Extra! Extra!! Christian Bale offered $50 million to play Batman again!
If you’ve scanned the superhero sites, you’ve inevitably read reports that Bale is being lured back to the Batcave with a $50 meeellion offer to square off against Henry Cavill’s Superman in Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel sequel. Fans of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and Bale’s dark portrayal of the Caped Crusader immediately rejoiced, convincing themselves that Bale’s previous denials and his desire to pass the torch to another Batman could quickly be erased by cold hard cash. Perhaps that will eventually be the case. But not today.
The recent online buzz erupted after the British Sun newspaper reported that “Bale is facing extraordinary pressure” to return to the character for a huge payday. The Sun‘s sources, however, aren’t exactly Warner Bros. insiders or members of Bale’s inner circle. Instead, the tabloid was blindly relying on a new ebook titled Beyond Batman: The Unauthorized True Story of Christian Bale and His Dark Knight Dilemma. It’s a 27-page mini-book from an author named Vincent Russel, who’s also written an unauthorized biography of WWE superstar CM Punk.
In Beyond Batman, Russel writes about a New Year’s Eve 2012 conversation about a potential Justice League movie that he had with a friend who worked at Legendary Pictures during the making of the Dark Knight films:
“’Why would Christian Bale walk away from what is certainly going to be either the first or second highest grossing movie in the history of cinema,” he asked, when the subject of Justice League was raised. … ‘He could probably make $50 million for being in the movie 20 minutes,’ my friend observed. ‘And it would be worth every penny to the studio.’ … Sources close to Christian Bale have reportedly begun expressing their suspicions that Bale now views the Batman films in the same light that Robert Downey, Jr. views the Iron Man films. Although Downey has appeared as Tony Stark in four films in less than a decade, he’s hardly typecast as only Iron Man. Downey has balanced his action film escapades with other projects that have harnessed his talents and earned critical acclaim in the process. … Christian Bale’s future success as a Hollywood draw may need Batman every bit as much as the Batman franchise needs Bale for a few more rounds. … It goes without saying that Bale’s managers, friends, and representatives are all telling him the same. And as anyone who has ever worked with Bale will admit, the actor is incredibly sharp, business savvy, and perceptive. As a result, it seems highly unlikely that Christian Bale will bolt from Batman when the bat signal is still glimmering above the Hollywood sign with such tangible fervor.”
Got all that?
A “former colleague” of Russel’s told him seven months before Man of Steel even opened in theaters that Bale could probably get $50 million for appearing in a subsequent Justice League movie. Now, let’s assume Russel’s former colleague is a top Legendary executive and that everything he said accurately reflects the company’s thinking… That still doesn’t equate into what’s being reported by many outlets today. There is no $50 million offer, based on a speculative conversation that took place eight months ago. The confusion isn’t necessarily the fault of Russel — who relied on “exclusive interviews, online research” for his $2.99 ebook — but the number of outlets that hurriedly ran with the news, most likely because of their steadfast belief that this type of announcement is inevitable. Of course Warner Bros. is going to make a final push to get Bale back, goes the thinking. And $50 million seems about right (I guess?) Reportedly, director Zack Snyder wants a slightly older, wearier Batman to battle Cavill’s younger Superman. That would be Bale, who’s only 39, but he certainly pulled that off in The Dark Knight Rises. Warner Bros. and Bale’s rep both declined to comment about the newest speculation, but that could mean anything or nothing.
For those who want to go down the rabbit-hole, Bale starts shooting Exodus, his Moses epic with Ridley Scott, this fall, but he’s not yet officially booked for anything in early 2014, when Batman vs. Superman is tentatively scheduled to shoot. So he’s potentially available. Bale also wouldn’t be the first actor to feign disinterest in order to secure a better payday. He’s either completely content with walking away from the franchise, or he’s playing this non-negotiation negotiation perfectly. Or both. Conceivably, he could return as Batman for one epic battle with Superman, really die the noble death he faked in Dark Knight Rises and then hand the keys of the Tumbler over to his new successor, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for the subsequent Justice League movie — STOP!!! See, I understand why we care and why we were so willing to believe the $50 million offer report. But the fact is, Warner Bros. is still looking for its Batman, and last we heard from Bale on the matter, he said, “I enjoy looking forward to what somebody else will come up with.” Admittedly, that was in July, but that was also seven months after the sketchy conversation that launched the $50 million rumor.