We reported early today a rumor that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in talks to become the new Batman, and in just a few hours, there has already been a lot of talk about how little sense that makes. So let's explore how exactly Joseph Gordon-Levitt becoming Batman fits with the continuity of Christopher Nolan's Batman series. WARNING: Massive The Dark Knight Rises spoilers lie within.
So, the main argument against JGL playing Batman is that he was clearly set up as Robin in TDKR. Well, yes and no. While the big reveal at the end of the film was that John Blake's real name is Robin, his character does not match up with any previous incarnation of the Batman sidekick.
Clearly Nolan was playing with the idea of who John Blake really was, in relation to the larger continuity of his universe, otherwise he wouldn't have included such a blatant nod to the Boy Wonder. However, the entire film seemed to be setting up a continuity where Robin (who seems to be a sort of Dick Grayson/Jason Todd hybrid) becomes Batman. Here's the evidence:
1) John Blake's real name is Robin. Yes, it's a nod to the character we all know and love, but what superhero just uses their first name as their persona? The only thing that could have made Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne more obvious as Batman would have been if his persona was just called Bruce. "Can you believe that Bruce turned out to be Bruce Wayne!??"
2) From the get-go, The Dark Knight Rises was pounding a strong theme into the audience's heads (I'd argue a little too blatantly): that Batman is not a man, but a persona, an idea, a spirit of vigilante justice that lives on forever. That's why it felt so unfair that Wayne survived at the end of the movie. Weren't you telling us the whole time that he was going to die? But, I guess retirement is just as good. So, with Wayne out of the picture, there's an opening for a new Batman, and Robin John Blake is the perfect candidate.
3) There is a DC continuity where Robin becomes the Batman-cognate Nightwing. Is it that much of a stretch for him to become Batman instead?
4) The end of the movie. The end of the movie. The end of the movie. The most important parts of that resolution were the John Blake bits. He receives a locator to go find the Batcave. He finds the Batcave. He ascends (The Dark Knight Rises anyone?) on the platform towards all the cool Batman stuff. Also, Wayne repaired the Bat Signal for James Gordon, clearly for him to be able to call on a new Batman. All this points to Wayne handing the persona over to Blake.
Now, Nolan has denied that he was writing in a future for Gordon-Levitt in the DC universe. So, all this likely could have been conceived as just a fun little wrap-up to his franchise, and an open-ended "the spirit of Batman continues" conclusion.
But that doesn't mean that Warner Bros. can't work with that to create a new continuity to gear up for its Justice League movie. Some think that Gordon-Levitt could be introduced as early as Man of Steel, so maybe some of this backstory could be explained then. What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below!