It’s been a busy decade since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight first hit theaters. Two more movies and a TV series later, many questions remain about Harvey Dent’s role as the Dark Knight and about what the future holds for the character.

Most notably, has Christian Bale been dropped from the upcoming Batman movie? Rumors are circulating that Bale may have dropped out of the blockbuster, but the actor has remained silent on the topic. With the film now on pause as the global pandemic continues to loom, it’s an appropriate moment to reflect on Bale’s incredible performance as Bruce Wayne and to wonder what might’ve happened if he had been given a direct follow-up role in the DC cinematic universe.

The Making Of The Dark Knight

It was September 2016 when the final trailer for The Dark Knight was released. More than 10 years had passed since we saw the last of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, and fans were elated to see a promising start to a new trilogy. The Dark Knight was a massive success, taking in $732 million at the box office on its opening weekend, which was the equivalent of 11.7 million tickets sold. It went on to become the highest-grossing movie of the year and, at the time of its release, the third highest-grossing movie of all time.

The Dark Knight stands out as a significant entry in the superhero film genre not only because it was the first time the genre had introduced us to a character known for his use of brains as well as brawn. It’s also because it introduced a level of complexity to Batman’s character. While Christian Bale’s performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman was nothing short of phenomenal, it was the script that was written by brothers David and Christopher Nolan (they also co-directed with G.B.); producer Nolan’s wife, Emma Walsh; and composer Hans Zimmer that ultimately made this film so special. It had the makings of a classic: the director’s cut now plays in a cinema near you, and it can still be found on various streaming platforms.

The Post-Pandemic World Of Batman

The world has changed a great deal in the decade since The Dark Knight came out. The comics industry has been decimated by the pandemic, with many shops and conventions closing down. The impact has been significant, and fans have reacted with anger, as their favorite creative teams and characters have been affected. It was initially reported that Christopher Nolan was seeking to write and direct a sequel to The Dark Knight before the pandemic, but many of his projects have been put on hold as a result of the worldwide restrictions that were put in place to slow the spread of the disease. In the year since The Dark Knight, we’ve only seen one major comic book release, and that was Marvel’s Black Widow solo film. Outside of the big-budget superhero movies, there hasn’t been much in the way of new developments in the comics world.

However, the impact of the pandemic on the world of superhero movies hasn’t been all bad. While we may not be getting as many big-budget films as we once did, we’re seeing a boom in smaller, independent films that tackle weighty topics in a serious, mature fashion. Batman’s appearance in the 2016 film Zoolander II (directed by Woody Allen) was a small example of this trend, as was the Nicolas Cage movie Mandy (directed by Darren Aronofsky, who also directed The Wrestler). Those two films alone may not have earned the same level of success as they would’ve had pre-pandemic, but it’s clear that the world is taking note of what happened and is rewarding films that tackle serious, relevant topics in a mature fashion. If you feel that your cinematic explorations have reached this level of maturity, feel free to take a break and recharge your batteries before getting back to the grindstone. With summer just around the corner, it might be the perfect time to give one of these films a try…even if it’s just for some relaxation during the day. If you’ve got a specific film in mind, take a look at our reviews to find the best one for you.