Christopher Nolan‘s three Batman films marked a very groundbreaking place for the superhero genre, and have been the inspiration for many of its kind ever since. One of the most iconic parts of the trilogy is Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne. While there were some who criticized Bale’s dark, raspy voice as the caped crusader, his performances were generally well-praised and well-regarded by critics and fans alike, so much so that Bale (American Hustle, The Big Short) was even asked to return as the character for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but he declined quite early on.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Movies about his new film Knight of Cups, Bale had a few things to say about his overall performance as Batman and how he felt like it was somewhat subpar compared to other aspects of the films. He was particularly resolute about it when dealing with Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker:
Heath turned up and just kinda completely ruined all my plans because I went, ‘He’s so much more interesting than me and what I’m doing.’ … And so I sort of go, ‘Eh I know I didn’t quite manage what I hoped I would through the trilogy.’ Chris did, but my own sense of self is like, ‘I didn’t quite nail it.’
It’s odd to see an actor as talented and accomplished as Bale downgrade his performance, especially since he has been nominated just in the past few years for both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor. His presence in the trilogy is a vital part of what made it such a grounded, realistic take on a genre that seemed like it was on its last leg with duds like Batman & Robin – released only eight years before Batman Begins. However, maybe these comments are simply showing how a great actor can be their own worst critic, even if most don’t see it that way.
Along with declining to reprise the role in future Batman films early on (for which Ben Affleck is now playing), he also told Yahoo Movies, “That’s enough, enough’s enough. We did our thing, it’s done. I got nothing else to offer it.” He clearly feels a strong connection to Nolan’s trilogy and looks like he wants to let others have their take on the character. No matter what, upcoming Batman performances will be quickly compared to Bale’s work, for better or for worse.
Bale can be next seen in Terrence Malick‘s Knight of Cups on March 4, 2016.