Ahead of Matt Reeves' Batman film, a look at actors who played the Dark Knight on screen
A look back at eight actors who've donned the Batsuit—and how fans and critics reacted to their performances in the Batman franchise.
Batman is one of the most beloved superheroes of all time. The Caped Crusader has been portrayed by more actors than any other superhero in film history. While most portrayals lasted for just one film, some actors have made a lasting impression with their act. Every time anything related to the Batman is announced, the internet goes into a complete meltdown.
On Friday, it was reported that actors Robert Pattinson and Nicholas Hoult are the top contenders for the role of Batman in Matt Reeves' upcoming directorial, according. Though, there has been no official word from Warner Bros yet, Variety states that Pattinson is the frontrunner and currently in negotiations. The reports comes months after Ben Affleck announced that he would no longer be playing the Caped Crusader and tweeted that he is excited to see Reeves' vision of the film "come to life".
Hence, before Matt Reeves' upcoming take on the Dark Knight takes shape, let’s take a look at the men who have been Batman so far:
Lewis Wilson was the first and youngest actor ever to play the adult Batman, and also the least successful. At the age of 23, he appeared in the 15-part 1943 Columbia serial. Critics complained about everything from his physique to his accent while he played the Gotham protector. After Batman, Wilson's career went nowhere and he eventually disappeared from the celluloid business. Wilson passed away in 2000.
Robert Lowery took over the role in the 1949 follow-up serial, Batman And Robin. Though Lowery never played Batman in another movie, he did get to wear the cape once more during his guest-appearance in an episode of The Adventures of Superman in 1956.
Adam West's Bruce Wayne performance had fans divided: Either they loved his campy portrayal or hated it. West played the Caped Crusader from 1966 through 1968 in the Batman television series in addition to a film spin-off and several animated series. West was known for his effortless, almost deadpan delivery of outlandish and hilarious lines, gifting his version of the character sincerity. For most fans, his version of Bruce Wayne is the most trustworthy of all. West passed away in 2017, leaving his immortal Bat legacy behind.
Michael Keaton's casting in the 1989 Tim Burton Batman film caused such controversy that 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Brothers’s offices. However, Keaton's version of Bruce Wayne established Batman in a post-West world, rooting him in a more brooding, angry and gothic surrounding while remaining likeable. Keaton witnessed a career revival, thanks to the spectacular Birdman, and as the villainous, winged Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Val Kilmer put on the suit in 1995 when the Batman franchise was handed over to director Joel Schumacher. Kilmer's portrayal of the Caped Crusader was restricted to professionalism, boss-like attitude, and a smiling face despite his clear annoyance. However, Kilmer was criticised for his performance as it lacked the intensity and sadness of the character.
Starring in the second Joel Schumacher entry to the franchise, George Clooney's Batman was probably the most ill-received portrayal. Largely vacant and unenthusiastic, Clooney floated through the film in his infamous Bat outfit only to be criticised for a lack of stoicism. It was the worst box-office performer of the modern Batman movies and Clooney once joked that he almost killed the series.
Christian Bale has become the first man to have played Bruce Wayne and his alter-ego more than twice on the silver screen. Having directed by the accomplished director Christopher Nolan, Bale’s rendition of the famous DC hero was one rooted in trauma. With some of the most quotable lines of all time and a voice people still mimic to this day, Bale’s Batman has became a pop culture icon.
Ben Affleck has clocked the most big screen appearances as the Bat (joint with Christian Bale) having starred in three movies: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016) and Justice League (2017). The actor was highly praised for his of portrayal of the billionaire playboy, but what people found equally impressive was his show of the hero's gruff, no-nonsense personality. However, for most critics, his characterisation lacked the altruistic heroism and drive.
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