Christian Bale Says 'Dark Knight Rises' Will Likely Be His Last Batman Flick

There are few movies out there right now that are more eagerly anticipated than "The Dark Knight Rises," the third installment in Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Batman franchise. But other than the title, some love-interest casting rumors, and the fact that "Inception" star Tom Hardy has joined the cast as a probable foe for Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne/Batman, there's very little intel available on the film.

So when MTV's Josh Horowitz caught up with Bale at the press junket for "The Fighter," he asked the actor for a bit of Bat dish. Bale obliged by seemingly confirming that Hardy will play a villain.

Unfortunately, he also parted with some news that won't be as kind to Batman fans' ears: "The Dark Knight Rises" will most likely mark the last time Bale suits up as the Caped Crusader... and the last time Nolan directs a film in the series. "I think so. That's up to Chris," he said. "That was always what the discussion was. But you know, if Chris says, 'I see another story here,' then we'll be up for it. But in my mind, I'm expecting this will be it."

Sounds to us like Bale's leaving the door slightly ajar for his and Nolan's potential return. Might we suggest a reunion a couple decades down the road to film an adaptation of Frank Miller's well-regarded graphic novel "The Dark Knight Returns," in which a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to fight crime once again?

"That maybe would not be bad," Bale chuckled at the suggestion. "Maybe in 20 years time, but you need that break."

Should "The Dark Knight Rises" be the final film in Nolan and Bale's Batman saga... or are you thirsty for more? Tell us in the comments!