First off, congratulations for pulling off a successful, both critically and commercially, trilogy. I wholeheartedly recommend Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies to everyone. Linked together, they are a masterpiece of storytelling that not many creators could pull off.
Which brings us to the point of this article, following up that work. You must be thinking about it. Marvel is raking up profits with not only their own studio but with their licensed properties as well. THE AVENGERS is the biggest movie of the year. Third of all time. And if any DC character can match that success, it’s Batman. Everyone loves Batman. How to start over though? Another dramatic take that could very well be hurt by people’s fondness for Nolan’s? A more “superhero” take to lead to a Justice League movie? All an out homage to Batman ’66? I’m suggesting the unconventional option. An Elseworlds movie.
Red Rain. Gotham By Gaslight. In Darkest Knight. All great stories that would make incredible movies. Batman’s origin can basically happen the same way in any time period without losing an ounce of resonance. With only a few frames of screentime and the public awareness of Batman his origin can be alluded to quickly and not obtrusively. Placing Batman in a different setting gives you a way to separate the new film from the trilogy. It’d be hard for someone to think about the Nolanverse while seeing Batman facing vampires or racing though cobblestone streets in a horse-drawn carriage. And the most important factor: you can do these movies almost concurrently. Why wait three, five years between movies when you can have a whole different cast and crew working on the next while the first is still being filmed?
What my suggestion boils down to is to not let convention dictate what your next step should be. You’ll get a lot of people saying “audiences will be confused” and “everyone is expecting blah blah,” but that’s the old way. There are three viable interpretations of Sherlock Holmes active on TV and in theaters. You have a character that can function on so many levels and you control every way it could be presented. Why not exploit it?
Let Batman fly.