Is a Dark Knight Returns Movie Releasing In 2024? Christian Bale Film Speculation Explained

By Nathan Johnson Posted:
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight, Batman in The Dark Knight poster

A trailer for a new 2024 Christian Bale-led Batman film titled The Dark Knight Returns recently surfaced, raising speculation on whether the actor will ever return to the franchise alongside director Christopher Nolan.

Nolan (Oppenheimer, Inception, Interstellar) made his mark on the superhero film genre by releasing a trilogy of Batman movies known as The Dark Knight Trilogy.

Led by Bale (who played Bruce Wayne/Batman), all three films are revered by many fans as being some of the best comic book-based projects of all time. 

Seeing as how the last title (The Dark Knight Rises) was released in 2012, many hope and speculate if another entry will ever come about.

Christian Bale Batman Trailer Speculation Explained

A trailer for a new Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movie starring Christian Bale recently made its way onto YouTube.

According to the trailer, which states that the movie is titled The Dark Knight Returns and will be released in 2024, Bale will reprise his role as Batman for the first time in 12 years and take on the villain known as Black Mask.

However, many fans have already identified this trailer as fake, as neither DC Studios nor Warner Bros. have announced or confirmed that a continuation of the Dark Knight trilogy is in the works.

Will Christian Bale Ever Play Batman Again?

Due to the popularity and success of Nolan and Bale's Batman flicks, many have theorized that the duo will return to the superhero genre at some point to possibly make one more installment in their respective franchise.

No such project has ever been announced or confirmed, so it can be undisputedly pointed out that nothing is currently in the works for 2024. But Bale has been questioned on whether he would like to make a return.

In an interview with Toronto Sun that took place in 2019 while the actor was promoting Ford v Ferrari, Bale was asked about how he and Nolan went about creating the trilogy, specifically stating that they wanted to "reinvent" the character:

"We knew we had to reinvent it. I literally had people laugh at me when I told them we were doing a new kind of Batman. I think that the reason it worked was first and foremost Chris’ take on it."

Bale also revealed that they always viewed the "opportunity" to tackle the Caped Crusader as something that wasn't guaranteed "beyond one film at a time," explaining Nolan's thought process:

"But also we never were arrogant to assume that we had an opportunity beyond one film at a time. That’s something that Chris always would talk about. He’d say, 'This is it. We’re making one film. That’s all we’ve got.'
Then when they came and said, 'You want to go make another?' It was fantastic, but we still said, “This is it. We will not get another opportunity.”
Then they came and they said, 'OK, let’s do a third one.'"

The Bruce Wayne actor then said how it was always Nolan's hope to make a trilogy, and that if they were able to get that far, even if they were offered to create a fourth installment, "[they] would stop" and "walk away:"

"Chris had always said to me that if we were fortunate to be able to make three we would stop. 'Let’s walk away after that,' he said.
Then when they inevitably came to us and said, 'How about a No. 4?' I said, 'No. We have to stick to Chris’ dream, which was always to, hopefully, do a trilogy. Let’s not stretch too far and become overindulgent and go for a fourth.'"

However, Bale did mention that, after Nolan was finished, the director (not Bale) "stepped away," indicating that he would have been willing to return if Nolan had wanted to move forward with another title:

"That’s why we, well Chris, stepped away. After that I was informed my services were no longer required (laughs)."

Three years later in 2022, Bale was again asked about potentially returning to reprise his role as Batman.

This time, speaking to Screen Rant, he reaffirmed that there were no plans from the studio or Nolan to make a fourth entry in the franchise, speaking once again about the "pact" he made with Nolan that they would "walk away" after three movies:

"No. No one's ever mentioned it to me. No one's brought it up. [...] Occasionally people say to me, 'Oh, I hear you were approached and offered all this.' And I'm like, 'That's news to me. No one's ever said that.'
I had a pact with Chris Nolan. We said, 'Hey, look. Let's make three films, if we're lucky enough to get to do that. And then let's walk away. Let's not linger too long.'"

Bale did say, however, that he would star in another Dark Knight film if Nolan were to return as well:

"In my mind, it would be something if Chris Nolan ever said to himself, 'You know what, I've got another story to tell.' And if he wished to tell that story with me, I'd be in."

So, while there are no current plans for another Christian Bale-led Batman movie to come out, and one titled The Dark Knight Returns won't be released in 2024, there is always a possibility that fans could see Bale on-screen one more time in the role.

The Real Upcoming Live-Action Batman Movies

Although Christian Bale isn't returning anytime soon, there are multiple live-action Batman films currently in the works.

Matt Reeves' The Batman (starring Robert Pattinson) was one of the most successful and beloved superhero projects of the past five years, so a second film was unsurprisingly confirmed to be coming soon.

Officially titled The Batman - Part II, the movie is in development and is set to be released in theaters on October 2, 2026. 

While no details regarding the project have been released, some reports stated that Clayface could act as one of its antagonists. It is also possible that Paul Dano's Riddler, Colin Farrell's Penguin, and Barry Keoghan's Joker could show up in some capacity.

Many fans are also excited about James Gunn's upcoming DCU, an interconnected universe that will have its own Batman.

While the actor that will don the cape and cowl hasn't yet been revealed, Gunn did announce that a solo Batman flick titled The Brave and the Bold will be released at some point in the next few years.

Filming has also not started on The Brave and the Bold yet, but Gunn will likely update fans sometime soon about the project's status.

Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale's The Dark Knight trilogy is streaming on Max.

Read more about other fake movie trailers:

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- About The Author: Nathan Johnson
Nathan is a writer at The Direct where he covers Star Wars, the MCU, and DC news. He joined The Direct in April 2021 and currently writes news and feature articles about all three brands mentioned above, but his main specialty is his knowledge about anything and everything Star Wars.