With Gunn and Peter Safran preparing to reveal the first projects in a new DC slate in a matter of weeks, the DC Studios CEOs have yet to confirm who will be getting the boot - although a younger version of Superman is set to succeed Henry Cavill's Supes.
Nonetheless, the latest reports appear to claim the entire Justice League will be recast in favor of a new batch of actors. Of course, this means Ben Affleck's tenure as Batman will be coming to an end after only a handful of appearances.
Out of DC's premier superhero team, the Dark Knight may be in the toughest spot, since Robert Pattinson's journey has already been confirmed to continue in The Batman franchise - which will remain a standalone entity from the DCU.
However, Gunn has revealed Batman will, as expected, have a "big part" in the next era of DC storytelling. So, that means another actor will soon need to take on the mantle, and The Direct has chosen ten possible candidates who we think have the acting chops and demeanor that could work well acting alongside a Superman in his 30s.
As many may be aware, Nicholas Hoult has been a popular choice to play Batman for many years now. In fact, he was even the chief rival to Robert Pattinson when Matt Reeves was in the final stages of casting Bruce Wayne for The Batman.
Perhaps, with Hoult just recently having been considered at Warner Bros. for a different Batman, Gunn may revisit his name in casting his own Dark Knight.
This wouldn't even be Hoult's first foray into the superhero game as he was the actor behind Hank McCoy, aka Beast, in the X-Men movies of the 2010s.
The British star has shown he can pull off the wealthy suaveness of Wayne in The Great, has had superhero action experience through his X-Men days, and clearly has the look and physique of Bruce Wayne.
Continuing the theme of British stars, Game of Thrones and Eternals actor Kit Harington earns his spot on this list. The 36-year-old star has put in years of service to pop culture, and, perhaps due to his black Night's Watch cloak from playing Jon Snow, is easy to see in the Batman costume.
In 2018, rumors were swirling that Affleck was being recast, and Harrington was rumored to be on the watch list - reports even claimed Warner Bros. requested digital mock-ups of him in a Bat-suit. His reps quickly denied knowledge of that at the time, but maybe, if the reports were true, his name could come back up now.
But alas, his commitments to playing the MCU's Dane Whitman, and one day becoming the Black Knight, along with his upcoming Game of Thrones spin-off Snow, may keep him too busy to become a major player over at DC.
From one Game of Thrones and Eternals veteran to another, Richard Madden may be another contender to tackle Batman in the DCU.
Madden has demonstrated his potential as a leading man of action across Eternals, Game of Thrones, and Bodyguard, through all of which he certainly flexed his acting chops, but he continues to search for that major role he needs.
The Scottish star just recently lost out on the first billing in Ridley Scott's Gladiator 2 and had his MCU hero-turned-villain Ikaris killed off after just one outing, leaving his schedule wide open to cross the fence into the DC side as Batman.
After Netflix's Bridgerton became a viral sensation, the name Regé-Jean Page became associated with so many major starring roles, including DC's Dark Knight.
From being rumored to become the next Black Panther to leading the bookie's odds for James Bond, audiences have been determined to see Page find his big Hollywood break. Years later, the Netflix sensation has still yet to find that role to turn him into a huge star, and perhaps Batman could be just that.
Hopefully, Page would not be put off getting in business with Gunn's DC Studios based on his negative past with the comic book giant, as past reports have indicated he lost a Superman-related role in Krypton due to his race.
James Gunn has long shown his loyalty to the talent he has grown close with. Poulter now clearly stands among those after Gunn did extensive research into him before signing him on for Vol. 3.
With the director now taking charge of the DCU, Poulter could be on Gunn's radar for another superhero opportunity such as Batman. Then again, his ability to take on a significant part like that may hinge on the scale of Marvel Studios' plans for Adam Warlock going forward after Vol. 3.
Among the biggest newcomers of last year was Joseph Quinn, who made waves for his performance as Hellfire Club leader and Stranger Things fan-favorite Eddie.
After that sudden rise to fame and the death of his Stranger Things character, Quinn will undeniably be on the hunt for his next big role.
His name has been thrown around for plenty of heroes including Human Torch and The Flash - The Direct named him among 12 other actors who could replace Ezra Miller as the speedster - but it's just as easy to imagine him as Batman.
Granted, this may be a bit tougher for those who have only seen him as Eddie, but once he ditches the '80s hair and alternative persona, he clearly has the look to pull off Bruce Wayne and has already shown off the acting chops to go with it.
Supernatural's Jensen Ackles has been discussed for countless superhero roles over the years, having notably been in the running for the MCU's Hawkeye before Jeremy Runner was ultimately cast.
Of course, Ackles finally got that heroic opportunity last year as The Boys' Soldier Boy - in which he eventually took a more villainous turn. And while it's unclear whether he will be returning as his Captain America-inspired character, there still ought to be plenty of time in his schedule for another major superhero.
Funnily enough, the Supernatural veteran has played Batman recently, taking the vocal lead in The Long Halloween animated movie. Meanwhile, many spent years for him to join the Arrowverse as Bruce Wayne, but perhaps the DCU could finally be the avenue to him becoming the Dark Knight in live-action.
Not too long ago, Jake Gyllenhaal took a foray into the superhero genre as Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home. But as he appears to be dead in the MCU, at least for now, perhaps he may be up for donning the suit that many fans are desperate to see him in: Batman.
Between movies like Far From Home and Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal clearly has varied acting talent, and he can definitely hold his own on the action side, as has been shown by the likes of Michael Bay's Ambulance.
Unfortunately, Gyllenhaal has proven to be a rather in-demand actor as of late, with plenty of new projects on the way. This will also make him a rather expensive choice, maybe even the priciest on this list, which may not be ideal for kickstarting a new universe and casting an actor that will be needed for the next decade.
Another actor who has been named in Batman casting discussions for many years now is Jamie Dornan, perhaps best known for his saucy performance as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.
Much like Ackles and Gyllenhaal, Dornan currently sits in his early 40s, so would be a perfect choice for a mid-career Batman to balance out with the early years exploration of Robert Pattinson's Dark Knight franchise.
Funnily enough, Dornan was part of a group of actors many years ago that have since had a rise to stardom that include him, Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, Eddie Redmayne, and Charlie Cox. Of the bunch, Dornan and Redmayne are the only ones yet to land a major superhero role, so what are they waiting for?
John David Washington
After dropping right in the middle of the pandemic, Christopher Nolan's Tenet didn't quite receive the attention it really deserved. But one thing it did do is bring John David Washington to the spotlight, and while he doesn't have the classic Bruce Wayne look, he could prove to be an excellent choice.
Washington actually starred alongside Robert Pattinson in Tenet, and what a crazy coincidence it would be if the two Nolan co-stars ended up simultaneously playing Batman after working with the director behind the infamous Dark Knight trilogy.
There were reports Washington was under consideration for a role in The Batman - which many speculated to be Harvey Dent's Two-Face. But that never came to be, although it may open the doors for him to take on a larger role like Batman or even the MCU's Mr. Fantastic, which he has proven to be a popular choice for.
The last few Batman actors cast have all been A-list Hollywood stars - Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson. But maybe it may be time for a lesser-known, and notably cheaper, actor to enter the role.
The 27-year-old Jonah Hauer-King may not currently be a name many are familiar with - as his biggest role so far comes from the 2017 Little Women mini-series. But, audiences will certainly get to know him this year thanks to his part as Prince Eric in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid adaptation.
The Little Women star has shown his talent already, and his upcoming Disney role could put him on the map for bigger characters in the years to come.
In 2017, at just 20 years old, Lucas Hedges caught an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Manchester on the Sea. In the years since he has played in several award-nominated projects, but now at age 27, he has still yet to really land a major mainstream role.
If James Gunn and DC Studios were to be looking for a smaller actor they could really turn into a star as the next Batman, Hedges would be an excellent choice. After all, he clearly has the talent and would allow audiences to completely disassociate the character from the actor.
How Will James Gunn Handle His Batman Reboot?
Recasting Ben Affleck's Batman may be James Gunn's toughest casting task as DC Studios CEO. Although much of the current Justice League is seen as irreplaceable by many, Gunn not only has to worry about differentiating his Dark Knight from Affleck's, but also from Robert Pattinson's.
With The Batman franchise placed to continue alongside the new DCU, which will seemingly star a brand-new caped crusader, it will be important to ensure the two interpretations are drastically different to avoid audience confusion. So, not only do the two Batmen need distinct stories and villains, but also very dissimilar looks.
Given that Gunn has already confirmed he will be searching for a younger early-career Clark Kent for his reboot, doing the same for Bruce Wayne would only be logical, right? Well, that would be the case if Matt Reeves and Pattinson weren't already doing that exact thing in The Batman universe.
Despite Pattinson being 36 years old, his Bruce Wayne was intended in The Batman to be around 30 and two years into his superhero career. So, perhaps the next Dark Knight should jump forward a few years, picking up the story in his mid-thirties with Batman in his prime and some of the Bat Family already established.
Beyond that, it will also be important to choose an actor with no resemblance at all to Pattinson, as general audiences could grow confused and assume the two separate franchises are actually connected. This could even be the path to casting the first non-white Batman ever brought to screens.
Whatever the case, Gunn and Peter Safran will unveil the first peek at their DCU slate later this month, although there is currently no word as to whether Batman will be part of this initial reveal. But either way, fans should expect to be waiting some time before hearing casting news for any of the next Justice League.