The Dark Knight Reprises? Christian Bale reportedly offered $50m to return as Batman in Man of Steel 2

The film will see Batman face off against Superman

In a payday which might make him as rich as his character Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale has reportedly been offered $50 million (£32 million) to reprise his star role as Batman in the next Superman film.

The two heroes were part of comic book legend's Justice League, which also included Wonder Woman.

The film, which follows this year's Man of Steel, would see DC Comics attempt to emulate Marvel's highly lucrative Avengers franchise, which brought together many of the publisher's biggest superheroes and scored the third highest US gross in film history.

Henry Cavill is assumed to be continuing in the role of Superman, which he debuted in Man of Steel - giving him a chance to pick up the franchise from that film's middling reviews.

Joining 2012's Avengers Assemble in the list of top ten earners are The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, in which Bale fought off two of the genre's most memorable baddies - Heath Ledger's Joker and Tom Hardy's Bane.

The Welshman - who also starred in The 3:10 to Yuma and American Psycho - has since suggested his days of capedly crusading might be over.

Last month, he said: “We were incredibly fortunate to get to make three [Batman films]. That’s enough. Let’s not get greedy.”

But according to the Press Association, a new eBook has quoted a source from Legendary Pictures saying the studio wants him on board.

As quoted in "Beyond Batman: The Unauthorised True Story of Christian Bale and His Dark Knight Dilemma", an insider said: "Why would Christian Bale walk away from what is certainly going to be either the first or second highest grossing movie in the history of cinema?

"He could probably make 50 million dollars for being in the movie 20 minutes. And it would be worth every penny to the studio."

The book, by Vincent Russel, added: "Sources close to Christian Bale have reportedly begun expressing their suspicions that Bale now views the Batman films in the same light that Robert Downey Jr views the Iron Man films."

Bale has also said of the role: “It’s a torch that should be handed from one actor to another. So I enjoy looking forward to what somebody else will come up with," and who might take the role in the 39-year-old's absence is a question of fevered debate.

Ladbrokes.com placed Josh Brolin at 2/1 favourite to play the next Bruce Wayne, with everbody's favourite tough guy/heart-throb Ryan Gosling in at second on 3/1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose character John Blake was tantalisingly revealed to have the real name "Robin" at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, is judged an outsider at 33/1.

Producers Warner are also thought to be planning a Justice League film. First introduced in a 1960 comic book, the group comprises Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, joined by Green Lantern and Aquaman.

Meanwhile, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston has teased fans with a suggestion that he might fancy a crack at playing Superman's arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor. Asked about whether he'd play the role, he told US news site Metro: “Give me a call.

"I like Lex Luthor. I think he’s misunderstood. He’s a loveable, sweet man."

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