Christian Bale will go from American psycho to American hero in the lead role of the next Batman movie, due to start filming next year. The 29-year-old is the fourth actor to wear the cape and cowl in the movies, following Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney. ''What I see in Christian is the ultimate embodiment of Bruce Wayne,'' director Christopher Nolan (''Memento'') said in a Warner Bros. press release. ''He has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for.''
Bale -- who will be the first British Batman -- had his first major role in Steven Spielberg's 1987 film ''Empire of the Sun.'' He built a cult following with appearances in films like 1993's ''Swing Kids,'' before breaking through to wider audience with a chilling performance in 2000's ''American Psycho.'' He first demonstrated his action-hero potential in last year's ''Reign of Fire,'' which had him frequently shedding his shirt in order to combat dragons.
Nolan and David Goyer (''Blade'') wrote the screenplay for the new ''Batman,'' which will chronicle the Caped Crusader's ''early years,'' according to the Warner Bros. press release. From that description, the film may well draw from comic book writer/artist Frank Miller's acclaimed ''Batman: Year One,'' a series that depicted a learning-on-the-job Batman protecting a Gotham City plagued by corrupt police. (Miller had been working on a screenplay adaptation of his comic book back when Darren Aronofsky [''Pi''] was attached to the new ''Batman,'' but both men left the project.) There's no word on who the movie's villain might be, but it's definitely not Catwoman -- Halle Berry's playing her as a hero in a new movie of her own.