Warning: This post contains spoilers for the ending of 'The Dark Knight Rises.'
Remember the somewhat ham-fisted ending of this year's "The Dark Knight Rises"? You know, the one that revealed that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's police officer character John Blake was actually named Robin (the name of Batman's long time comic book side kick), and that he had gained access to the Batcave after Bruce Wayne's apparent death?
With director Christopher Nolan's Bat-trilogy at an end (and with it, the comic book continuity he'd created), audiences were left to assume that Blake would take up the mantle of Batman — or at least of Robin -- and continue to fight crime in Gotham City.
Warner Bros. has no plans to reboot the Batman franchise before the arrival of DC's superhero ensemble pic "Justice League" in 2015, so it's unlikely that viewers would get a chance to see Gordon-Levitt don the cape and cowl of the Dark Knight in a solo adventure, if at all. Previous rumours indicated that WB would be abandoning the Nolan Bat universe in favour of a new DC Comics movie universe spun out of the upcoming "Man of Steel" Superman film, and that actor Armie Hammer (who had previously won the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in the aborted 2009 "Justice League "film) was the studio's top pick for the Caped Crusader.
But now, that may all have changed according to HitFix. Sources at Warner Bros. tell the movie site that Joseph Gordon-Levitt "absolutely will be appearing in 'Justice League' as the new Batman," and may also appear as the character even sooner. The report claims that Gordon-Levitt and another Nolan universe character are "solidifying" deals with Warner Bros. to reprise their roles in another project first — possibly a post-credits sequence at the end of "Man of Steel."
It's a safe bet that DC Comics and Warner Bros. have been paying close attention to what Marvel and parent company Disney have been doing with their own comic book movies. Marvel used post-credit scenes in movies like "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk" to introduce characters and elements from forthcoming comic book movies, and in the process, they built up a contiguous continuity that set the stage for the big budget super team film "The Avengers." Given Marvel/Disney's huge success with this world-building formula, WB and DC would be wise to follow their rival's example and introduce the new Batman well in advance of his "Justice League" debut.
While nothing is official, the HitFix report would indicate that "Man of Steel" is, in fact, a continuation of Nolan's comic book continuity. After all, the story of the Zack Snyder film was developed by Nolan (who also produced the film) and "Dark Knight" scribe David S. Goyer. If anyone in the world were better positioned to build out the DC movie universe, it would be those two.
With a younger Batman and Superman lined up for "Justice League," it's possible that Warner Bros. may be taking a cue from DC Comics' recently relaunched comic book continuity called "The New 52." Set in a more realistic and gritty world (see "The Dark Knight"), the New 52 comics feature younger versions of classic DC superheroes with updated costumes, new attitudes, and even differing origins. This would again be taking a page from the Marvel Comics playbook, since that company's 2000 comic book relaunch, called the "Ultimate" universe, helped to inspire their own crop of superhero movies.
Are you excited by the prospect of a younger Batman, or would you rather see Christian Bale reprise the role for "Justice League"?