Robert Pattinson is officially stepping down from his role as Batman. The actor and model announced his decision today on social media, posting a photo of himself in his Batsuit and the message: “I’ll see you in my dreams.”

Pattinson previously wore the Batman costume in two cinematic outings: the DC Comics adaptation Batman vs. Superman, and the family movie Batman & Robin. The last of these was initially meant to be a direct sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. But since the project never saw the light of day, Batman & Robin technically isn’t part of the Batman canon. However, that didn’t stop Warner Bros. from subsequently reissuing the original trilogy on Blu-ray.

Why Is Batman Stepping Down?

Pattinson’s decision to step down from Batman is an interesting one, as it comes at the end of a hugely successful nine-year run as the caped crusader. Not only did he become one of Hollywood’s most in-demand leading men, but he also established himself as a style icon – known not just for his acting, but also for his quirky, individualistic sense of style. (To some extent, this was aided by the fact that he mostly avoided wearing the same thing time and time again.)

It seems odd that a man who has built such a successful and influential identity as Batman would want to walk away from the character at this point in his life. After all, he’s now free to explore other avenues, both on and off camera. But it’s important to remember that this is a decision made in the spirit of adventure and self-expression, not because he feels he’s run out of ideas as an actor. (Though it’s certainly partly true.)

Throughout his time as Batman, Pattinson has stated that the character has never been more fun to explore. The opportunity to play with different facets of himself both in terms of character and physicality was something he found deeply rewarding. And while he’s clearly exhausted from constantly having to juggle his insanely demanding schedule, he still looks back on his time as Batman with great fondness. (He even went so far as to describe the role as “the most challenging and rewarding of [his] career”.)

That said, he admits that it’s always hard to leave characters behind. For a while, at least. (Pattinson did not rule out the possibility of reprising his role as Batman in the future.) And it’s clear that he still has a great deal of affection for the character. He just doesn’t want to be seen as “that guy” anymore. Or, as he puts it:

“I want to be the one who is inspiring people versus showing people how to be inspired,” he told Entertainment Weekly in 2016.

Which Other Characters Could He Reinvent Himself As?

With his identity as Batman firmly established, Pattinson is free to reinvent himself as he sees fit. This includes a potential return to the superhero world, as he’s had a great deal of success in film. Aside from the odd bit part in X-Men: Apocalypse, he’s mostly been playing brooding, intense characters. (This is in stark contrast to his acting style in Twilight, where he played a more light-hearted, quirky character.) We could therefore see him step back into a role that is more along the lines of his personality: brooding and intense.

Pattinson has stated that he’s always keen to tackle new and different characters. (“I don’t want to be known as ‘Robert Pattinson,’ which is like McDonald’s or Tesla’s golden boy. It sounds good, but then people start thinking about McDonald’s and Tesla as architects or leaders. And it’s not like that at all,” he told Empire magazine in 2016.) He has also expressed a desire to play more comedic roles, describing his time as Batman as a “humbling” experience that taught him “to keep things simple.” (Pattinson was part of a massive talent pool assembled for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. He wasn’t the only A-lister in the cast, but he was certainly the most recognizable.)

In the same vein as Batman, he could take on a role that is more of a hybrid of the two. (Think Logan, the Wolverine-like X-Men character that he played in Apocalypse.) Or, he could even take on the persona of a superhero himself, and become a crime-fighting vigilante.

A Bold Move

Speaking of reinventing himself, it’s important to remember that this is a character that he is stepping away from, not just a role. The choice to leave Batman behind is a bold move, and it could pay off in a number of ways. (Pattinson is clearly intrigued by the idea.)

On the commercial front, he could become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after leading men, with numerous lucrative opportunities undoubtedly lying ahead.

But beyond the wallet, this is a character that he clearly cares about, and who has inspired him throughout his life. He stated in a 2016 documentary that “growing up on the road [with his dad, a professional bike racer], I always wanted to be a superhero.” So it’s not hard to see how leaving Batman behind could be a meaningful moment, both for him and for those who love the character.