Given that Man of Steel was almost inextricably linked to Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, it’s reasonable to assume that Christian Bale would have reprised his role as Batman if the DCEU had followed a similar path.
While Man of Steel was a standalone film that launched the DC Extended Universe with Ben Affleck as Batman, it’s possible that Christian Bale’s Dark Knight could have made a cameo. Given that The Dark Knight Rises ended with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s ‘Robin’ Blake receiving the Bat-mantle, he made a cameo, albeit in a supporting role.
Zack Snyder recently stated that there were early discussions during production about linking his 2013 Man of Steel feature to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but that those plans never materialized.
This was most likely due to the tone of The Dark Knight trilogy being significantly more grounded than the more fantastical elements like aliens and superpowers that have since been depicted in the DCEU.
However, it’s difficult not to ponder what may have been, especially with certain DC films in development that will incorporate Batman, such as 2022’s The Flash, starring Ezra Miller as the eponymous character.
While Gordon-Batman Levitt would have been the principal Batman moving forward in this hypothetical DCEU, Bale’s return as a retired mentor, similar to the version of Bruce Wayne shown in the animated Batman, could have been a possibility in the continuation of his story.
However, it’s likely that Bale’s Batman stepped in for either Micheal Keaton or Ben Affleck, who will portray their respective versions of the Caped Crusader in The Flash, purportedly serving as mentors to Barry Allen as he travels across the multiverse.
It’s feasible that the more grounded tone and nature of The Dark Knight trilogy would have tempered more of the DCEU’s wilder elements across the board. While Barry Allen (and other Justice League characters) may have still been introduced, elements like The Flash’s ability to time-travel and jump to alternate universes may have been limited, if not entirely absent.
Christian Bale had been the prominent version of Bruce Wayne in the DCEU rather than Ben Affleck, his path as the new Dark Knight could have been depicted, as could Gordon- Levitt’s.
While seeing more of Christian Bale’s Batman would have been fascinating, it’s probably for the best that Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and the subsequent DCEU failed to connect with The Dark Knight.
Nothing prevents Bale or Gordon Levitt from making a cameo appearance in The Flash when Barry crosses the cosmos in his future flick.
Even when the cameras are rolling, The Flash is still under development in some fundamental ways. Because the movie has been mired in development hell for years, with numerous directors coming and departing, it’s only natural that the production will be as hectic as the pre-production era.
Fans will undoubtedly be hoping that director Andy Muschietti is able to bring it all together at the conclusion, as Scarlet Speedster’s first solo film has the potential to be something special.