While Bruce Wayne gave his life (along with Superman and Wonder Woman) to stop Darkseid's invasion on Earth 2, it's hardly surprising that Batman--a character whose defining characteristic to many fans and creators is that he's "a symbol, bigger than any one man"--would return.
Add that to the fact that Batman has been DC's most commercially successful property in the New 52, so having another one around for crossovers, team-up books and maybe even his own solo title one day...
...but we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Here's our list of the most likely or often-repeated candidates. There are certainly others who could be considered dark horse candidates, like Jim Gordon or Luke Fox, but here are the ones we could easily see taking up the mantle.
Look at it this way: If you want to really commit to the idea of replacement heroes, there'd be some symmetry to using characters like Azrael and Artemis, who have already had lengthy(ish) stints replacing Batman and Wonder Woman with the readers.
The fact that Grant Morrison has introduced a different Azrael in the New 52, in spite of their general preference for taking the most simple, iconic and recognizable versions of characters.
Of course, we don't expect this to be a real possibility. There'd be some nice symmetry to it, but recognizing the '90s goes against everything DC believes these days, and there's a healthy share of the reader base who appreciate that.
Batman's father may be one of the most reliably dead characters since the inception of superhero comics, but when he appeared--wearing a costume that has obvious similarities in its design to that of the new Earth 2 Batman--in the Flashpoint event, many fans half-expected that version of Batman to survive the end of the story. He was unambiguously the most popular character to come out of an event that gave us Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Element Woman and more.
Add all that to the fact that Flashpoint artist Andy Kubert provided a cover for the Earth 2 Annual, and you've got a fairly compelling argument.
There's also the fact that the cover above looks a bit like he might be hanging out somewhere in Wayne Manor...but then again, that wouldn't be much of a surprise for most of these characters.
The hero of Batman Beyond would be an inspired choice--honestly, the only thing that keeps it from being a near-perfect one is the idea that he's already starring in a couple of popular digital-first series and spreading him too thin after years of having no presence at all might dilute some of the excitement fans feel for the character.
Killing off Damian on Earth 1, only to give him the gig as Batman on Earth 2 and keep him around at least in name? That sounds like something that editorial, and/or Morrison, could have come up with. And since the timeline is all different on Earth 2, it's plausible to assume Damian's been around for long enough to do it.
Plus, there's the resemblance between this costume and the one Damian wore in the (Kubert-drawn) Batman #666.
With Bruce Wayne dead, could his mantle and mansion go to...John Blake? Certainly it wouldn't be too unreasonable to assume that DC would be interested in capitalizing on the popularity of the character who, created for Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy, has been teased by Co-Publisher Dan DiDio as someone we might see in the comics.
Certainly, that would be a great way to get some ink from the mainstream press--to incorporate a new character from the movies into the comic book franchise.
Seemingly a favorite among the editorial staff at DC, the events that led to Jason being the Red Hood in the New 52 probably would never have taken place on Earth 2, where history unfolded much differently. What could that mean? Perhaps he's a strong candidate to jump into the role.
Let's face it--if anyone is ever going to replace Batman for a long period of time, it should be Dick Grayson. Bruce Wayne's longtime son, his first (and best) sidekick and a man who has proven that he has it in him to be a hero even without Bruce, Dick also served as Batman all the way up until the launch of the New 52. So when they were planning out who might be the Earth 2 Batman, perhaps at that point they thought they were referencing stoies that had just been abruptly stopped for the new DCU.