In 1939, with the 27th issue of Detective Comics, we were introduced to a wealthy American playboy and philanthropist. In his spare time, this man dons a cape and cowl and proceeds to battle the evil men/women who populate Gotham’s criminal underworld. This was the world’s first look at one of the most successful comic book characters ever created, Batman.
Since his debut, in 1939, the moniker has become one of the most instantly recognizable names in pop culture. After his debut in Detective Comics, the comic became the longest-running comic in the history of the United States. This commercial success of the character meant that the brand was going to be used in whichever medium that DC could think of.
Branching out from comics meant that at some point Batman was going to make it into the movie industry. Over the years there have been several movies. Some of them have been home runs whereas some have failed to make it out of the batter’s box. Their success has depended solely upon which actor is chosen to play the Dark Knight. There have been some great choices and some picks that have been less than satisfactory. Below we will take a look at these actors and how they stack up against one another.
We all knew that we were going to start here. Clooney has spent years apologizing for his role in Batman and Robin thinking that he had killed the franchise, and he was close to it. Batman and Robin was as campy as the original string of movies gets. Director Joel Schumacher did not seem to be aware of the dark tones that should be following this movie.
The missed tone of the movie also applies to the performance of Mr. Clooney. He is by all accounts a fantastic actor but he missed the mark on this one. With the backdrop of the movie, it may have been hard to portray a more serious Batman but there still did not seem to be much of an effort. Clooney focussed too much on a comedic character than most fans would have liked. Bruce Wayne is a tragically flawed character and Clooney didn’t seem to understand this. He spent most of the movie cracking terrible jokes and we almost expected him to look at the camera and wink at some points.
After the rousing success of the MCU, it was only a matter of time before someone was going to try the same with the DC Universe. The first attempt at this creation was the much-maligned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
A good reason why this movie did not get the reception that most were hoping for was the casting and eventual performance of Ben Affleck.
Now it should be said that some of Affleck’s performance cannot be solely placed on his shoulder as he was going off the material written for him. Still, the misunderstanding of the Batman character cannot be overlooked.
Affleck’s version of Batman was a massive injustice, pun intended, to the Batman character. In the comics and other movies for that matter, Batman was shown as a highly intelligent man who would outsmart Gotham’s villains. In Affleck’s movies, we saw more of a bull-headed bruiser who did not think any of his actions out. It was a shame that this was the Batman we saw because there is so much more to the Batman character than what we saw from Affleck.
After the success of the original Tim Burton movies, fans were slightly on edge when it was announced that Val Kilmer would be taking over as the Dark Knight. We soon learned that these worries were for naught. Kilmer was a great addition to the Batman character history and he seemed to enjoy playing Gotham’s favourite son.
Schumacher had not thrown the Batman series into the ridiculous yet and this movie still kept most of the dark tone established in the previous two entries. This helped to provide the proper backdrop for Kilmer’s performance. His version of Batman did a great job at looking into the darker aspects of the character. Batman has gone through terrible heartbreak in his life and this has led him to be a very tragic character. Kilmer was able to capture this darkness and use it to give Batman the depth he needed.
What keeps him lower on this list is the comedic side of Batman that Kilmer added in. Again, Schumacher was out to make a more campy version of the Batman story so all of the blame cannot fall on Kilmer. Still, it took away from the movie when we saw the comedic moments that were added to the film.
After the debacle that was Batman and Robin, the Batman franchise lay dormant for many years before Christopher Nolan decided it was time to revive the Dark Knight.
One of the first big casting choices that Nolan would be facing would be picking the man who would play Batman. Batman would be the face of his trilogy and any choice would be scrutinized by the entire world. Luckily, Nolan’s casting was near perfect when he put Christian Bale in the role of the Dark Knight.
Gone away was the campy and comedic elements to the Batman character. Bale knew that the Batman character is a tragic one. He has witnessed his parents being killed and the city he loves being plunged into chaos by the mob. Bale was able to use these emotions and craft a brilliant version of Batman.
Bale also used a very important piece of the Batman back story that had not been covered very well in previous movies. Batman has a strict moral code that prevented him from killing anyone. It was the backbone of his crusade against evil and what helped to set him apart from the criminals he was combatting. It was brought wonderfully to the big screen by Bale and is a big reason why his performance will live on forever.
Depending on how old you are you may agree or disagree with the choice of the top movie Batman.
Before Tim Burton came out with his Batman movies the only experience the mainstream world had with Batman was from the 1960s. While Adam West’s turn as the Dark Knight was good, for what it was, it did not delve into the great character that was. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton changed all of that.
Burton was known as a director who dealt with dark tones so he was the perfect person to bring the proper Batman story to the big screen, but what surprised most was Keaton’s performance. Up until this point in his career, Keaton was known as more of a comedic actor. It was not expected that he would be able to pull off a character like Batman, but he knocked it clear out of the park. Keaton explored a very troubled Dark Knight that was haunted by his past. It was not a character that many thought Keaton could play but his performance was spot on.
His back and forth with Nicholson also showed the grasp of the Batman character that Keaton had. Nicholson, as the Joker, chewed every scene he was in with his over-the-top performance. It would be easy to get lost in the shuffle when acting opposite Nicholson but Keaton was up to the challenge. His turn as Batman was just as memorable as Nicholson’s and that shows how great Keaton was as Batman.