With Batman finished for now, the future belongs to Marvel.
When The Dark Knight Rises leaves theaters (probably sometime after the sun has gone out), it will mark the end of arguably the most commercially and critically successful comic-book movie franchise of all time. Save for Marvel's loosely connected Avengers films, no series will have grossed more money at the box office, been subjected to more acute critical analysis, or garnered such devotion from both genre aficionados and outsiders.
This is all great for comic-book movies, which have now proven themselves not only to be a source of revenue but of genuine artistic worth. But what happens now? Has the genre peaked? In the wake of The Dark Knight Rises, it's time to look at the future of comic book movies and see where they might go from here:
The DC/Warner Bros. partnership is screwed
Warner Brothers, which owns DC Comics, is in no danger of folding, but their stake in the comic-book movie market is about to shrink dramatically. Looking at the somewhat surprising success of Columbia Pictures' Spider-Man's "unnecessary" reboot ($500 million so far worldwide) a mere five years after its last installment, it may be tempting for Warner Bros. to get Batman back in theaters as fast as possible. But The Amazing Spider-Man had the benefit of following the commercially successful but critically reviled Spider-Man 3 (it wasn't exactly like most fans felt director Sam Raimi's legacy would be spoiled by the reboot). Considering the success and inevitable enshrinement of the Dark Knight trilogy, Warner Bros. would be wise to put as much distance as they can between Christopher Nolan's final Batman film and the Caped Crusader's next adventure.