Every Actor Who Has Played Batman, Ranked From Worst To Best

Batman is undeniably one of the most beloved and revered pop culture figures of all time. Few comic book superheroes have been as successful in film and television as the Caped Crusader. Its introduction to the masses dates back to 1943, in the 15-chapter theatrical series Batman with Lewis Wilson. The episodic shorts are notable for being Batman’s first film appearance and spawned another 1949 series batman and robin, this time with Robert Lowery. After a brief lull in Hollywood, the DC character returned to screens with a bang (or maybe a ‘kapow’) in the 1960s led by Adam West Batman series. The campy, lighthearted show became an instant classic and to this day is adored for its whimsical portrayal of the hero.

After more than two decades of radio silence, the masked vigilante returned to the world of cinema once again with the Tim Burton-helmed 1989 film Batman. It was the famous director’s serious and less cartoonish approach that really captivated audiences and showed the depth of DC’s superheroism. From this film, many talented actors would take on the distinguished role, with varying degrees of triumph. Now with Robert Pattinson donning the suit in expected ecstasy The Batman, let’s dive deep into every actor who’s played Batman: the good, the bad, and the Clooney.

6 George Clooney

How Batman and Robin Bombing Helped George Clooney Become Better at His Job
Warner Bros.

Despite such a star-studded cast and thrilling character introduction, the ill-fated batman and robin is undeniably the worst Batman movie to date and quite possibly one of the worst movies ever made. George Clooney took over as the Masked Crusader when Val Kilmer was unable to return due to scheduling conflicts. Director Joel Schumacher chose the Emergency room actor because he wanted to provide a lighter take on the character and thought Clooney was up for the challenge. Even with a colorful cast of big names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman and Alicia Silverstone, batman and robin was a critical and box office mistake.

Clooney’s performance was heavily criticized, with the San Francisco Chronicle proclaiming, “George Clooney is the great zero of the film, and should become the George Lazenby of the series” (in a nod to the one-time James Bond actor). Despite a less than warm reception, it’s not fair to attribute the film’s failure solely to Clooney. The writing and script were weak and also earned venom from reviews, even the battle suit was criticized for its molded muscle and nipple design. Clooney himself has spoken negatively about batman and robinThe infamous reputation of , having once said, “I think we could have killed the franchise”, and calling it “a waste of money”.

5 Val Kilmer

Batman & Robin Writer Reveals Important Story Arc That Disappeared In Batman Forever
Warner Bros.

For the third installment of Warner Bros.’ initial Batman series, Val Kilmer stepped in as Bruce Wayne when Michael Keaton opted out of reprising the role. Director Joel Schumacher was interested in Kilmer for the lead role after his impressive performance in Tomb stone. The actor was a huge fan of the superhero and as a child visited the studios where the 1960s series was recorded. He accepted the role without knowing any details or seeing a script. In batman forever, Batman must protect Gotham City by facing not one but two formidable adversaries, the Riddler and Two-Face (played by Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones respectively).

Val KilmerThe famous crusader’s portrayal polarized critics, with many comparing his performance to that of Michael Keaton. The actor brought a humanity to the role and played Bruce Wayne and Batman as two separate entities: Wayne as a dark, traumatized man struggling with grief and Batman as a powerful, uninhibited force who doesn’t have to. respect the rules. This unique take on the superhero allowed Kilmer to make the character his own, but for just one movie.

Related: These Are Val Kilmer’s Best Movies

4 Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck is Batman and things are blowing up behind him in Dawn of Justice
Pictures from Warner Bros.

For his first outing as an iconic DC superhero, Ben Affleck starred as the mysterious vigilante in Zack Snyder’s highly anticipated 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The actor’s then-controversial casting left fans skeptical, even Affleck himself was worried. After the failure of his previous superhero film daredevil, the star feared he “wouldn’t fit the traditional mould”. Once he figured out the direction Snyder wanted to take with the character, he quickly got on board. Despite significant backlash from comic book fans, the director stuck to his guns and explained the reasoning behind his choice, saying, “I really wanted an older Batman. I wanted a war-weary Batman. That’s why, in many ways, Ben was perfect for me.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice saw the superhero face off in a power struggle against the iconic Superman, played by Henry Cavill. This incarnation of Batman served as a cinematic reboot of the character, but unfortunately caused a stir for all the wrong reasons. Although it generated box office profits, audiences and critics were not kind to the blockbuster’s image, criticizing the extensive CGI, pacing, and overall tone. However, Affleck did a solid job portraying Bruce Wayne, nailing the brooding, disillusioned hero quite well, and was surprisingly one of the few great things about the movie. The restrained way he carries himself and the exhaustion in his eyes make Affleck’s Batman a worthy performance.

3 Adam West

Last night's Oscars in memoriam forgot about Batman star Adam West

The iconic Adam West is famous for bringing the caped crusader to the small screen, with the hit 1960s television series Batman. Known for its catchy music and campy approach, the show was often unintentionally hilarious and hugely entertaining. West stars as Batman opposite Burt Ward’s Robin, and the dynamic duo fought crime in Gotham City for three successful seasons, plus a companion feature from 1966. West’s Batman is colorful and lighthearted, far from “The Dark Knight” Batman would later be known as Batman, and it served as a real introduction to DC’s superhero world. West had won the coveted role because he was apparently the only person in their screen test who could deliver the lines with a straight face.

Although he’s unarguably the dumbest portrayal of Batman, West really enjoyed playing the character and absolutely loved donning the famous costume. The greatest thing about Batman series is that it didn’t take itself too seriously and served as a celebration of the famous DC character. While West cherished his time as a superhero, he also struggled to escape the reputation of his crazy, jovial role. He and Burt Ward would be pigeonholed for decades after finishing the show, with West finding the most success simply playing himself (on shows like family guy and my godparents are magic).

2 Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton is Batman
Warner Bros.

It may come as a shock to many that comic book fans were less than thrilled when Michael Keaton was first chosen as Batman for the Tim Burton film. Nearly 50,000 letters of protest have been sent to Warner Bros. offices, with many fans fearing the comedy star’s (from Mister Mom and The compression, no less) meant the big screen adaptation would be campy like the 1960s series. It was producer Jon Peters who originally suggested Keaton for the role, saying the actor had the “edgy, tormented quality” of the character, especially after witnessing his performance in the drama. Clean and sober. Having previously worked together in the box office hit beetle juice, Burton and Keaton were up for another collaboration. To prepare for the role, the star studied religiously Return of the Dark Knight for inspiration.

1989 Batman featured the talent of some of Hollywood’s finest at the time, including Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger and Billy Dee Williams, and had a beloved score by Prince. It depicts the masked vigilante’s conflict with the Joker, famously played by Nicholson. Keaton’s gift for balancing seriousness and comedic charm, coupled with his relatable and solitary approach to the character, helped Batman become a critical and commercial success. Opponents were stunned by her demanding performance, and it’s definitely one of the best performances to date. Tim Burton’s hit film led to its equally prominent and lucrative (and particularly dark) sequel, the aptly named Batman returns.

Related: Michael Keaton Explains Why He Left Batman Forever Because Of Joel Schumacher’s Tone Shifts

1 Christian Bale

Christian Bale was never approached for Batman v Superman
Pictures from Warner Bros.

After the stifling failure of batman and robin, the future of the caped crusader in the film looked downright bleak. In 2003, Memento director Christopher Nolan has signed on to helm the new Batman project and, as they say, the rest is history. Christian Bale won the coveted role, beating big names like Jake Gyllenaal, Billy Crudup, Hugh Dancy and Heath Ledger in capturing superhero complexity. Of his casting choice, Nolan proclaimed, “He has exactly the balance of darkness and lightness that we were looking for.” After losing a lot of weight during the machinist, Bale gained 70 pounds over several months after hiring a personal trainer and training in Wing Chun Kung Fu under Eric Oram in preparation for the film.

Bale portrays a darker, more serious version of The black Knight but approaches the character with a tenderness that endeared him to the public. Despite his vast wealth, high-tech gadgetry, and reputation as a ladies’ man, Bale’s Bruce Wayne struggles to come to terms with his tragic past and is in many ways still that scared little boy who his parents desperately miss. He’s also excellent at capturing the moody essence of the character, while delivering some serious kicks as he dons the iconic costume. The film received widespread acclaim and box office success, and Bale’s exit as Batman garnered rave reviews. by Christophe Nolan The black Knight The trilogy would gross $2.4 billion at the box office, and its interim installment is ranked as one of the biggest ever. Bale’s arc as a superhero is undoubtedly one of the finest in cinematic history.

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