THE BIG-SCREEN Dark Knight trilogy yielded to Superman this year, but fans still have so many questions about what many consider to be the ultimate Batman cinematic experience:

Is Christian Bale the greatest on-screen Batman? (Should he be considered given the debate over his bat-voice?)

Can Heath Ledger’s legendary, posthumous-Oscar performance as the Joker be topped?

Will Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Robin, John Blake, carry on the Dark Knight legacy as Batman or Nightwing?

Was Bane the most menacing villain Batman faced in the trilogy?

And no question about this francise is tougher than this:

Does a lover of The Dark Knight trilogy — the kind who already owns all three Bat-films on Blu-ray — shell out those fanboy-bucks for The Dark Knight Trilogy Ultimate Collector’s Edition?


(Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

The quick answer is no. Why pay for movies you already have? Especially given what comic books cost, there’s not much room in many fans’ comic budgets. But Warner Bros. knew you’d say that, which is why they’ve made the decision that much harder with some pretty great Bat-extras:

1. The trilogy gets major bat-points for presentation. It comes in a nice almost shoebox-sized white box with a black bat logo.

2. There’s a letter from Nolan, who talks about the 10-year experience of making The Dark Knight Trilogy.

3. The Blu-rays themselves come in a hard-cover, almost photo album-like book. The cover is from “Batman Begins” and features thousands of bats swarming to form a bat logo. Upon opening the book, the left page has a promotional image from each film (“Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”) and the right page contains the Blu-rays.

4. There’s a Dark Knight Trilogy special features Blu-ray disc — and the purchase is almost justifiable for these features alone. There’s a look at the making of The Dark Knight Trilogy,. with commentary from Nolan, various producers, movie critics and Warner Bros. executives. One of the best features: Screen tests of various actors, including Cillian Murphy wearing Val Kilmer’s old “Batman Forever” bat-suit, auditioning for the lead role. Murphy didn’t get the part, obviously, but you can see in the test the impression he made on Nolan and Co. — enough so to be cast as the franchise’s Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow.

And you think Bale’s bat-voice was debatable? Bale was the only actor who tried out for the part who thought it would be a good idea to change his Bruce Wayne voice when he had the bat-suit on (clearly channeling Michael Keaton’s dark-whisper Batman voice). All other actors used their normal voices while auditioning in the Bat-suit, and it just doesn’t work at all. There’s also the peek at (future Lois Lane) Amy Adams helping Bale with his screen test, and the audition of Anne Hathaway (who clearly had the role the minute she put on her cat-suit).

We’re also treated to insider information from Nolan, who admits that it took Morgan Freeman a lot of convincing to come on board on the movies, and that he initially wanted Gary Oldman to play Ra’s Al Ghul, but later offered him the role of Commissioner Gordon.

(There’s a 49-page photo booklet with promotional photos from all three films. Nothing an avid bat-fan hasn’t seen before, but nice when put together in one book. The set also includes 5 Mondo mini posters with artwork by Jock. Each frame-worthy poster is one of the trilogy’s villains — Ra’s Al Ghul, Scarecrow, Two-Face, The Joker, and Bane.)

There are three miniature, very well-crafted Bat-vehicles. The Batmobile, Bat-Pod and the Bat (plane). This is almost a deal-sealer and if you do purchase the trilogy set, your biggest decision might be whether to even take these out of the plastic.

As a massive package, this collector’s edition looks like a last-chance money grab by Warner Bros. with the bankable franchise. But it’s well-crafted and well-thought-out.

So is it worth purchasing if you already have the films? Maybe not. Extra commentary and and bat-goodies might not be enough to reach for the cash stash in your utility belt, especially when the movies themselves and their special features aren’t different from the Bat-flicks you already own. But for those fans who decide it’s worth adding to their collection, they likely won’t have buyer’s remorse.

"The Dark Knight Trilogy" collector’s edition set. (Courtesy of Warner Bros./.)