Christian Bale says that "The Dark Knight Rises" will be his and director Christopher Nolan's final Batman film.
"I wrapped a few days ago so that will be the last time I'm taking that cowl [hood] off. I believe that the whole production wrapped yesterday, so it's all done." Bale told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "Everything's finished. It's me and Chris - that will be the end of that Batman era."
"The Dark Knight Rises," the third installment in Nolan's critically and commercially successful reboot of the Batman franchise, is slated for release on July 20, 2012.
The 36-year-old British actor played Batman and the superhero's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, in Nolan's previous films, "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight", the latter of which starred the late Heath Ledger as the sinister Joker.
Newly-engaged actress Anne Hathaway will star in "The Dark Knight Rises" as Selina Kyle, whose alter-ego is Catwoman. In the DC comic books, the character is the love interest of Bruce Wayne, who masquerades as the superhero Batman.
"In many ways, she has the hardest job," Bale said of Hathaway. "There are a number of people who feel that the Catwoman role has been defined previously. So, I always saw Anne's role as being the toughest job of any of us. In my case, I've stopped referencing outside sources. I now reference Chris' own world of Batman as a guide to what I will continue doing."
Nolan also released some details of the highly-anticipated film, revealing that the sequel takes place eight years after the last installment.
"It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story," Nolan told Empire magazine. "We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after 'The Dark Knight.' So he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state."
Warner Bros. Pictures announced in April that Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt had joined the cast. According to the statement from the studio carried by the Associated Press, Oscar-winner Cotillard will play a character named Miranda Tate "a Wayne Enterprises board member eager to help a still-grieving Bruce Wayne resume his father's philanthropic endeavors for Gotham."
Both actors have worked with Nolan before in the 2010 film "Inception." The two actors joined their fellow "Inception" co-star Tom Hardy who will play as the villain Bane, an escaped convict who gains superhuman strength due to a series of drug experiments.
"With Bane, we're looking to give Batman a challenge he hasn't had before. With our choice of villain and with our choice of story we're testing Batman both physically as well as mentally," Nolan said of the character. "He's brutal. Brutal. He's a big dude who's incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and oriented fighting style. It's not about fighting. It's about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it's nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action."
Bale previously hinted that he would be donning the Batman suit for the last time for "The Dark Knight Rises" in November 2010, telling E! News, "The thing is, that this will be, I believe, unless Chris says different, the last time I'll be playing Batman."
Watch the trailer for "The Dark Knight Rises" below.