After ‘Inception,’ What’s Next For Christopher Nolan?

The 'Dark Knight' director is primed to bring comic book superheroes Batman and Superman to the big screen.

With the mammoth success of “Inception” behind him, Christopher Nolan will be turning away from the world of dreams and heading straight into comic book territory. He’s got his hands on (at least) two of the most valuable franchises in Hollywood, and we’re all waiting to see just what he chooses to do with them. Here’s what the future looks like for Nolan.

“Batman 3″
In the wake of the billion-dollar success of “The Dark Knight,” Nolan had earned a blinding green light to bring the Caped Crusader to the big screen for a third time. But last January, rather than commit to a “Batman” threequel, Nolan chose to go off and make “Inception.”

For a while, there was a rumor that he would never return to Gotham City, but earlier this year, word began to spread that Nolan was pushing forward with a script he was spearheading, along with his brother Jonathan (“The Dark Knight”) and David Goyer (ABC’s “FlashForward”). Nolan also revealed the next “Batman” would bring this latest cinematic arc to a close.

“I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters,” he said. “My brother has come up with some pretty exciting stuff. Unlike the comics, these things don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful. Viewing it as an ending — that sets you very much on the right track about the appropriate conclusion and the essence of what tale we’re telling.”

The final “Batman” installment is officially set to arrive in theaters on July 20, 2012. Yet, at this point no announcement has been made about when production will begin. While rumor has it that shooting could start as soon as next March, Nolan has publicly declined to commit to a date. Suffice to say that whenever it ramps up, “Batman 3″ will be Nolan’s next directorial gig.

“Superman” Reboot
Warner Bros. has been so pleased with Nolan’s handling of the “Batman” series that the studio handed him a special mentoring role for a new “Superman,” four years after Bryan Singer’s “Superman Returns” failed to connect with audiences. Goyer is writing the script.

“While David Goyer and myself were putting together the story for another Batman film a few years ago — you know, thrashing out where we might move on from ‘The Dark Knight’ — we got stuck,” he explained to Empire magazine. “We were just sitting there idly chatting and he said, ‘By the way, I think I know how you approach Superman,’ and he told me his take on it. I thought it was really tremendous. It was the first time I had been able to conceive of how you would address Superman in a modern context. I thought it was a very exciting idea.”

Rumors — and the hopes of fanboys — have abounded that Nolan could eventually helm a new “Superman,” but the names of other candidates continue to pop up in the blogosphere, including Chris Columbus, who directed the first two “Harry Potter” films.

“Justice League”
With Nolan now involved in both “Batman” and “Superman,” there’s hope on the Net that he might one day join both superheroes together in a potential “Justice League” movie. But when asked about that possibility, Nolan remained tight-lipped.

“I can’t really talk about other things,” Nolan told us with a smile.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Inception.”

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