DC Comics has been around for decades, and in that time it has managed to build up a stellar roster of heroes in just about every medium, from comics to television. Most notable among them is Batman, the brooding hero of Gotham that has gone on to become one of DC's most recognizable heroes. Beneath the cowl is Bruce Wayne, the billionaire playboy with a dark past and a weird obsession with night-rats. And while the Batman Arkham games have always done a good job of diving into Bruce's psychology, maybe the next one shouldn't.
Those that beat the Arkham Knight, the last entry in the franchise, will likely remember how it ended. Scarecrow revealed Batman's true identity to the world, Batman activates the Knightfall protocol to fake his own death, and the world believes that Batman is gone. Those that 100% the game also got a separate, "true" final cutscene, where two criminals are thwarted by a more terrifying version of the vigilante - likely under the influence of the fear toxin. And while this, obviously, is meant to be interpreted as Batman living on, especially since Warner Bros. is teasing a new Batman game, maybe the next entry should give someone else a crack at the mantle.
There are plenty of other candidates that could take up the cowl and become Batman. The most immediate candidate is Dick Grayson, otherwise known as Nightwing. Grayson was the first Robin and is more of a son to Bruce than his actual son. In the comic Batman: Battle for The Cowl, Dick even winds up donning the mask, making him seem like the most likely choice. Plus, witnessing him try and follow in his mentor's footsteps would be interesting to see from a narrative perspective, especially given Bruce's role as his father-figure.
There's also Tim Drake and Jason Todd, two other members of the Bat-family. However, Drake, arguably, isn't quite ready to be a full-blown Batman quite yet. That would pose an interesting scenario within a game, though, as Tim Drake could split off to become Red Robin were Nightwing actually able to become Batman. Jason Todd, on the other hand, is already Red Hood, a merciless vigilante. While Todd may feel entitled to the Batman name, it simply doesn't fit his character. That being said, it could be interesting to see him duke it out with Grayson for the name as a sidequest storyline within the game.
Azrael would be an interesting choice, especially with how heavily featured he was in Arkham Knight, but probably doesn't have the mainstream appeal some of the other options have. Even Alfred admits that he's a strong candidate, but it would be a fairly weird choice for Warner Bros. to go that route with the next game. There were rumors of a Batman game with Damian Wayne, Bruce's son, as Batman, but nothing has come out of that since.
The point is, putting players back into the role of Bruce Wayne is the least interesting scenario. There are plenty of other characters that could take over for a bit, and that certainly doesn't have to mean forever. With the next game possibly hinting towards the Court of Owls, it could provide yet another interesting scenario as the villainous group tries to piece together the new Batman's identity.
Arkham Asylum changed gaming forever when it released, and it falls onto the next entry to continue to innovate. While there's not an insane amount more that Warner Bros. can do from a gameplay perspective, they can at least continue their trend of superb narratives in the Batman games. It will involve a hefty amount of risk-taking, but it should prove to be rewarding if executed properly.
There are still a lot of questions about what the next Batman game will actually be. Many were expecting an announcement during the recent PlayStation State of Play, but nothing ever popped up. NYCC is still on the horizon and a reveal could happen there, but fans will just have to wait and see. One thing is for sure: Batman will be back. Who it actually is under the mask may prove to be a point of contention for some, but hopefully, Warner Bros. will do something exciting with the character that fans know and love.