(LOS ANGELES) -- On July 20, director Christopher Nolan's groundbreaking Batman series comes to a close with the release of The Dark Knight Rises. The blockbuster series has been praised by comic fans and non-fans alike, and introduced a new generation to Bob Kane's classic Caped Crusader.
At a press conference for the film in Los Angeles on Sunday, Batman himself, Christian Bale, called the moment "bittersweet," knowing that he's promised he won't don the cape and cowl again without Nolan.
"He's saying it's time to say goodbye," Bale said, "so it's time to say goodbye."
Nolan -- who on Saturday became only the eighth director in Hollywood history to add his hand and footprints to the collection at Grauman's Chinese Theater -- explained choosing the comic bad guy Bane as The Dark Knight Rises' villain was a direct result of the late Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance as The Joker.
"[W]e wanted a very different villain for this. ...I wasn't going to set out to try and in some way better what Heath had done," the filmmaker said.
In fact, the Gotham City villain isn't even mentioned in The Dark Knight Rises.
"I took the decision early on that it would be inappropriate," Nolan said. "I felt that, you know, someone who was a friend and a colleague had suffered a terrible tragedy, and to try to reduce that to a plot point in a fictional universe felt wrong to me."
As for series newcomer Anne Hathaway, who plays Catwoman, she said she "got a chill" when she saw herself suited up with her fellow in-the-flesh comic co-stars. But as the only female, she had another challenge ahead of her: fighting in very high heels.
"It's part of being a woman," she joked. "The Devil Wears Prada was really good training for that...I kind of ran up and down Manhattan...so I just ran up and down Gotham."
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio