It's been eight years since British actor Christian Bale donned the bat suit for the last time in 2012's The Dark Knight Rises. And his retirement as Gotham's finest led to Ben Affleck putting on the famous cape in 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, as well as Justice League in 2017.
However, after Affleck quit the role amid fears it would negatively impact his sobriety, industry rumours claim Bale, 46, could become Batman once more.
According to a report by We Got This Covered, Warner Bros wants the actor to return as Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter-ego Batman, in the coming The Flash.
And the film looks set to reunite previous Batmans, with Michael Keaton making a cameo after first playing the Caped Crusader in 1989's Batman.
Bale: ‘I always said no to a fourth film’
With industry rumours claiming Bale would only consider returning to the role with director Christopher Nolan's blessing, the Oscar-winning actor had previously insisted he would not return after completing the Dark Knight trilogy, which comprised 2005's Batman Begins, The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012.
"When they came [to us after Batman Begins] and said, 'You want to go make another?' It was fantastic, but we still said: 'This is it. We will not get another opportunity,'" Bale told The Toronto Sun. "Then they came and they said, 'OK, let's do the third one.' Chris [Nolan] had always said to me that if we were fortunate to be able to make three we would stop. 'Let's walk away after that'."
“When they inevitably came to us and said, ‘How about a fourth?’ I said, ‘No. We have to stick to Chris’s dream, which was always to, hopefully, do a trilogy. Let’s not stretch too far and become overindulgent and go for a fourth’.”
‘Personal problems’ rule out Affleck’s return
Affleck bowed out of playing Bruce Wayne again despite being tipped to helm The Batman. Instead, the titular role went to British Twilight star Robert Pattinson, and the film is due for release in June 2021. Affleck later ruled himself out of directing duties, too, with the job going to Cloverfield director Matt Reeves.
"I showed somebody The Batman script," Affleck told The New York Times. "They said, 'I think the script is good. I also think you'll drink yourself to death if you go through what you just went through again'."
Admitting that his troubled time filming Justice League along with his marriage woes – he was splitting from actress Jennifer Garner at the time, with whom he has three children – lead him to abandon any idea of taking up the Batman mantle again, he said: "I started drinking more and more when my marriage was falling apart. You're trying to make yourself feel better ... but that ends up making your life worse.
"Then you do more of it to make that discomfort go away. Then the real pain starts. It becomes a vicious cycle you can’t break. That’s at least what happened to me.”