While promoting his new film "The Flowers of War", Oscar winner Christian Bale confirmed that his is all done playing Batman,

"I wrapped a few days ago so that will be the last time I'm taking that cowl off. ... I believe that the whole production wrapped yesterday, so it's all done. Everything's finished. It's me and Chris – that will be the end of that Batman era."

Rumors has been going around for a while that "The Dark Knight Rises" would be the final Batman film for not only Bale, but director Christopher Nolan.  The rumor was that the film would end in such a way that a reboot would be required for any further Batman films.  While speaking with "Empire" magazine, Nolan confirmed those suspicions as well as clarifing how long after "The Dark Knight" this film will take place,

"It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story. We left him 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."

Joining the cast for this film are Tom Hardy as the villain Bane, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake (rumored to be Batman's successor Azrael), and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate (believed to be the alias of Talia Al Ghul, the daughter Liam Neeson's character in "Batman Begins").  Neeson is also confirmed to reprise his role as Ra's Al Ghul in this film, however it is still unknown if he will be used in just flashback scenes or if the character has been ressurrected via a Lazarus Pit as he regularly is in the comics.  

Also new to this series is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman.  Other than Hathaway, actresses like Eva Green, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, Natalie Portman, Kate Mara, Jessica Biel, and Keira Knightly auditioned for the role.  Hathaway, Eva Green, Kate Mara, and Jessica Biel made it to the next round of screen tests, as which point Christian Bale said he knew Hathaway was the right choice,

"When Chris watched the screen test, he agreed that Anne did a wonderful job. In many ways, she has the hardest job. There are a number of people who feel that the Catwoman role has been defined previously. So, I always saw Anne's role as being the toughest job of any of us. In my case, I've stopped referencing outside sources. I now reference Chris' own world of Batman as a guide to what I will continue doing."

"The Dark Knight Rises" is set for release summer of 2012.  Along with Christian Bale, returning to the series will be Gary Oldman as Commissioner Jim Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Craine/Scarecrow. 

via IGN and Empire Magazine