Batman Begins star Christian Bale says he would be "more than happy" to return to the role of the Caped Crusader.
By Neil Smith
BBC News entertainment reporter
The British actor was speaking at a press conference in London that saw him field questions alongside the film's director Christopher Nolan and co-stars Sir Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Katie Holmes.
Christian Bale is the fifth actor to play Batman on the big screen
"I'm signed up for the next one," he told the BBC news website, adding: "Whether anyone else will be back for it is a different matter."
The 31-year-old plays millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne in the blockbuster movie - a prequel to the previous films that explores the origins of the comic book character.
"It's something I'm more than happy to come back for if people embrace this movie and enjoy my portrayal," he said.
"This character is so contradictory, so complex and has so many demons and issues there are many things that can be done further."
From Jack Nicholson's Joker in the original Batman to Danny De Vito's Penguin in Batman Returns and Jim Carrey's Riddler in Batman Forever, the villains have traditionally been at the centre of attention.
But British director Nolan said he was determined to make Batman himself the most interesting character.
"I felt it would be perfectly possible to have interesting, colourful villains that wouldn't overshadow the focus of the film," he said.
Nolan says he wanted to bring a "fresh approach" to the material
In Batman Begins, these include Irish actor Cillian Murphy as the masked Scarecrow and Britain's Tom Wilkinson as mob boss Carmine Falcone.
Liam Neeson, Rutger Hauer and Japanese actor Ken Watanabe also appear in a variety of sinister roles.
"In my mind I was thinking of the best of the Bond films," the director continued.
"There have been some wonderful criminal masterminds, but they've never got in the way of the story."
Best known as the creator of such gritty, downbeat thrillers as Memento and Insomnia, Nolan was initially considered a curious choice to follow Batman directors Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher.
However, the 34-year-old says he was keen to bring "a fresh approach" to the material.
"The studio had been thinking about ways to reintroduce the character for some time but didn't have a specific idea of how to do it," he said.
"It seemed to me that the origin story would be pretty fascinating.
"It's a story that's never been told on screen, and one that hasn't even been definitively addressed in the comics."
For Katie Holmes, playing the role of assistant district attorney Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins was "really exciting and fun".
Katie Holmes plays Christian Bale's love interest in Batman Begins
For the press assembled in central London, however, there was only one issue - the state of her highly publicised relationship with actor Tom Cruise.
Asked if the Hollywood star had proposed marriage, the former Dawson's Creek actress refused to be drawn, saying: "There's nothing official to report."
However, she did concede she was taking an interest in her boyfriend's controversial faith, Scientology. "Yes I am, and I'm really excited about it," she said.
She also spoke out against those who have suggested the romance is merely a publicity stunt to help promote their respective movies.
"I don't really care about the critics," she told reporters. "There are a lot of people who are really, really happy for us."
For Nolan, the decision to surround the relatively untested Bale with such established players as Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman and Sir Michael Caine was a pivotal one.
"I wanted to give Batman an epic treatment," he says.
"It's great to have recognisable faces in even the smaller roles. I was able to put together a dream cast, which is no less than Batman deserves."
Sir Michael Caine plays Bruce Wayne's loyal retainer Alfred
For their part, Freeman and Caine say they are delighted to have been asked to participate.
"I love being wanted," says Sir Michael, who plays Bruce Wayne's loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. "I spent 30 years in film not being wanted at all, so for me it's great."
His sentiments were echoed by Freeman, whose role as technical genius Lucius Fox marks his first appearance on screen since winning an Oscar for Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby.
"It's great to be wanted," he deadpanned. "I spent a few years not being wanted and this is better."
Batman Begins is out in the UK on Thursday.