Christian Bale was disappointed in his Batman performances, especially compared to Heath Ledger: 'I didn't quite nail it'

Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" opened in theaters 15 years ago.

(Photo: Everett Collection, Getty Images)
(Photo: Everett Collection, Getty Images)

Christian Bale is inargualby one of the best actors in the business. The 49-year-old Oscar winner has been consistently delivering eclectic, fully committed, knockout performances for decades, dating back to his 1987 teenage breakout in Empire of the Sun and including American Psycho (2000), The Machinist (2004), The Fighter (2010), American Hustle (2013), Vice (2018) and Ford v. Ferrari (2018), among many others.

Reviewers love him, audiences love him, awards voters love him.

The Welsh actor might, however, be his harshest critic — and Bale will even tell you he wasn’t particularly pleased with one of his most famous (and profitable) characters: Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

“I didn’t quite manage what I hoped I would throughout the trilogy,” Bale told us during a 2016 interview of his work beginning in 2005’s Batman Begins and ending in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. “Chris did, but my own sense of self is like, ‘I didn’t quite nail it.’”

His confidence wasn’t helped by the arrival of a certain scene-stealing nemesis in 2008’s The Dark Knight (which opened in theaters 15 years ago, on July 18, 2008).

That was Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar (among other trophies) for his off-the-rails portrayal of the Joker.

“Heath turned up, and just kind of completely ruined all my plans,” Bale said. "Because I went, ‘He’s so much more interesting than me and what I’m doing.’”

Still, Bale, who returned to the world of superhero movies in 2022 as the big bad in Thor: Love and Thunder, recently left the door open to someday reprising his role as the Caped Crusader — under one condition.

“That would be a matter of Chris Nolan,” the actor told “If he ever decided to do it again, and if he chose to come my way again, then, yeah, I would consider it. Because that was always our pact between each other. We said we would only ever make three, and then I said to myself that I’d only ever make it with Chris.”

Not like Bale is holding his breath, but as of now that sounds highly unlikely.

Asked if he’d ever make another superhero movie while on the press tour for his latest prestige drama, Oppenheimer, Nolan replied bluntly, “No.”