WARNING: This article contains… dum dum dum… SPOILERS!
I’ve recently re-watched Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992) and Batman Forever (1995). I swore I’d never watch Batman & Robin (1997) again. I think I’ll now have to do a Christopher Nolan Batman marathon with Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012). With the currently titled Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) in production, that’s a hell of a lot of Batman that’s hit our screens. Not to mention the 1960’s TV series and all of the animated series and specials!
It got me thinking about the different actors that have appeared in the various films (I’m going for the films, not TV or there’d be far too many!). Some of the greatest acting talent imaginable have appeared in the Batman franchises over the years. So for a bit of fun I thought I’d check them all out, who they played, what they brought to the film and how I’d rate them as the character. So let’s begin with…
Who has donned the black cape?
Michael Keaton – BATMAN
Batman & Batman Returns
“Now you wanna get nuts? Come on! Let’s get nuts.”
Michael Keaton starred in the first two Batman films directed by Tim Burton. When it was announced that Keaton would play Batman, fans were worried as he was better known for his comedy characters.
However, he played the caped crusader brilliantly, setting the moody, mysterious image of the bat that still remains on our screens to this day. At times he was cheesy and had some corny one-liners, but many still see Michael Keaton as the one true Batman or that he has influenced all that have come after him.
Best Non-Batman Role: Beetlejuice (1988)
Val Kilmer – BATMAN
“It’s the car, right? Chicks love the car.”
When Keaton turned down Batman Forever after Burton chose not to direct it, Val Kilmer stepped up to don the bat mask with mixed results. As the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Kilmer did a good job, but didn’t really bring anything new to the role.
Keaton set the bar so high that fans had a hard time accepting Kilmer as Batman. It didn’t help that Batman Forever was far too ‘zany’ for most peoples likings. He was a good Batman but it’s always hard to fill someone elses’ shoes.
Best Non-Batman Role: The Doors (1991)
George Clooney – BATMAN
Batman & Robin
“Why is it that all the beautiful ones are homicidal maniacs?”
Poor George. Taking the role of Batman was still quite early in his film career and he himself admits that it was a mistake. The absolute flop that was Batman & Robin can’t be blamed on Clooney. He did the best he could amongst a jumble of wrongs. The cheesy dialogue, the garish colours, the bat nipples!
These days, Clooney is a brilliant actor and everyone loves him. Back in ’97 he was still remembered from his days in ER and as the bad boy in Dusk Till Dawn, so playing our caped hero was never going to be easy for him.
Best Non-Batman Role: Gravity (2013)
Christian Bale – BATMAN
Batman Begins, The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises
“I’m whatever Gotham needs me to be.”
Skip forward to 2005 and Christopher Nolan brought us Batman Begins with Bale becoming the darkest Batman yet. Gone had the camp, bright fun of the old. Gone had the nipples!
Bale gave so much passion and determination to the role of Batman whilst also doing what no one else had quite managed to do – giving us a brilliant portrayal of millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. Bale is one of the truly great actors of our time, giving great performances time and time again. It will be hard for anyone to top Bale’s performance as the Dark Knight.
Best Non-Batman Role: American Psycho (2000)
Ben Affleck – BATMAN
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Currently planned for a 2016 release, Zack Snyder is directing Ben Affleck as the caped crusader in what is a sequel to the latest Superman film, Man of Steel. Not much is known about the film yet, other than it will feature Batman, Superman and Wonderwoman.
A lot of fans were very concerned with the choice of casting Affleck as Batman – a feeling I do not agree with. I believe that Affleck will portray the dark knight well and hope that he add’s his own take on the character and doesn’t try to do a Christian Bale. And there lies the only problem for me – it could be too soon to accept someone else as our favourite winged hero.
Bat Rating: ????
Best Non- Batman Role: Argo (2012)
Written by Joseph Monahan – writer/director at Berry Productions
Download Joe’s comedy sci-fi book, Intergalactic Terrorist.