Back when Man of Steel launched the DCEU with Henry Cavill as Superman under the direction of Zack Snyder, there was some consideration of having the 2013 movie be a continuation of the film universe set up by Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy. As the story goes, Man of Steel launched a new cinematic canon which saw Ben Affleck take on the role of Bruce Wayne in its Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sequel. However, back before Man of Steel's' follow-up film was locked in, it turns out Warner Brothers and Zack Snyder had conversations about how they could continue the Batman story which concluded Christian Bale's arc in the role and passed the torch to Joseph Gordon-Levitt in its final moments.
"It was not 100 percent off the table. We did talk about it a little bit," Snyder told the Happy, Sad, Confused podcast.
The dealbreaker seemed to be the fact that Bale would not have been returning to play Batman and fans would not have gotten to see Superman fight Bruce Wayne. Instead, John Blake would have taken on the cape and cowl to become Gotham's crusader. "Maybe that's why we didn't do it," Snyder said. "It would have been Joseph. Which could have been cool."
Man of Steel featured Bruce Wayne references but did not lock down a universe or new actor within its runtime. As the story goes, Nolan's movies have not been touched since the completion of the filmmaker's trilogy. "I don't blame him. I like that his thing doesn't get muddied by these other touches," said Snyder.
Snyder did, however, have ideas for who would play Batman if Affleck did not want the part. As Affleck made his decision, Snyder had worked and spoke with Belgian actor and filmmaker Matthias Schoenaerts for Batman ideas. "I was talking to him a lot about it," said Snyder. "He never got in the suit, but I did do a bunch of mock-ups of him, because Ben was on the fence. And I don't blame him. Everyone should be on the fence when you're asked, 'Do you want to play Batman?'" Now, most likely know Schoenaerts from titles like Red Sparrow or Netflix's The Old Guard.