It has been more than a decade since The Dark Knight Rises concluded Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. The trilogy’s impact created seismic waves in the film industry and pop culture that are still felt today. When the trilogy started with Batman Begins (2005), it was instantly lauded and praised by critics, comic book movie fans and general audiences. The film is now considered one of the best films from the early 2000s. During the late nineties, Batman’s on-screen image was in tatters. The disastrous Batman and Robin (1997) by Joel Schumacher was ground zero for his shredded image. The campy nightmare of a film is often cited as the worst Batman film.
Batman needed an on-screen make-over, and Batman Begins was more than able to redeem the character. The gritty and decidedly un-camp version of the character struck a chord with modern audiences and became a critical and commercial hit.
Writing in Far Out Magazine, Calum Russell notes that Bryan Singer’s X-MEN (2000) and X2 (2003) set the stage for the modern superhero comic film. Singer and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi helped make comic book movies critical and commercial success stories. With the groundwork laid for more dramatic and sombre comic book films, Batman Begins built a towering skyscraper that reached the sky.
After Batman Begins’ success, Nolan and Warner Bros would release The Dark Kight (2008). The film tore apart the box office and was the first superhero film to make a billion dollars. It’s unreal, considering that before the MCU, Warner Bros and the D.C. Extended Universe were the trailblazers in the comic book film genre. With The Dark Knight, fans were treated to one of the greatest films in history. The film’s success raised the artistic and commercial achievements of the genre to its highest levels.
Writing in Forbes, Mark Hughes reminisces on The Dark Knight’s impact, saying:
“The arrival of The Dark Knight with its shocking billion-dollar box office results was historic and awe-inspiring. Shattering box office records almost daily, The Dark Knight became the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time, behind only Titanic ($1.8 billion), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King ($1.1 billion), and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($1 billion). It was the biggest movie of 2008, and the combination of The Dark Knight and Iron Man probably solidified the superhero genre’s status as the new ruler at the box office.”
The Dark Knight left fans eager for more caped intrigue, but they had to endure four years of waiting till the release of The Dark Knight Rises (2012). The film was divisive within a particular segment of the fanbase, but it was a commercial and critical darling, reaching over a billion at the box office. The Dark Knight Rises saw Christopher Nolan tie up Bruce Wayne’s story with a conclusive ending to the character.
While Nolan was succinct in his storytelling journey with Batman, fans were eager to see more of his version of Batman on-screen. Mark Hughes points to fans’ expectations, writing, “In the aftermath of The Dark Knight, speculation raged about what would be next for this Batman, how his world would expand going forward, and who might take over to carry things forward once Nolan eventually departed. However, it became clear Nolan might not return, and when he did, it was clear he wanted to bring the series to a conclusion. So we never got a host of other Batman stories set in the aftermath of The Dark Knight, as we all hoped for and expected at the time.”
Many fans of Nolan’s trilogy echoed Hughes’ insight. They were eager to watch films exploring the years between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. While Nolan has distanced himself from working on more Batman films, eager fans were more than happy to have him return and make more films that explored these middle years and resurrect the character for stories that explored the events after The Dark Knight Rises.
Another Batman cinematic universe which attempts to explore the character and his world is Matt Reeves’ The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson. The film and its planned sequels and spin-offs attempt to be the starting point of a wider Batman Universe in how fans wanted Nolan’s films to be.
The Dark Knight trilogy influenced every comic book film in its wake, from Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman and Justice League to Reeves’ The Batman. Yet Nolan resisted creating extra films and spin-offs like Reeves and Warner Bros are planning with this latest character iteration.
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Nolan’s Batman could still return alongside Matt Reeves and Robert Pattinson’s version. Fan art on social media depicting The Dark Knight Trilogy in AI-generated images is all over the internet. Some fantastic images inspired by The Dark Knight universe depicted Bruce Wayne, Alfred, Joker and Batman as anime illustrations. The art was prompted in Midjourney by Tom Andy Wein and posted on the Midjourney Official Facebook page.
The collection is titled Batman Dark Knight Trilogy: The Anime. The depiction of famous characters from the film series is excellent. Rendering the actors in an anime style gives it a feeling of familiarity and freshness at the same time. If this were concept art for an animated film based on The Dark Knight Trilogy, it would be easy to accept as genuine or an official release. An anime Dark Knight series is a fantastic idea. The anime style could suit the more serious tone of the Dark Knight universe.
An anime series could be the ideal project to explore the lost years fans didn’t see between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. The potential series could also explore the events after The Dark Knight Rises. It could also further explore some of the main characters in the trilogy, like Scarecrow, Lucius Fox and Catwoman, for starters.
A Dark Knight anime series could be as groundbreaking as Batman: The Animated Series was in the 90s. The animated series was lauded because of its faithfulness to the source material and brilliant cast like Richard Moll and Mark Hamill. The storytelling was compelling, and it had a superb soundtrack. In essence, Batman: The Animated Series set the bar for what all Batman and other animated series and films should be.
It seems far-fetched, but Nolan returning to Warner as a producer on an anime Dark Knight series sounds fantastic. He could work on animation the same way Steven Spielberg used to when he was an executive producer on many of Warner’s animated shows like Freakazoid, Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, and Tiny Toon Adventures. Even if Nolan never returns to The Dark Knight, an anime with another worthy director could be a fantastic series.