Ryan-GoslingPerhaps the single biggest piece of news out of Comic-Con was the fact that Man of Steel would be followed up not with a straightforward Man of Steel 2, but something more along the lines of Batman vs. Superman or Superman vs. Batman.

That is to say, it will very much be introducing Batman into the mix, and the passage that Man of Steel’s Harry Lennix read at Comic-Con, taken from Frank Miller’s graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, suggests that there’s going to be an epic showdown between the two heroes.

There’s been plenty of speculation about who would be donning the cowl this time around, following an arguably genre-defining performance from Christian Bale in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy.

And now Heat Vision are reporting that Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. are looking to cast a Bruce Wayne / Batman who is in his late 30s to early 40s, and that he will be established and rugged. And not only that, but they’ve got an early list of names of actors who are thought to be in contention – though, despite the reputable source, it should still be taken with a pinch of salt, because some of their sources note that any talk of casting is still premature, with the script not yet written.

Josh Brolin (46) is said to be the frontrunner, per two insider sources, having led Ruben Fleisher’s Gangster Squad for Warner Bros., and worked on a Frank Miller project on Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Ryan Gosling (32), Brolin’s Gangster Squad co-star, is a little younger than the aforementioned target age. But he’s an immensely talented actor, and would probably also do well to pull in the female audience that doesn’t always turn out for comic book movies.

Amongst the other contenders, the studio are also looking at Joe Manganiello (36). Manganiello was reportedly an early contender to play Superman for Snyder’s Man of Steel, prior to Snyder settling on Henry Cavill. And things might have gone in a different direction had his schedule for HBO’s True Blood allowed him to shoot the blockbuster.

Richard Armitage (41) certainly makes for an interesting possibility on the list. The British actor launched to higher heights, moving on from a leading role in TV’s Spooks to a leading role in The Hobbit for the studio, which he’ll be reprising for the second and third instalments in the next year and a half.

Matthew Goode (35), a fellow Brit like Armitage, has a history with Snyder, having worked with him on Watchmen as Ozymandias. I personally had Goode pegged as a possible Green Lantern on my Justice League wish-list casting, but would definitely be interested in seeing him don the black cape and cowl.

And finally, Max Martini (43), most recently seen on screen in Pacific Rim, is also on the early casting list for Snyder and the studio. Perhaps best known for his leading role in The Unit, Martini had a great little arc in Castle, and will soon be cementing his on-screen presence in Paul Greengrass’ upcoming Tom Hanks-starrer, Captain Phillips.

In all likelihood, potential casting is probably going to remain behind locked doors until an official announcement is ready to be made, once an actor has been chosen for the role. With the studio expecting to go into production in early 2014 for a 2015 release, that announcement should hopefully be coming sooner rather than later.