It's officially happening. Just one year after the conclusion of Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy with Christian Bale as his Bruce Wayne, Warner Bros. has already put into motion plans for a new big screen iteration of the character, to debut in Zack Snyder's sequel to Man of Steel, where they'll undoubtedly play out their storied frenemy relationship.

So now the search begins. Who's the man who won't just make us lament the Bale era? Who's the man up for the task of sonning Superman? If you believe the rumors, WB and Snyder are aiming for a slightly older, more rugged Batman - which makes sense if they are indeed drawing inspiration from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns - and already have their shortlist down to six names: Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, True Blood's Joe Manganiello, The Hobbit's Richard Armitage, Matthew Goode (who previously worked with Snyder as Ozymandias in Watchmen) and Max Martini, who you may have spotted in supporting roles as a gruff heavy in Pacific Rim, and the ABC series Revenge and Castle.

Our two cents on a few of these names: At 46, Brolin, who is otherwise the man, may be too old. Matthew Goode was the worst part of Watchmen. And everyone loves Gosling, but as Batman? We're not so sure. Honestly, Martini may be the dark horse here. With shooting set to begin in 2014, the casting rumors are only going to intensify in the coming weeks.

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[via THR]