In two months, Ben Affleck is taking over as the latest live-action Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - a role he’s already officially reprise for at least three more movies. For most of us, though, 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises is still a fresh memory. Following 1997’s disappointing Batman & Robin, director Christopher Nolan successfully rebooted the cinematic superhero in 2005 with Batman Begins, and after continuing the story in the enormously successful The Dark Knight, he concluded the Dark Knight trilogy in 2012 with The Dark Knight Rises. Although the movie earned many positive reviews from critics, it’s a mixed bag among fans - some feeling it was a lackluster conclusion to the overall epic trilogy. However, there’s one thing that can’t be denied: it’s one of the few Caped Crusader stories to give Bruce Wayne a definitive ending.

Because of Christopher Nolan wanting to tell a complete Batman story, as well as Warner Bros’ eagerness to kick off the DC Extended Universe, the Dark Knight trilogy is a shut book now. While there was talk shortly after the film’s release about whether the Dark Knight series could continue, be it in a John Blake-led Batman movie or a Catwoman spinoff, those ideas were quickly shot down. So unless DC decides in a decade from now that they want to do a comic book continuation, we’ll never officially know how this universe continued. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to figure out what would have happened afterwards to lay the groundwork for a fourth movie.

Before we give our thoughts on the Dark Knight universe might have looked following The Dark Knight Rises, let’s first recap how the threequel ended…

The Ending
The Ending
At the end of The Dark Knight Rises, with the help of Gotham City’s remaining police force, Batman was able to get control of the city back from Bane and finally defeated the breathing-impaired supervillain mano-a-mano - though it was Catwoman who delivered the killing shot. The problem was, the threat wasn’t over. That reactor set to explode and decimate the entire city was still somewhere out there, and although Commissioner James Gordon had prevented it from being remotely detonated, it was now in Talia al Ghul’s hands. Batman, Catwoman and Gordon were able to take out the truck carrying the bomb, but before she died, Talia destroyed the reactor so that they couldn’t put the core back into it for disarming. With no other alternative, Bruce was forced to attach the core to The Bat and fly it over the bay so it would detonate away from civilians. The problem was, the aircraft had to be flown manually, so in seconds, we watched Bruce Wayne seemingly perish saving everyone in his home city.

As the movie ended, we got our final taste of what life had ahead for the main players. Wayne Manor has been turned into an orphanage, while the rest of Bruce’s assets (that also weren’t seized to pay his debts) were bequeathed to butler extraordinaire Alfred Pennyworth. Commissioner Gordon continued his police work, but was surprised to see the Bat Signal back atop the GCPD rooftop. Lucius Fox discovered the The Bat’s autopilot issue had been fixed, seemingly by Bruce Wayne – suggesting that he actually survived the nuclear explosion. John Blake quit the police force, and after being left spelunking gear and a set of coordinates by Bruce, he found the Batcave. As for Alfred, he was understandably distraught over Bruce’s death, and felt that he had failed Thomas and Martha Wayne. However, when he went back to that cafe in Florence he mentioned earlier in the movie, he saw Bruce with Selina Kyle across from him, and with each giving a nod of recognition to one another, they went their separate ways.

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