Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy is revered by fans and critics and one of the greatest achievements in superhero cinema, with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight comfortably two of the greatest comic book adaptations ever made. The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t quite hold the same lofty status, and while there’s more than a few shaky moments throughout its epic running time, it’s not the unmitigated disasters certain corners of the internet would have you believe.
Nolan definitely doesn’t stick the landing though, with the last ten or fifteen minutes of the film still highly contentious almost a decade later. The reveal that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake originally went by the name Robin drew plenty of groans and eye-rolls, but fans would have still been on board for the idea of a solo spinoff tracing his ascension to the mantle of Caped Crusader.
Incredibly, it almost happened at the hands of Zack Snyder in Man of Steel, with the filmmaker admitting that during the very earliest stages of development on his Superman reboot, he considered connecting it to Nolan’s trilogy by having Gordon-Levitt make a cameo appearance as Batman.
“It was not 100% off the table. We did talk about it a little bit. The whole thing is that I think that it’s difficult, and it would have been interesting. If we had done that, the Batman in this movie would’ve probably been Joseph, which could’ve been cool. I like that his thing doesn’t get muddied by these other projects. I’m glad I didn’t f*ck with it because it’s a pretty nice trilogy and I enjoy it.”
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Man of Steel was much better served as a standalone story, because inviting direct comparisons to Nolan’s work would have been the wrong move, especially when it hit theaters just a year after The Dark Knight Rises. Snyder’s origin story for The Big Blue Boy Scout ended up launching a shared universe anyway, and looking at how muddled DCEU canon and continuity has become in the eight years since, imagine if it was all forced to be retroactively tied to the chain of events that kicked off back in the summer of 2005 in Batman Begins.