Christian Bale’s Dark Knight Returns in New Batman Trailer

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Christian Bale as Batman next to his suit in 'The Dark Knight'

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Christian Bale becomes the latest Batman to make a comeback — but not in the way you might think.

It’s definitely an understatement to say that several actors have now played the iconic DC character Bruce Wayne/Batman in film. But there will be countless more. Enjoy it while it lasts, Robert Pattinson, and whichever actor ends up getting the keys to the Batmobile and the Batcave in the new DC Universe’s Batman reboot The Brave and the Bold (TBA).

But while we now have rather a large roster of Batman actors, now that we live in an age where nostalgia is constantly turning our heads, it has become less about who will play the next Batman and more about whether past actors will ever don the cape and cowl again. We only have Multiverse movies like The Flash (2023) to blame, which features several “Bat-cameos” in the form of Adam West (through the use of CG and stock footage), Michael Keaton (Batman 1989 and Batman Returns), Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League), and George Clooney (Batman & Robin).

Michael Keaton's Batman in the Batwing in 'The Flash'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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Still, it’s always fun to see veteran Batman actors return to the fold, even if it is for nothing more than a cheap thrill — although, oddly enough, seeing George Clooney, whose Caped Crusader remains the most hated version, appear at the end of The Flash did improve the film slightly. And Michael Keaton definitely helped the DC disaster make some money at the worldwide box office, even if it was only $271.3M against its $200–220M budget.

Keaton had 31 years to become a “legacy” Batman, but he’s no longer the only one. While it will take some time yet for the likes of Ben Affleck (AKA “Batfleck”) and Robert Pattinson (AKA “Battinson”) to be given that title, Christian Bale became one almost overnight. At least it felt that way — it was probably because he had three Batman movies released in the space of seven years: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), all of which were helmed by critically acclaimed director Christopher Nolan.

Christian Bale as Batman on the rooftop in 'The Dark Knight Rises'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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Now, Christian Bale is back in the Batsuit in a brand-new fan-made trailer titled The Dark Knight Returns, courtesy of the usual suspects, KH Studios on YouTube, a channel that’s no stranger to churning out fake trailers with the use of AI (artificial intelligence).

Check it out below:

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Unsurprisingly, the fake trailer utilizes footage from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight movies, however, in imagining a Rogues Gallery villain Bale’s Batman never went up against in those films, it also pulls scenes featuring Roman Sionis/Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) from the DC Universe movie Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey (2020).

With a keen eye on all things DC, KH Studios also recently imagined Jenna Ortega as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl.

Whether intentional or not, the title The Dark Knight Returns is lifted directly from the incredibly popular 1986 graphic novel by Frank Miller, which was developed into a two-part animated feature in 2012 and 2013. While the fan-made trailer appears to have very little to do with the story from that graphic novel, it’s still a rather fitting title for a potential fourth film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, following The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

That said, it’s unlikely Christian Bale will ever don the cape and cowl for a fourth time. Not only has he gone on record numerous times to say he’s uninterested in returning as the goal was always to make three films with Nolan, rumor has it that he turned down returning as Bruce Wayne/Batman in The Flash.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) looking into the distance in front of the Bat suit in 'The Dark Knight'
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

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If the rumors are true, it’s possible Bale simply wasn’t interested in appearing in a Multiverse-centric movie, which could have easily ruined what is an otherwise very grounded iteration of Batman.

Ultimately, though, his return would make no sense. At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne fakes his own death so that he can live a normal life beyond Gotham City, leaving his protégé, Robin John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), to take up the mantle of Batman. In one of the closing scenes, Bruce is spotted at a café in Florence, Italy with Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), where he gives a watchful Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) a friendly nod to let him know that all is well. Why ruin such a perfect ending?

Would you like to see Christian Bale reprise his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman in a new Dark Knight movie? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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