Christopher Nolan wants you to know something about "The Dark Knight Rises." The Legend Ends. All the posters declare it, and the trailer features Bane carrying the broken cowl. But even though it seems like the director is trying to end the series, Warner Bros. has already spoken about intentions to reboot Batman shortly after Nolan finishes.
But where do you go after Nolan? The man redefined comic book movies, so a follow-up would need to be just as innovative. With so much source material to pull from, it would be wise of Warner Bros. to look there for their next direction.
We did them the favor of combining some well-known Batman storylines and worthy directors just to save them the trouble. Here are our concepts for Batman reboots:
"Bruce Wayne: The Lost Years," Directed by John Hillcoat
What was Bruce up to all of those years away from Gotham? "Batman Begins" touched on the subject briefly, but surely Wayne saw more action than stealing a few boxes from Wayne Enterprises. The director of "The Proposition" and "The Road," John Hillcoat has the style gritty enough to handle the globe-trotting adventures of Wayne as he gets to know the criminal world. Plus, this is a storyline only barely touched on by Nolan but connected enough to attract an audience — the only drawback being he couldn't wear the suit.
"Batman Beyond," Directed by Rian Johnson
If Warner Bros. wants to make a direct sequel to Nolan's trilogy, the sequel to the original animated series may be their best bet. A fan favorite for years, "Batman Beyond" follows a new, younger Batman who learns under the tutorship of an aged Bruce Wayne. Rian Johnson may not be a name you recognize now, but after September's "Looper," he certainly will be. The thriller takes place in the near future and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the same man who is rumored to be taking over for Christian Bale.
"Gotham by Gaslight," Directed by Guy Ritchie
Say what you will about the quality of Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes" movies, they have a look and style of their very own. Bruce Wayne's one-shot trip back in time to 19th-century Gotham would fit perfectly into the style Ritchie established with his first two Holmes movies and would give the director a chance to find his edge again. If any superhero deserves a gratuitous amount of slow motion, it's Batman.
"The Dark Knight Returns," Directed by Darren Aronofsky
The director of "Black Swan" turned down an opportunity to direct "Batman Begins" before Nolan took over, but Aronofsky has been itching to direct a superhero movie ever since then, taking an unsuccessful stab at "The Wolverine." One of the darkest Batman runs, "The Dark Knight Returns" would make perfect fodder for Aronofsky and give a solid break from the previous trilogy. But with DC making an animated original movie, we'll wait and see what comes of that version before ordering a live-action remake.
Grant Morrison's "Batman and Robin," Directed by Matthew Vaughn
This one may be a stretch because of its connection to "The Dark Knight Rises," but in some ways it would be a total departure. In Morrison's series, the world believes Bruce Wayne has died, so Dick Grayson, the original Robin, takes up the cowl and takes over for his former master. The kicker here is that Damian Wayne, the son of Bruce and Talia al Ghul, is Robin, and he doesn't shy away from lethal force.
Check out everything we've got on "The Dark Knight Rises."