Nolan and Snyder Discussed ‘Dark Knight’ Movie Universe, but ‘Rises’ Ending Made It ‘Difficult’

Expanding Nolan's Batman films into a universe would've seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt become the Caped Crusader.
"The Dark Knight Rises"
"The Dark Knight Rises"
©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Collection / Everett Collection

Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” is credited as the start of the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros. and DC Films’ polarizing attempt to create a cinematic universe of interconnected superhero movies a la Marvel Studios. Films such as “Man of Steel,” “Aquaman,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Shazam” all exist in the same universe, with characters free to overlap (see “Justice League”). But what if the DCEU started with Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy? That wasn’t off the table when Nolan hired Snyder to develop his own Superhero movie (aka “Man of Steel”).

“It was not 100 percent off the table,” Snyder recently told MTV (via THR) about the early discussions of setting “Man of Steel” in the same universe as “The Dark Knight” movies. “We did talk about it a little bit. The whole thing is that I think it’s difficult.”

Why so difficult? The ending of Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises” is one of the reasons, according to Snyder. “It would’ve been interesting because, just doing the math, if we had done that, the Batman in this movie would’ve been Joseph Gordon-Levitt,” the director said. “Which could’ve been cool…but Nolan, and i don’t blame him, his thing doesn’t get muddied by these other things touching it. It’s a tight box, and I’m glad I didn’t fuck with it because its a pretty nice trilogy.”

Snyder said “Dark Knight Rises” handing the Batman role over from Christian Bale to Joseph Gordon-Levitt is “maybe why we didn’t” want to shoehorn “Man of Steel” into the same universe. The handoff brought closure to Nolan’s Batman story, with Bale’s Bruce Wayne living a life outside of Batman overseas alongside Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle/Catwoman. To expand Nolan’s trilogy into a universe would mean that world would always be populated with Bale’s still-living Bruce Wayne, no doubt prompting endless fan speculation and fan demand that he could return. Better to just reset with a new Batman, which is what Snyder did by casting Ben Affleck in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

According to Snyder, Affleck was hesitant to accept the role of Batman for quite awhile. The director had a backup plan in place with actor Matthias Schoenaerts.

“I was talking to him a lot about it,” Snyder told MTV. “He never got in the suit, but I did do a bunch of mock-ups of him, because Ben was on the fence. And I don’t blame him. Everyone should be on the fence when you’re asked, ‘Do you want to play Batman?’”

Affleck is reprising his Batman role one last time in the upcoming Flash movie, while Robert Pattinson is taking his own stab at the iconic superhero in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman.”

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