Here’s the next step in the evolution of Hollywood’s never-ending circle of creative recycling: Batman is getting a reboot. They’re already planning to start the whole franchise over, even though the next installment in the current incarnation, The Dark Knight Rises, is still filming.

This comes straight from Warner Bros. chief Jeff Robinov who tells the LA Times: “We have the third Batman, but then we’ll have to reinvent Batman... Chris Nolan and [producing partner and wife] Emma Thomas will be producing it, so it will be a conversation with them about what the next phase is.”

The problem for Warners is that they don’t want to stop making Batman movies, they’re too profitable, but Christopher Nolan has already made it clear that he won’t direct another one after he finishes with The Dark Knight. The logical thing to do, would be to bring in someone else to pick up the story where he left off, but odds are without Nolan most of the cast won’t be back and everything about the fourth Batman movie will be completely different from the Nolan series anyway.

Creatively speaking, the right thing to do is probably to simply stop making Batman movies for awhile and let things cool off, but WB isn’t going to do that. Not just because Batman movies make insane amounts of money, but because they’re planning to follow the Marvel movie path and bring their DC superhero characters into a Justice League team-up movie. They’ll need Batman there to anchor that and they’ll probably want some sort of solo Batman movie to tie it all together, even if it ends up being nothing like the Batman we know and love now.

The last time WB tried to pull something like this off, by taking Batman in a new direction after the departure of a successful, franchise director, this is what happened:

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