As the release date for July's highly anticipated new thriller "Inception" draws near, there will be more and more opportunities for director Christopher Nolan to talk about his other upcoming projects; a third "Batman" and his producing role on an untitled "Superman" film.  In the past, Nolan was cagey when discussing future films not even in the shooting stage, but the success of "The Dark Knight" seems to have changed that.  Speaking to EMPIRE magazine, Nolan provided a good deal of insight into his thoughts on both buzzed about projects.

First off, the screenplay for the third "Batman" isn't completed yet, but the storyline is.  Nolan volunteered, "My brother is working on the screenplay. We came up with a story that we are very excited about. We particularly like where we are taking the characters and what the ending is... There are things for me to be very excited about in addressing the characters again. But ultimately it always comes down to the script, and can we make a great film from this? That's something I will firmly be turning my attention to figuring out fairly soon."

The acclaimed filmmaker then noted, probably much to the relief of star Christian Bale, that this film would be "the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story."

Going for broke, Empire asked whether the the Dark Knight could face or encounter the Joker again.  This always seemed improbably after star Heath Leger passed away after shooting and won an Oscar or his iconic performance. The director made it clear the Joker returning won't happen on his watch.

"No," Nolan says. "I just don't feel comfortable about it."

And believe it or not, Nolan hasn't actually signed on to direct the picture yet.  No joke.  Thankfully, the filmmaker understands that people in the industry think that's a little strange, especially when it's expected and the payoff is very, very lucrative.  He pleads, "There is a point where you're just being precious about it and people get annoyed, but the God's honest truth is I work on one movie at a time. I'm only capable of doing that, so my head will continue to be firmly in ['Inception'] for another few months."

As for "Superman," Nolan made it clear he won't consider directing the film and is only on board as a "mentor," although he'd prefer not to describe it that way.

"What it is, while David Goyer and myself were putting together the story for another Batman film a few years ago - you know, thrashing out where we might move on from 'The Dark Knight' - we got stuck," Nolan recalls. "We were just sitting there idly chatting and he said, ' By the way, I think I know how you approach Superman,' and he told me his take on it. I thought it was really tremendous. It was the first time I had been able to conceive of how you would address Superman in a modern context. I thought it was a very exciting idea."



Fans who keep hoping that Nolan will find a way to bring the World's Greatest heroes together will also need to keep dreaming.  While not necessarily insulting the Marvel Studios concept of movie "continuity," he's clearly not a fan.

"Marvel are doing what they do and people will respond to that really well, or they won't," Nolan told the publication. "It's not something I ever really applied a blanket rule to, but Marvel characters are very different to DC characters, and the key DC characters are very different to the minor DC characters. You've got to go back to that element of, 'What do I see when I close my eyes and think of Batman? What do I see when I close my eyes and think of Superman?' And for me a big part of that is their individuality."

Nolan added, "They are extraordinary beings in an ordinary world. And the reason I think the two are fascinating is because Superman is very specifically superpowered and obviously otherworldly; Batman is very human and flawed. They're two very different characters, but there's an elemental feeling of power in the iconography of those characters. To me that's originally because they stood alone. I need to hang on to that in my imagining of them."

"Inception" opens nationwide on July 16. The untitled "Badman" arrives in theaters July 20, 2012 and "Superman" at the end of 2012.
 

[Credit to Coming Soon for a heads up on the story]