For over 70 years, the criminals of Gotham City -- widely regarded as a superstitious and cowardly lot -- have been kept in check by the vigilante known as Batman. But that's about to come to a stop, as the Caped Crusader has officially announced his retirement.
At least, this version of Batman: Confirming long-standing rumors, Christian Bale revealed in an interview with The Philippine Daily Enquirer that "The Dark Knight Rises" will be the final Batman movie for both himself and director Christopher Nolan.
Even the Joker is shedding a tear.
Not that the announcement is unexpected; after all, with "the Dark Knight Rises," which just finished shooting for a July 20, 2012 release, Bale and Nolan will have made their third Batman film in the past seven years. Still, considering how successful the franchise has been -- 2008's "The Dark Knight" earned over a billion dollars worldwide by itself -- both fans and executives at Warner Bros. can be forgiven for hoping they would keep at it for a long time to come.
No such luck, according to Bale.
"I wrapped a few days ago so that will be the last time I'm taking that cowl off," Bale said "I believe the whole production wrapped yesterday, so it's all done. Everything's finished. It's me and Chris - that will be the end of that Batman era."
Of course, just because Bale and Nolan are done with Batman doesn't mean the two won't collaborate further in the future on a different project, as once Nolan gets in bed with a star (metaphorically) he likes to keep them around. Look no further than "The Dark Knight Rises" co-star Tom Hardy, who was previously featured in Nolan's sci-fi blockbuster "Inception," for proof. Not that Nolan went easy on Hardy just because they're old pals, as the role of Bane forced the up and coming star to face his greatest challenge yet: His childhood adoration of Batman.
"There's a three-year-old in me that's going, 'Oh my God that's Batman! That's Batman and he’s going to hit me! But I love Batman!,'" Hardy told Empire. "Then I look in the mirror. And I hit him back. Twice as hard."'
Which means that Bale knows exactly how fans around the world feel right now: Punched in the gut. We'll miss you, Batman.