With Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice coming out next month, fans are anxiously awaiting a chance to see their favorite superheroes duke it out on the big screen. But what happens after that? Is there still room for a third film in the Batman franchise?

The Dark Knight would love to continue being a part of the Warner Bros. library. Since his inception, the Dark Knight series has always remained popular, and with the success of The Dark Knight Rises in recent years, the studio likely sees this as a chance to cash in and try for more.

However, this will likely be Ben Affleck’s last go-around as Batman. Though he has expressed interest in appearing in future films, Affleck has indicated that his time as the Caped Crusader is up.

A Brave New World

With the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, it’s no surprise that the studio and director were repeatedly called upon to help shape the future of the Batman franchise. With the first film breaking box office records, and the second becoming one of the most successful films of all time, it was clear that this was a world that needed exploring.

Over the past decade, Nolan has helped pioneer a new filmmaking language focused on realism and grit. And while Batman v Superman is a step into the future, the film feels eerily reminiscent of Nolan’s Gotham, particularly when compared to previous films in the franchise.

The Dark Knight Rises was widely acclaimed as one of the best films of 2011, and it was rewarded with a nomination for Best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards. Critics had a field day praising the film, with many hailing it as a comeback story for the franchise. In addition, The Dark Knight Rises became the highest-grossing entry in the franchise, earning $700 million at the box office.

A Changing Of The Guard

In the years following the release of The Dark Knight Rises, fans have been waiting anxiously for news on the next installment of the Batman series. Though he has expressed interest in appearing in future films, Ben Affleck has repeatedly stated that he sees this as his last go-around as the Caped Crusader. But with production underway on Justice League, which will see Argo writer and co-director Matt Reeves taking the helm as director, a changing of the guard could be in order.

Justice League will introduce us to a new generation of bats as the franchise embarks on a journey towards becoming more accessible to all audiences. Gone are the days of two-dimensional villains and overly dramatic plot twists. Reeves and company are looking to put a fun spin on the superhero genre to appeal to a new audience, and they plan on doing so with a colorful array of characters fans love and know.

Warner Bros. has maintained a firm stance on not wanting to rush the franchise, choosing to ease us into the cinematic world of the Justice League by revealing these characters one at a time. But with production set to begin next month, Justice League will introduce us to the world of superheroes in a big way.

The End Or Rebirth?

With the success of the Dark Knight trilogy and Justice League, it’s quite clear that Nolan and company left their mark on the superhero genre and the Batman franchise. And while one might assume that the end of the Dark Knight series signifies the end of the franchise as we know it, this might not be the case. But rather, this could be the beginning of something bigger.

With the rise of comic book movies in the 21st century, studios realized the potential for cinematic worlds that blend fiction and reality. And what’s more, audiences were ready to embrace stories that reflect our world, but with a twist. With superhero movies becoming all the rage, it’s quite possible that we’ll see more films that blur the lines between fiction and reality.

For decades, the Batman franchise upheld a self-imposed rule of only using actors who were either past or present practitioners of martial arts. While previous attempts at using stunt actors fell flat, Nolan and company were able to utilize practical effects and real-life locations to immerse us in a realistic Gotham that feels as though it could exist in our world. And while this might all be a coincidence, it’s undeniable that the cinematic universe feels more real thanks to Nolan’s pragmatism and effectiveness.

Where Will Batman Stand In 2018?

With everything from Lego Batman to Arkham Knight, it’s clear that the world of Batman is far from coming to an end. But with no signs of any further films in the immediate future, it’s time to reflect on where the franchise stands today, and if any of these new stories will live up to the legacy of the Dark Knight.

While it’s always been interesting to compare the various iterations of Batman to one another, one thing is for sure: without Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, we might not have seen the rise of comic book movie adaptations, and thus, the amazing world of today’s superhero movies.

Whether you’ve been a Batman fan since the beginning or have only recently become intrigued by the characters, there’s plenty to celebrate in the world of superheroes today. And as long as there are creative and effective storytellers who understand the value of playing it smart, and avoiding fanboy clichés, I suspect we’ll continue to see films that live up to this year’s incredible legacy.