From Drew McWeeny at HitFix comes this tantalizing rumor: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is "absolutely" going to play Batman in Warner Bros. forthcoming Justice League film based on the DC Comics superheroes. Citing unnamed sources, the report also indicates the Dark Knight Rises star, who emerged from that film as Gotham City's new Batman, will appear in cape and cowl much earlier than Justice League's 2015 release.

If it's not already obvious where this is going, consider this a SPOILER WARNING for a movie whose title I cannot even mention because to do would in and of itself be a potential spoiler.

Via HitFix:

The more insistent the drumbeat has become, the more poking around I've been doing, and it's looking like we may see Gordon-Levitt in the suit earlier than that. They're a long way from filming anything "Justice League" related, but they appear to be solidifying deals for Gordon-Levitt and, potentially, at least one other actor from the Nolan films to do... something.

Quite reasonably, McWeeny speculates that Gordon-Levitt's Batman may debut in Man of Steel, the Zack Snyder film based on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Superman, perhaps in the ending credits like Nick Fury in Iron Man and so on. The second character is anyone's guess, but McWeeny's money is on Gary Oldman's Commissioner Gordon. (Mine's on Anne Hathaway's Catwoman, because even as much as I liked the Dark Knight Rises' ending, it just seems crazy to leave that character on the table.)

There's a lot to be said about such a development, much of it positive in my view. Firstly, some background: it had always been understood that The Dark Knight Rises would be actor Christian Bale's final performance as the titular vigilante, and writer-producer-director Christopher Nolan's last word on the character as well. It had also been conventional wisdom that the Batman as envisioned by Nolan and Bale was the world's singular costumed hero, and that for reasons having to do with aesthetics and story he could not exist harmoniously alongside superpowered beings like Wonder Woman and Green Lantern. Finally, Warner Bros. executives had announced that following the final installment of Bale and Nolan's hugely popular trilogy, the Batman franchise would be rebooted but with some input from Nolan himself. That last bit was widely reported to be true, but Nolan later confirmed he wouldn't be involved with the process.

What this rumor does is answer the aforementioned conditions in a way so nicely that it's probably too good to be true: The Dark Knight Rises' climactic moments reveal that Gordon-Levitt's character John Blake (aka Robin John Blake) had inherited the Batcave and all its wonderful toys, leaving room in the story for a new Batman -- one born in the so-called Nolanverse, carrying with him some measure of the Nolan DNA that viewers have learned to trust all but unconditionally and that WB would surely wish to avail itself of; Christian Bale's Batman was the only superhero, that is still true, but now he's gone; John Blake's Batman is a new character whose aesthetic and narrative dimensions have yet to be so defined as to preclude participation in a crossover with other heroes; it would give composer Hans Zimmer another excuse to make that "bwaaaa-BWAAAAAAAAMMMM" noise; and, perhaps most crucially, virtually everyone who's inclined to see any superhero film has seen The Dark Knight trilogy -- they know Batman's story, they know John Blake's story, thus making an all-new Batman origin film manifestly unnecessary (for now). The only question that remains is simply whether you buy Gordon-Levitt in the mask.

As I said, it's so slick that I can scarcely imagine Warner Bros. following through on such a scheme, but then again that's what everyone said for years about the notion of a Marvel Cinematic Universe -- a collection of films that has set quite the precedent for filming last-minute post-credits scenes.

Man of Steel opens June 14, 2013.

More From ComicsAlliance