As most of you know, The Dark Knight Rises is more than likely going to be the last of the Nolan Bat-films. A sad truth, but one that was bound to happen eventually. DC also has a new Superman movie in the works, and is talking about redoing the Green Lantern flop in order to get a cache of hero films in the works for a Justice League film in an attempt to ape the monetary rewards that accompanied The Avengers box office numbers. With that in mind, they will need another look at Batman, because Nolan's vision of the caped-crusader will not fit in the overpowered world of superheros.
So, the question is, "What will the new Batman be like?" If Warner Brothers is smart they will keep Nolan on as a producer, as they are doing in the Zach Snyder Superman vehicle that is currently shooting. Regardless, they are going to want a feel and a tone that can mesh with the other heroes of the different titles. The Justice League film can't be made without first having a successful new Batman series. The character is just too popular and too much of a balance against Superman's "my hero has every power" mindset that is necessary for the Justice League to be appealing. So, what kind of Bruce Wayne are we going to get?
More than likely, it will be a dark, brooding, narcissistic lead with sharp features that will be a cartoonish embellishment of the Bale version; much like the one that can be seen in the Justice League animated feature. He will be brash, arrogant, and will seemingly have all of the answers. Alfred will also get a more prominent role, and will be featured as much more of a sarcastic side-kick to Mr. Wayne. Imagine Guy Ritchie's verison of Sherlock Holmes, but with Batman and Alfred instead. I'm not saying Alfred will go out in the field with Batman, but if you look at the similarities between the characters in the different forms of literature, and how well the Sherlock Holmes' films did, I think the move is inevitable.
So how about villains? Who will Batman fight in his first match-up in Gotham? It more than likely won't be the Joker. Heath Ledger's amazing performance will still be too fresh in everyone's mind to be revamped so quickly. Plus, this is probably going to be a young actor playing a young Batman, so the movie will need to focus on a villain that is able to show off the physical prowess of the Dark Knight. Bane is out because of his upcoming role in the swan-song of Nolan's versions, and Scarecrow was done as well; so who is left in Batman's rogue gallery that can do the job?
Killer Croc. Bear with me. Look at The Amazing Spider-Man. I've stated before that having a genesis film to a franchise is going to be what sets the tone for the movies that follow it. The reason we get a genetically and physically altered villain is because the rest of the series is going to want to incorporate villains that are also like that; taking a queue from the Ultimate Spider-Man universe to make their bad guys more viscerally terrifying. If you enter in a freak like Killer Croc you then establish the fact that this series is going to be filled with villains that are also equally as fantastic and based slightly more on fantasy than realism. This tone is a must-have if they are going to fit Batman into a movie with heroes like Superman and the Green Lantern.
Now, like the Lizard in the new Spider-Man, Killer Croc is going to have to be worked into another villain in order to leave the film open to an obvious sequel (which movies apparently love doing these days; hello Prometheus). So who have we not seen that could tie in with this former circus freak turned criminal? My guess would have to be the Penguin. Oswald Cobblepot. The ugly side of a coin whose other face is Bruce Wayne. The want to get back at a city that should have rightfully been his under his parent's company instead belongs to the Wayne Corporation. Penguin will resent Bruce Wayne for his looks, charm, girls, money, and success. What better way to help bring that competition down than to have it attacked by someone he may have known when he was abandoned by his parents (if they choose to go that origin route), or someone that he can sympathize with, or pretend to sympathize with, to get some muscle on his side.
After Batman defeats Croc, he'll realize that it won't take just his martial arts skills in order to defeat his opponent. This will humble the brash and headstrong version of Batman we are given in this film, much as the death of Vesper Lynd brought down the first-year version of 007 in Casino Royale. We'll probably also get a cameo from someone affiliated with one of the other superheroes we've seen beforehand, just to let people know that we are in the same universe, and that the Justice League movie is being crafted via these films.
As always, I could be wrong.