OFFICIAL: Bale Cast As New Batman!!

In another encouraging sign that the new Batman film will be taken more seriously than the previous two, Warner Brothers Studios announced today that

It's no secret that Warner Brothers has mucked it up badly of late with the way they've handled the original Superman and Batman film series. The first two Superman films with Christopher Reeve were fantastic. Same with Batman and Michael Keaton. But then Warner Brothers got sloppy, and what resulted was the insultingly bad Superman III, SuperGirl, Batman Forever and Batman and Robin (Low budget Cannon Studios took over Superman IV). Their recent ideas for resurrecting Superman (including Nicholas Cage as Krypton do-gooder Kal-El) have bordered on the insane.

So it's with great pleasure I received the news that Bale has been cast in the lead role. This casting shows that someone at WB is seriously committed to making a top-notch, thrilling Batman entry. Bale is a great actor who has shown plenty of depth and range with material in this genre. He possesses a dark and brooding intensity that other actors up for the role, particularly Joshua Jackson, just didn't have.

With a first-rate director in Christopher Nolan, it appears the series is getting back to the fundamentals of what made it work in the first place. And thank God that Akiva Goldsman is nowhere to be found!

"What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne. He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for," Director Christopher Nolan said in a statement.

Bale, 29, made his breakthrough in Steven Spielberg's "Empire of the Sun" in 1987, playing a boy trying to survive in a Japanese-run POW camp in China.

His other credits include "Swing Kids" (1993), "Velvet Goldmine" (1998) and "Shaft" (2000). Bale's most infamous role was as the yuppie serial-killer in 2000's "American Psycho."

Warner Bros. is trying to resurrect the "Batman" franchise. The character became a top box office draw after director Tim Burton and star Michael Keaton made two hit movies "Batman" (1989) and "Batman Returns" (1992).

The films got a little campier when Joel Schumacher took over for 1995's "Batman Forever," with Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader. The next installment, 1997's "Batman & Robin," was a critical disaster that alienated many fans. It starred George Clooney.

Bale, who first drew critical attention for his starring role in "Empire of the Sun," has starred in such diverse motion pictures as "Little Women," "Portrait of a Lady," "Metroland," "American Psycho" and "Laurel Canyon."

"Memento" filmmaker Christopher Nolan will direct the movie, which is set to begin filming in early 2004. The movie is being written by David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, with Emma Thomas producing. The announcement was made today by Jeff Robinov, President of production for Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is set to depict the "early career" of The Dark Knight. Early indications are that some of the film is set in London, and perhaps one or both of Ra's Al Ghul or The Scarecrow will appear.

Robinov stated, "Now that we've found the best person to play Batman, we are really looking forward to moving ahead with the rest of our casting, and are excited about the exceptional group we are assembling."

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