Every Live-Action Batman Actor Ranked
The character of Batman has always been popular with comic book fans. Whenever a movie or television show has come out that centered on the character, it has always been important to find the correct actor for the dark knight. With Ben Affleck returning to the role and the trailer for Robert Pattinson’s take on the iconic comic book character being released, it seemed appropriate to rank the actors who have portrayed the superhero in live action.
9. George Clooney (Batman & Robin): Unsurprisingly, Clooney is the worst actor to portray Batman in live-action. Although the failures of the infamous superhero film Batman & Robin are hardly all of Clooney’s fault, the actor still gives a very bored performance, not taking the role very seriously, much like the other actors in the film. The movie as a whole contains an overly campy tone, poor acting from nearly everyone, and messy storytelling. Even in such of a disaster of a film Clooney still fails to make his Batman stand out.
8. Val Kilmer (Batman Forever): After Warner Bros. dropped director Tim Burton, Michael Keaton also left the role of Batman, leaving the studio to replace them with Joel Schumacher as the director and Kilmer as the title character in the sequel. As a result, both the film and the character of Batman suffers. The more campy tone and over-the-top performances from several of the actors bring Batman Forever down a great deal while Kilmer does not even help the movie that much. Even though Kilmer does a very convincing job as Bruce Wayne, he fails to make his Batman persona believable, both in the performance and story surrounding the character.
7. Kevin Conroy (Crisis on Infinite Earths): Fans have been waiting for years to see Conroy appear as Batman in live-action ever since he voiced the character in the classic show Batman: The Animated Series. Fans were thrilled when Conroy finally appeared role during the DC crossover event on The CW. Taking place in a different universe, Conroy portrays an older and darker Bruce Wayne who has gone mad in his crusade against crime, killing anyone who stands in his way. Though Conroy’s performance is incredible, his role is very brief and the story that is provided for him is extremely off-putting. Many fans were angered to see Conroy play an evil version of Batman that is killed off out of nowhere. Despite Conroy’s effort, his first live action appearance as the dark knight is underwhelming at best.
6. Iain Glen (Titans): Titans has been a very controversial series among fans, mainly for its sloppy writing and overly dark tone. However, fans were intrigued when it was announced that Glen would be portraying Bruce Wayne during the show’s second season. Glen does not disappoint in the role, providing a Bruce Wayne who is very wise but also someone to be wary of, as this portrayal showcases a rocky relationship with Brenton Thwaite’s version of Robin. Despite Glen’s performance, it is clear that this version still needs work, as the character only shows up as Bruce Wayne due to copyrighted related issues behind the scenes, the story elements are shown to be very messy and it is not hard to see Glen struggle with maintaining an American accent.
5. Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, and Justice League): When it was announced that Affleck would be playing the dark knight, there was much skepticism among the fan base due to his performance in the 2003 film Daredevil. Despite that, Affleck was praised for his performance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with him playing a more depressed and aggressive version. However while Affleck’s performance was praised, the writing for the character was widely panned, with criticism for his conflict with Henry Cavill’s Superman and the fact that he uses guns and kills people, something that Batman normally never does. When DC tried to lighten him up in Justice League, the character became even more panned for being turned into what fans believed to be an incompetent buffoon.
4. Adam West (Batman 1966): While Clooney and Kilmer could never make the overly campy tone work in their movies as the caped crusader, West perfected it. In the Batman show from the 1960s, the character was portrayed in a much more comedic and family friendly light, covering the punches with words like “Bam!” and “Zap!” Meanwhile, the dynamic with Burt Ward’s Robin brought a father figure like character out of Batman for both the boy wonder and the audience. While the show and its feature-length are rather silly by today’s standards, there is a certain charm to West’s take on Batman.
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3. David Mazouz (Gotham): Despite the fact that Gotham’s first season was widely panned for its boring story and poor character choices, the show’s core cast was highly praised, including Mazouz. The actor managed to impress audiences by playing a young Bruce Wayne before he becomes Batman. Throughout the show’s five seasons, Mazouz shows a vulnerable side to Bruce Wayne and how he tries to help the people in Gotham City, whether they deserve it or not. The show tackled several sides of Bruce Wayne’s personality such as his hidden rage and abilities to manipulate people. Mazouz also shows a more heartfelt side such as in his father-son like relationship with Sean Pertwee’s Alfred Pennyworth. Even though he is a teenager for most of the series, Mazouz still managed to make his version of Bruce Wayne shine.
2. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy): When it came to portraying Batman, Bale proved to be up to the challenge during Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins in 2006. Bale allowed the superhero to be explored in depth, which had not happened in the previous films with Batman. In the critically acclaimed sequel The Dark Knight, Bale let his version show an a strong-willed but also vulnerable side in his conflict with Heath Ledger’s now iconic Joker. The Dark Knight Rises put Bale’s performance to the test when he is forced to play a Batman who is now irrational and nearly broken. The actor succeeded in a tremendous way. Bale played the role with dedication, and the writing for the character helped a great deal.
1. Michael Keaton (Batman and Batman Returns): When Michael Keaton was announced to play Batman in 1989, fans were furious, sending thousands of letters to Warner Bros. stating that they needed to recast the role immediately. Even other actors such as John Lithgow could not believe that Keaton could ever work in the role since he was primarily known for his comedic roles at the time. However when the film was released, all fears that this casting decision could never work were put to rest, as Keaton shocked audiences with how good he was in the role. In the two movies, Keaton shows a mysterious side to the character of Bruce Wayne and a frightening side to the character of Batman, balancing each part of the role out with his tremendous performance. Even though there were many that could not believe that Keaton would be believable as Batman, the actor proved them wrong, and is the best live-action Batman to this day.
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