After years of idle speculation and stupid rumors (Eddie Murphy as The Riddler? Really?), Christopher Nolan is finally talking about a follow-up to his mega-hit The Dark Knight. With a July 2012 release date already penciled in for the third film in the director's Batman reboot, Nolan and his brother are already hard at work on a new story for Gotham's caped crusader.

The filmmaker tells Empire (via Coming Soon) "My brother is working on the screenplay. We came up with a story that we are very excited about. We particularly like where we are taking the characters and what the ending is ..." He goes on to add the new film will be "the finishing of a story rather than infinitely blowing up the balloon and expanding the story."

Nolan stresses that he hasn't signed on to direct the new film yet, telling the magazine, "No I haven't," when asked. He adds, "there is a point where you're just being precious about it and people get annoyed, but the God's honest truth is I work on one movie at a time. I'm only capable of doing that, so my head will continue to be firmly in [Inception] for another few months."

However, he does answer one question: Will The Joker return for the third film? Head after the jump to find out ...

Speaking about The Joker and whether he'd recast the role, Nolan quickly shot back "No!", adding "I just don't feel comfortable about it." Another thing he doesn't feel comfortable about is merging characters like Batman and Superman into one film, noting, "Marvel are doing what they do and people will respond to that really well, or they won't," said Nolan. "It's not something I ever really applied a blanket rule to, but Marvel characters are very different to DC characters, and the key DC characters are very different to the minor DC characters. You've got to go back to that element of, 'What do I see when I close my eyes and think of Batman? What do I see when I close my eyes and think of Superman?' And for me a big part of that is their individuality. The yare extraordinary beings in an ordinary world. And the reason I think the two are fascinating is because Superman is very specifically superpowered and obviously otherworldly; Batman is very human and flawed. Theyr'e two very different characters, but there's an elemental feeling of power in the iconography of those characters. To me that's originally because they stood alone. I need to hang on to that in my imagining of them."

Aside from having Batman and Inception on his plate, the director has also taken on the role of mentor for the next Superman flick -- although he's not comfortable with the title, insisting his real job on that project is much more specific. Nolan explains that while he and co-writer David Goyer were discussing Batman ideas in the wake of the The Dark Knight, Goyer casually mentioned that he knew how to take on Superman. Nolan loved the idea and took it to Warner Bros., who were excited by it. Nolan won't helm that film, saying, "But it's not something for me to direct. It's something we were just trying to put together a vision for, and then find the right person to take it forward." Given the way he's successfully recreated Batman, this might be the perfect thing to get the Man of Steel's movie career back on track.

All in all, it's a comic nerd news extravaganza. Hit the comments and geek out.