Just like for any action hero, every generation of fans from the 60s till this very day have their own favorite version of the caped crusader. I have mine too. And in light of Robert Pattinson taking the role of the next Batman in The Batman (2022), let’s buy the hype and take a look and attempt to rank the seven most iconic Batman actors of all time.
- George Clooney
George Clooney. When he took the Batman role after Val Kilmer’s feat with the mask and cape, he had it ROUGH. Clooney was popularly known for jumping back and forth between romantic comedies and action movies at the time, but somehow, his portrayal of the masked vigilante left Batman fans a little icky with his performance. He was said to be a little too jovial and unwieldy as the Dark Knight, contrary to the character of the ever-so-serious Bat. Another (awkward) issue that came up was the nipples on his batsuit. Poor George Clooney admitted it himself that he hated the BATNIPPLES and joked that the Batman he played was constantly feeling cold. All of the fuss had Joel Schumacher, the director of Batman & Robin (1997), apologizing for the misguided direction of the film that left many fans disappointed and confused. Clooney still keeps a photo of himself in the Batsuit as a reminder that everybody makes bad decisions.
- Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is an amazing actor, but still faced some pretty heavy backlash when he played Zack Snyder’s version of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and even more as (Zack and) Joss Whedon’s Batman in Justice League. There were memes made specially to entail his overall performance as Batman in the two films. However, despite all the backlash, Affleck still portrayed a more heroic side of Batman, given the script. Matt Reeves, The Batman director, in one of his recent interviews praised Affleck’s portrayal of Batman and mentioned that he personally loved Ben Affleck version of the caped crusader. He is also thrilled to watch Affleck’s return in the upcoming movie version of The Flash. Affleck will be returning as Batman in the Zack Snyder’s Justice League film. Fingers crossed, this time, it’s going to be good.
- Val Kilmer'
Val Kilmer took on the role of Batman after Michael Keaton rested his cape and cowl episodes. Kilmer delivered the act in a more natural manner in Batman Forever (1995), like he was perfect for the role. However, he only got the chance to don the batsuit once and be done with it forever. Fans can only wonder what would have happened if Kilmer was given another chance to play the role with a better director than Joel Schumacher (oops). Though Kilmer was alleged to cause problems on scene, the actor said he has his own reasons not to continue his role as the comic book hero. The incident which led him to the decision was when Warren Buffet and his grandkids visited the filming set of Batman Forever. The kids wanted to see Batman, so Kilmer kept his batsuit on. However, the kids ended up trying on his mask and riding his Batmobile without even talking to him. This became an eye-opener to him as it never really was about who was wearing the costume. Batman wasn’t supposed to be a particular person after all, but rather an anonymous hero that everyone can relate to and be.
- Adam West
Next up, Christian Bale’s favourite Batman – Adam West. It is undeniable that the late West’s image of Batman has left a pleasant imprint in our minds. Though it is said that the “Batman” TV Show (1996) was the campiest version on this list, he gave a fun, squeaky-clean portrayal of the superhero, a good introduction to the character as a live action hero. Despite his brightly colored suit and less-than-remarkable combat skills, Adam West’s subtle, self-aware humor definitely turned him into a very synonymous figure to ever play the role in Batman history.
- Michael Keaton
The casting of this comedic actor to play such a serious role had incurred a good deal of fan dissatisfaction even before the production of the film. It was definitely the biggest gamble in the Batman casting history. Tim Burton, the director at the time, saw something in Keaton which others did not. Backlash and lack of confidence by the fans were responded to with Keaton’s brilliant acting in “Batman” 1989. Keaton owned both Batman and Bruce Wayne through his tactful approach of being stern, dark, mysterious yet wacky, and still capable of a wry laugh. His performance had set a golden bar for every generation of Batman after that.
- Christian Bale
At number 2, we have arguably the best live action Batman to date, Christian Bale. Definitely one of the top performers in Hollywood, and a chameleon of roles. Bale took on the cape thrice in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, namely Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). And as expected of Bale, he delivered beyond expectations in all of the three films. His dedication for the role was unquestionable as his version of Bruce Wayne required him to be a conflicted, complex and flawed superhero. Not to mention that before and in between the Batman films, he had to take on roles that required major weight loss, and completely different character profiles such as Trevor Reznik in The Machinist (2004), and Pastor John in I’m Not There (2007). Bale portrayed a much more serious Dark Knight which captured a stronger and more driven Batman than the previous ones. His hoarse voice play somehow became synonymous to the caped crusader, thus proving how he had brought a new intensity and ownership to the character.
- Kevin Conroy
Kevin Conroy is THE Batman. You hear Kevin Conroy’s voice, you hear Batman. He has been the voice actor of the Dark Knight ever since he was first casted in Batman: The Animated Series in the 90s. He was also the voice of Batman in video games in later years, as well as appearing in CW’s most recent mega ‘Arrowverse’ crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Lending his voice to this iconic superhero for almost 25 years, true fans know that it’s hard not to hear Conroy’s voice whenever we see an animated Batman. Kevin Conroy as Batman, and Mark Hamill as The Joker, both iconic.