In today’s superhero movies there’s no such thing as a finite ending. Everything feeds into a sequel, spin-off or remake within Marvel and DC’s larger cinematic universes. Superhero franchises have become giant movie making machines where endings become teases for the next installment. But the one outlier of that cyclical trend was Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, which began before Marvel dominated movie screens.

The end of The Dark Knight Rises finds the city of Gotham honoring the fallen Batman as Alfred (Michael Caine) spots Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne alive and well in Europe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake discovers the Batcave. It’s an ending that hints Gordon-Levitt’s detective will take up the identity of the Caped Crusader.

While recently talking to CinemaBlend about his upcoming film Snowden, Gordon-Levitt looked back on his role in The Dark Knight Rises and how it was the perfect completion to Nolan’s trilogy:

I know we’re all used to the sort of Marvel movies, which are just kind of endless series. They don’t really have a beginning, middle, and end. But I think Nolan very much thought of that movie as a conclusion, and there’s a theme that runs through all three of those movies that begins in the first movie, runs through the second movie and it concludes in that moment where he says that Batman is more than a man, Batman is a symbol. And so to have another man other than Bruce Wayne kind of becoming Batman at the end of that trilogy, I think that’s the perfect ending to that story.

It’s hard to argue with him. It’s an ending that feels almost foreign in the landscape of current superhero franchises, and Gordon-Levitt’s reading of it also highlights what makes the trilogy such a special anomaly.  All criticisms aside, those movies gave us one complete story that found a hero hanging up the cape for the next vigilante to take over. It closed one chapter to hint at another, but the best part is we’ll never get to see that chapter. Gordon-Levitt will likely never put on the Batsuit (but hey, anything is possible in our reboot era), but it’s kind of awesome to think that somewhere out there he’s defending Gotham while Bale’s Wayne is sipping a coffee in an Italian cafe.


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