In 2003—six years after the release of the almost impossibly awful Batman & Robin (featuring George Clooney and his infamously benippled Bat-suit)—Warner Bros. hired Christopher Nolan to direct a reboot of the series. And to bring the brooding superhero back to the big screen Nolan looked to the past. As admiring as he was of Tim Burton’s vision, Nolan wanted to bring back some of the epic myth-making of Richard Donner’s Superman while retaining a sense of realism. Among the films he and screenwriter David Goyer consulted during the writing process were Lawrence of Arabia, The Man Who Would Be King and Blade Runner.
As much as Burton’s casting of Michael Keaton was met with disbelief and hostility, Nolan’s giving the role to Christian Bale was greeted with praise. Nolan considered a number of Hollywood’s leading men—Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson and Billy Crudup among them—but chose Bale because he felt he could best portray the two sides of the internally conflicted protagonist.