When Warner Bros. surprised fans at Comic Con 2013 with the announcement of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it was just one year after Christian Bale wrapped up his Batman trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises. Fans would have to wait another year before learning that Ben Affleck would play the new Bruce Wayne/Batman. But there had been several rumors that Christian Bale was being eyed to put on the cape and cowl once again. While promoting his new movie Knight of Cups, Christian Bale reflected on his time as Batman, revealing that The Dark Knight co-star Heath Ledger actually "ruined" his plans for the character.
"Batman, he's just this very, very, very dark, messed up character. I found, when I put on the suit, I went, I just feel like a bloody idiot if I don't use this as a means of... it's his true monstrous self that he allows himself to come out in that moment. Let's do that. Heath turned up and kind of completely ruined all my plans. He's so much more interesting than me and what I'm doing. I didn't quite manage what I hoped I would throughout the trilogy. (Director) Chris (Nolan) did, but my own sense of self is like, 'I didn't quite nail it.'"
Regardless of his own thoughts regarding his portrayal of The Dark Knight, Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan undoubtedly helped revitalize a beloved character that Warner Bros.' shied away from for nearly a decade. The critical and commercial failure of 1997's Batman & Robin marked the end of a much different era for the beloved hero, which started with the 1989 blockbuster Batman. This spawned the hit follow-ups Batman Returns in 1992 and Batman Forever in 1995, but the divisive Batman & Robin was the nail in the coffin for this franchise, until Christopher Nolan came around.
While the entire trilogy was certainly a success, The Dark Knight stood above the rest, setting a new opening weekend box office record of $158.4 million, en route to $534.8 million domestic and just over $1 billion worldwide. The success was also marked with tragedy, with Heath Ledger unexpectedly dying from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in January 2008, seven months before the movie opened. His critically-acclaimed performance as The Joker won him a posthumous Oscar in 2009, and the backlash of The Dark Knight being snubbed from Best Picture consideration is believed to be one of the primary reasons why the Academy switched from five Best Picture nominees to 10 the next year.
While we still have a few weeks to see how Ben Affleck's Batman compares to Christian Bale's version of The Dark Knight, one of Christian Bale's co-stars doesn't think Ben Affleck can pull it off. Morgan Freeman, who played Lucius Fox in The Dark Knight trilogy, recently said in an interview that he doesn't know "how it will work" with Ben Affleck, adding he doesn't think anyone can "beat" his trilogy. Do you think Ben Affleck will do a better job as Christian Bale?