises. Begins was already out at this point with TDK looking to make it's debut. If you remember, they played the first five minutes of TDK in front of I Am Legend IMAX screenings.

      • AJ

        Ah, okay... I had vague recollections about the Smith film coming out some time in the period where they were going to/had relaunched both Batman under Nolan and Superman under Singer and recalled there being talks about crossing the properties over and likely combined that with more recently hearing that they had considered relaunching both characters together in one film back before Batman Begins.

    • Yaz

      I agree to an extent. I would argue TDKR got a bit away from the 'grounded' aspect. He's flying around in a playing and lugging a bomb with it... Dragging it across the ground a few times for good measure... Along with getting his crippled back fixed via a jab to the back and some push-ups...

      I don't think any of that is very 'grounded'... And I think people would accept Nolan's Batman in the JLA universe regardless.

      Honestly, watching Superman and Batman on-screen, together, in a single film, would be a VERY big deal. It's money in the bank. Avengers numbers. That's why WB wants this so bad.

      • Winchester

        I agree to a degree about the grounding of Batman loosening up a little bit as time went on but I think because of the specific visual and thematic tone that Nolan set for himself it would be a little harder to then begin to involve some of the other characters like Superman who are generally very tonally different. Without then adding in Green Lantern shenanigans.

        Marvel didn't have WB's problem of a set tonal trilogy already existing so when they began they could set their tone as they did with Incredible Hulk and Iron Man and then were able to spend a few films then slowly bringing in the more comic book elements like Alien Gods, space travel and toys like the Helicarrier (which doesn't feel as if it should exist in the first couple MCU films but by the time of The Avengers kinda does) so those less grounded elements seemed more plausible within the universe being built.

        I do think they're pushing it with a talking racoon though, but I digress.

        It seems to me for JL the actual best thing to do would be to forget Nolan's trilogy and introduce a new Batman specifically who can exist within JL instead. But obviously WB would be needed the Nolan/Bale iteration to act as a selling point for the whole thing. Bale's Batman would potentialy be the glue for the whole thing a little like RDJ's Tony Stark so far is the glue in Marvel's project because he's the name.

        It's a conundrum to a degree because I do think the Nolan films are probably best left to exist within themselves only.

        • Yaz

          I agree with most of what you're saying, though I still think JL can happen. The fact is JL doesn't have to take place in Nolan's Bat-Universe. You can have Batman introduced as the outsider in the JL universe, seeing things he's never seen, seeing things he can't quite comprehend, and it could work.

          Yes, it will be a bit difficult seeing Bale's Batman on-screen with God-like characters, but I feel it's something that most could get by if the direction and story is done right.

  • theJackal

    I never would've pegged Zach Snyder as the director to successfully reboot Supes on the big screen (I actually enjoyed Superman Returns (2006) and was looking forward to the direction Brandon Routh and Bryan Singer would take the series); however, Watchmen brought me around to the idea. Apparently, I'm not alone, as Roger Ebert thought Snyder's take on Alan Moore's epic work of comic literature was quite impressive ( I think Snyder (with some Chris Nolan oversight) was a perfect choice.

    Also, as you mentioned, Brad, some early reports from viewings of Man of Steel are very promising. IGN reported on another great early review from source, JoBlo (, who called the new flick "best movie of the year."

    A much older Batman comes out of retirement to join The Justice League...produced by Chris Nolan...and directed by Zach Snyder?!?! Christmas just came early to my house. Please let this be true.

    Thems the facts

  • Roger

    Warner Bros can make a Superman/Batman movie if they want. The problem I think is that WB is overwhelmed with these characters and have absolutely no clue how to copy Marvel's way of making movies. They just seem lost and have no idea how to make this universe come to life.

    It would be a smart move to have Christian Bale as Batman because people know him and are familiar with him. I think the real way to get this Justice League movie rolling is to have Batman show up at the Man of Steel credits. This lets everyone know things are serious, this is all one world and would get people excited for more.

    I dont't think a Batman/Superman movie is necessary, but a Batman cameo would be fantastic. Any sign of the members of Justice League in the after credits would be good, but a Batman cameo would just blow everyone's expectations away and really create buzz.

    • Silrian

      I think the worst thing WB can now do is be a Marvel clone, because Marvel was first and will always be one step ahead that way, while WB improves upon nothing. I still think it would be smarter for WB to not think in movie of character X, Y or Z and team-up films, but simply in terms of one cinematic universe and how that would effect different characters set in that universe. Then figure out how to make corresponding films in a coherent and good way storytelling-wise.

      Honestly, I don't care at all if something is a JLA film, or a wonder woman film with Batman in it, or a Man of Steel with a Batman cameo. What I care for is good films about said characters, in what shape that turns out to be should be dependent on good story, not a formula (like, in my opinion, Marvel is doing now).

      I guarantee you, Marvel's approach is gonna grow old unless the films themselves are good. And in my opinion most of Marvel's efforts aren't actually good films by themselves, not in the least compared to what Nolan reached. WB has a chance to prepare a cinematic universe in a more daring way than Marvel could, because the latter had to pioneer that it works in the first place.

      The best thing to do that, I'd say, is to write a massive story arc, featuring all kinds of DC characters, and then film it in whatever appropriate way possible. If that requires a Man of Steel and then a team up with Batman, fine. If it requires a reboot of Batman, fine. Whatever serves a good story arc. That's the Nolan-approach, and that's what delivers good films...

      • Roger

        I'm not sure what you mean because Marvel's films are actually quite good and their formula works great. I would much prefer DC copying them somewhat in individual character movies and group movies, instead of team up movies telling one big story. I do agree though regardless of how they do it, quality above all else.

        But let's face it: there's no way Justice League isn't happening. I don't think WB will sit on this property. It's just a matter of doing it right. And again, it doesn't matter who is there, but Man of Steel NEEDS to be the starting point for this franchise with some sort of reference or cameo of the other heroes. This is a must. If they don't do this, WB has dropped the ball completely. They can't allow Man of Steel to be its own trilogy like Nolan's trilogy. This needs to be the starting point of a connected universe.

        • Silrian

          I think you know what I mean, but you just disagree. No, I don't think Marvel's films are that good, at all actually. But Marvel has the novel factor and that impresses people. They're the first to seriously accurately portray comics in films on a multi-movie scale, but I'd never call Thor or Captain America or Iron Man 2 (or, imo, even IM1) good films. Their fairly accurate comicbook films, with good special effect, avarage acting and mediocre, simple plotlines. That's not enough to call them 'good films' as far as I'm concerned.

          I do agree WB are making a big mistake if they're not utilizing MoS in a larger cinematic universe. And a JLA film in some form will probably end up being made. But as for how many movies will come before, or what character will appear together with whom, I don't see any rules upfront. Any combination could turn out great if there's a great story, engaging plot and good actors/director behind it, or terrible if there's no level of depth and stprytelling behind it. Marvel can get away with the so called lighthearted stuff, but DC really can't in my honest opinion. Why? Because they'll be Marvel 2.0 without the 'new' factor, and all the flaws that people (who aren't marvel fans?) can easily spot. That would suck, and would be a massive blow against what Nolan achieved for DC and WB.

  • Criterion10

    Sigh. I know that my opinion is going to be slightly unpopular, but I really don't know why Nolan is wasting his time with films like Man of Steel and now Justice League (assuming that the rumor is indeed true). I have my own nitpicks with his Dark Knight films, but at least he directed those with incredible passion and tried to make combine both blockbuster entertainment and art. In this instance, I see it as nothing more than a financial decision.

    Oh, well. At least Nolan is still focusing on his more personal projects as well.

  • GClem

    How about using some of the Bat-gadgets this time. It was like Bats didn't have anything to use against Bane aside from the Batplane and motorcycle. Which to my opinion took away from the movie some of the things that we love about him. Also I think maybe Ryan Reynolds should play the Flash because we don't need two guys being comic relief.

  • rvastar

    [ there any reason they simply couldn't do a Batman and Superman teaming with Bale and Henry Cavill for the first Justice League movie and just hint at the Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and other characters instead of unloading all of them on us at once? To me that sounds like the smartest direction to go.]

    I literally made EXACTLY this point to some coworkers in an email earlier today regarding the Bale news!

    Here's what I wrote:

    "Another thought occurs to me: maybe the problem that WB is having with the script is that they’re trying to go too big, too fast. Why not treat the Justice League in the same way that they’re treating Superman - namely, by starting before it becomes the Justice League? You could have a movie that primarily focuses on Batman and Superman, as they meet and build a partnership to fight some shared threat. And that threat could be one of Wonder Woman’s enemies, thus bringing her into the story line, but they would also have to contend with her man-hating aspect first.

    So basically, Batman and Superman meet and have at least one fight, that ends in a draw. But then some powerful threat shows up, with Wonder Woman emerging to fight it. Batman and Superman agree to set aside their differences and work together to stop the threat, but Woman Woman will having nothing to do with letting two men steal her glory, so there ends up being a battle with Superman and Batman against Wonder Woman. Then in the end, Wonder Woman’s character arch has her loosen up and accept the help of Batman and Superman. Big climactic battle that ends with Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman standing together, triumphant. Movie ends with something like this:

    Batman: I have my eye on two more that are like you two.
    Superman: What do you mean “like you two”?
    Batman: (pause) Different.

    Credits roll, then epilogue: From a distance, in the shadows, something is observing the three. They all head off in different directions. As he takes flight, Superman thinks he hears something, stops and looks at the shadows between some buildings or something. He ignores it and leaves. Camera slowly zooms to the spot…and two red eyes appear….Martian Manhunter.

    The second movie would introduce two other characters, maybe Flash and Aquaman, with the Manhunter still in the background. Then the third movie intros Green Lantern and the final reveal of Martian Manhunter, as some existential alien threat – like Darkseid – appears.

    Justice League complete."

  • Chris138

    I love Nolan's Batman films and think they are the best superhero movies made... but this sounds like a bad idea. I hope it isn't true. I honestly thought Nolan was done with Batman and superheroes in general after TDKR and Man of Steel. In fact, I thought he said he wasn't involved with Justice League at all.

    But yeah, even from a logical standpoint as far as the story goes it would unravel the end of Nolan's trilogy. He pretty clearly retired Batman by the end, so it wouldn't make much sense for him to come back... again. I'd rather see Nolan work on something else like that Interstellar project that was announced a month or two ago.

  • Ducard

    "Watchmen" is a classic that rates with The Dark Night Trilogy, "V For Vendetta" & "The Crow" as the bet "comic book" movie(s) ever made (I think of "A History Of Violence" as being outside the perameters of a "comic book" movie).
    Snyder has been off lately, but I have faith "Man Of Steel" will be his comeback.

  • viral vora

    I am all for it - see Nolan kept teasing for months that he is not returning to the TDK franchise and that the end seals the deal and we all braced ourselves when we first saw TDKR that when bruce flies off that is the last we'll ever see him - but we all know how that changed and even if some see it as a cop out I thought it was brilliant and had me cheering as the music soared and the credits rolled. I think Nolan made a smart choice leaving it open. if superman goes well and I have a feeling it will who knows superman and batman could come together. I think once Superman is on the screen we'll know if there is a possible tie-in in there. I just hope they take time building the justice league and don't go in like the avengers did and waste the first half of the first half just establishing characters take batman and superman in first JL movie, then keep adding other super heroes with subsequent films , you'll have a franchise people are familiar with and wont have to waste time explaining things.

    I am all for anything Nolan does! but i do wish he continues doing a non-super hero movie between each superhero movie - those are some of his best work Inception and Prestige rank way higher than TDK series. at least for me they do

  • wow,hare snyder much

    His best IN YOUR OPINION is Dawn..but i can't wait for you to see Superman and how hard it may be for you to write a solid review on how HIS visual style and directing is awesome. Can't wait, the warly review of the one(s) who have seen Superman are very very possitive.. You'll see. Would love Snyder to direct Justice are you kidding me his action scenes will blow us away and yes for those who need Nolans jizz all over it to make thwm feel more comfortable with the idea so be ir