Bale reprised his role as Batman in the Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight. He trained in the Keysi Fighting Method, and performed many of his own stunts. The Dark Knight was released in the U.S. on July 18, 2008 and stormed through the box-office, with a record-breaking $158.4 million in the U.S. in its first weekend. It broke the $300 million barrier in 10 days, the $400 million mark in 16 days and the $500 million mark in 43 days, three new U.S. box office records set by the film. The film went on to gross over $1 billion at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-highest grossing movie worldwide of all time, before adjusting for inflation.
In 2009, Bale played John Connor in McG’s Terminator Salvation and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Bale starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in the David O. Russell-directed 2010 drama The Fighter, for which he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and thirty other awards in 2011. Near the end of his acceptance speech during the televised Golden Globes awards ceremony, Bale complimented Robert De Niro by saying he was “the shit”. The comment was censored by NBC.
While filming Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War in December 2011, Bale and a CNN crew attempted to visit Chen Guangcheng, a blind “barefoot lawyer” under unofficial house arrest for his activism against China’s One Child Policy. While on camera, Bale was punched, shoved, and denied access by dozens of Chinese security guards who failed to recognise him. Bale later stated that he had wanted “to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is”. Video footage also showed Bale and the CNN crew having stones thrown at them, and a minivan then chased their car for more than 40 minutes. In April 2012, Chen escaped his house arrest and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. On 19 May 2012, Chen, his wife, and his two children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York City. On 24 October 2012, Chen received the Human Rights Award from the New York-based NGO Human Rights First, presented to him by Christian Bale.
In 2012, he reprised his role again for the finale The Dark Knight Rises, released on 20 July 2012, which made Bale the longest-lasting actor to portray Batman on film to date. Following the shooting at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, he visited survivors in an Aurora, Colorado hospital.
In September 2012, Christian Bale flew 4-year-old leukemia patient Jayden Barber and his family out to California for lunch date at Disneyland’s Club 33, and later in early 2013, he put a smile on the face of an 8-year-old Batman fan, Zach Guillot, who’s battling leukemia, by talking to him over the phone, and sending him Batman goodies.
In 2013, Bale portrayed Russell Baze in Scott Cooper’s thriller Out of the Furnace, and starred in American Hustle, which reunited him with director David O. Russell, after their work on The Fighter. After losing 60 pounds for his role in The Machinist, in 2013 Bale went to great lengths to play Irving Rosenfeld, a con man and the hero of American Hustle. He gained 43 pounds, shaved his head to yield a realistic comb over, and affected a slouch, which resulted in a herniated disc in his back, shortening his height by 3 inches. De Niro, who had a cameo role in the film, reportedly did not recognize him when they were introduced.Bale starred as Moses in Ridley Scott’s Biblical epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, which was released on 12 December 2014.
Bale starred in Adam McKay’s biopic The Big Short (2015), a film based on the book of same name by Michael Lewis about the financial crisis of 2007–08. In the film, Bale played Michael Burry, a neurologist-turned-hedge fund manager with Asperger syndrome and an ocular prosthesis. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern found his performance “scarily hilarious—or in one-liners and quick takes, deftly edited.” The film earned Bale nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Bale appeared in Knight of Cups directed by Terrence Malick, he was set to appear in Song to Song but was cut from the film. Bale was attached to star as the famed auto sport legend Enzo Ferrari in an untitled film directed by Michael Mann but had to drop out after health concerns over the weight gain necessary to play the iconic carmaker.
In the historical drama The Promise (2016), set during the Armenian Genocide, Bale played an American journalist who becomes involved in a love triangle between himself, an Armenian medical student (played by Oscar Isaac) and a woman (Charlotte Le Bon). Bale worked with director Scott Cooper again for the period western Hostiles (2017), in which Bale starred as a U.S. Cavalry officer escorting a Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their home in Montana. The Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy praised his “expertly judged lead performance” in the film.