When The Dark Knight Rises hits theaters on July 20, 2012, remember it well, for it will be the last time Christian Bale will star as the Caped Crusader.

I wrapped a few days ago so that will be the last time I'm taking that cowl [Batman hood] off, Bale told the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I believe that the whole production wrapped yesterday, so it's all done. Everything's finished. It's me and [director Christopher Nolan] - that will be the end of that Batman era.

The joint forces of Bale and Nolan originated in 2005, when the two attempted to breathe new life into the flailing franchise, based on a series of graphic novels. The first film, Batman Begins, earned $372 million worldwide; its sequel, The Dark Knight - co-starring the late Heath Ledger as The Joker - earned $1 billion globally.

To go out in style, The Dark Knight Rises adds stars Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy, to a cast that sees the return of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.

It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story, Nolan told Empire Magazine. We left him [Batman] in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after 'The Dark Knight.' So he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state.