Usually, Superman is the guy who does the rescuing. But after 2006’s “Superman Returns” underperformed at the box office, it looked like the comic book hero’s movie career might be finished.

So Hollywood called in their own Man of Steel, director Christopher Nolan, to help revive the struggling franchise, just like he did with “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” In a lengthy interview with the Los Angeles Times, Nolan talked for the first time about his plans for relaunching Superman, and his intentions to make a third and final Batman film.

Nolan admits in the interview that the idea for his take on Superman came about when he was stuck while working on the story for the next Batman movie. In a fit of writer’s block, David Goyer, who crafted the stories of the previous two films with Nolan, made an off-hand proposal of what they could do with a Superman movie.

“He basically told me, ‘I have this thought about how you would approach Superman,'” Nolan said. “I immediately got it, loved it and thought: That is a way of approaching the story I’ve never seen before that makes it incredibly exciting.”

Goyer recently left his position as the showrunner of ABC’s drama “Flash Forward” to begin work on the Superman screenplay. Nolan will not be directing the film himself; instead he will oversee its development as a producer.

The other bombshell in the interview is that Nolan intends for his follow-up for the hugely successful “The Dark Knight” to be his last Batman film. He says that his brother Jonathan, who co-wrote the last movie, is currently at work on the screenplay. Nolan says that finding an ending to Batman’s story is the main appeal for him to return to Gotham City.

“I’m very excited about the end of the film, the conclusion, and what we’ve done with the characters,” Nolan tells the Times. “Unlike the comics, these things don’t go on forever in film and viewing it as a story with an end is useful.”

Nolan also says he and his writing partners are applying the lessons they learned from the Batman series and applying it to Superman. He said they are “trying to find an incredible story in a way that audiences can engage with it the way they engage with contemporary action films.” Just don’t expect the two superheroes to cross paths. Nolan makes it clear in the interview: “Each [superhero] serves to the internal logic of the story. They have nothing to do with each other.”

Ever since Nolan’s involvement in a new Superman film was announced, the internet has been flooded with rumors and speculation about the project. Nolan’s wife and producing partner, Emma Thomas, laughs off the gossip, telling the Times, “I don’t know where this stuff comes from.” And as for which villain Batman will face in his final outing, all Nolan will say is “It won’t be Mr. Freeze.”

Before we see the return of either costumed hero, though, Nolan will be bringing an original story to the screen — his first since his breakout indie “Memento.” Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, “Inception” is a globe-trotting, mind-bending thriller that will hit theaters on July 16. While there have been unconfirmed reports that the third Batman film will begin production later this year, the Times article says that Superman won’t be flying onto screens until 2012 or 2013.

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