Batman In ‘Justice League’: With Christian Bale Out, Who’s In?

With an 'Avengers'-style team-up a major possibility, the Dark Knight could look very different the next time we see him.

When Christian Bale denied all involvement with any future “Justice League,” he dashed the dreams of anyone hoping to see the best on-screen Batman meet up with Henry Cavill’s Superman from “Man of Steel,” but the Oscar winner also opened the door to a new take on the Caped Crusader.

The success of “Man of Steel” essentially guaranteed a Marvel-style team-up for the DC Comics heroes, and with Henry Cavill squared away as Superman for the “Justice League” movie, where does that leave us with his greatest ally? A few hints about Batman’s role have floated around in the wake of “Man of Steel,” but with Bale out of the picture, it’s time to review what we know so far.

The JGL Factor
The great thing about “The Dark Knight Rises” is that it offered up a suitable Batman replacement if Bale decided to step aside for “Justice League,” right? Probably not.

Late last year, HitFix reported that Gordon-Levitt was already locked in for the team-up, a claim that the actor’s reps immediately denied. If Warner Bros. was looking to fill out the Batman role on their Justice League roster with a recognizable Dark Knight, Gordon-Levitt is the logical choice, but a detail that surfaced from the “Man of Steel” press circuit may have put that rumor to bed.

A Different Universe
David S. Goyer, a writing partner to Christopher Nolan throughout the “Dark Knight Trilogy” and the screenwriter on “Man of Steel,” spoke definitively to MTV News about the relationship between the most recent incarnations of Batman and Superman. “The ‘Dark Knight’ films do not exist in the same universe. Zack [Snyder] has gone on record. The fact that we have Wayne Industries on the satellite, Bruce Wayne exists in this universe,” Goyer said. “Lex Luthor exists in this universe. Other metahumans do exist in this universe, so the hope is, depending on how the film does, that we’ll be able to roll into some other films.”

Placing the two existing movies in separate worlds seemed to kill any hope for an appearance from Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake as Batman, since that character doesn’t live in a world where men can fly, but it does completely open up the possibilities for the Caped Crusader’s appearance in “Justice League.” Batman has always been one of the darker characters in comic books, but a clean slate could allow for a fresh take on Bruce Wayne and his raspy alter ego.

Comic-Con
Marvel used last year’s San Diego Comic-Con as a victory lap after “The Avengers” became one of the biggest movies of all time. (Robert Downey Jr. literally danced down the aisle of Hall H, high fiving fans along the way.) “Man of Steel” didn’t exactly reach those heights, but it marked the first non-”Dark Knight” victory for DC in the film department, and that’s why many expect a similar show from Warner Bros. this year. Peter Jackson announced yesterday that “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” would not have any presence at SDCC this month, leaving a big gap in WB’s panel and the imaginations of nerds everywhere racing.

Could we see a big “Justice League”-related announcement this year in San Diego? We’ll have to wait and see, but you can bet on MTV News being there to cover every inch of Comic-Con starting on July 18.

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Writer/editor for MTV. If it involves cowboys, spies, or hitmen, I'm there. All three would be ideal.
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