Batman is like the James Bond of superheroes when it comes to the number of actors who have played him over the years. In what is one of the best movie series of all time, some portrayals have been good, others have been bad and a few have been downright awful. Here’s who we think did the best job depicting DC Comic‘s caped crusader ranked from worst to best, actors who played Batman…
9. Lewis G. Wilson
‘Batman’ 1943 film series
Wilson starred in the first ever live-action Batman adaptation, which appeared on TV as a 15-episode miniseries in 1943. Wilson’s old-school Batman was in fact the least successful version out of all 8. Back in the day, criticisms of Wilson included that he was too chubby and nonathletic to be Batman and that he had a Boston accent, hardly appropriate for the Gotham-born raised hero.
8. Robert Lowery
‘Batman and Robin’ 1949 film series
You can blame bad special effects if you want to, but the oldest Batman portrayals leave a lot to be desired. Robert Lowery appeared as Batman in a 1949 serial called Batman and Robin. His performance isn’t very memorable, but at least he’s not as bad as his predecessor, Wilson.
7. George Clooney
‘Batman & Robin’ 1997 film
We kind of have to blame George Clooney’s Batman failure on terrible writing and production design. The absolute flop of all flops that he starred in, Batman & Robin (1997), was almost the end of Batman movies altogether. Thank goodness Christopher Nolan saved Batman’s legacy in The Dark Knight trilogy!
6. Val Kilmer
‘Batman Forever’ 1995 movie
Although Val Kilmer is great in other roles (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, anyone?) he just can’t pull off Batman. In his one movie in the role, Batman Forever, he tries to channel that borderline cheesy and serious thing Michael Keaton previously had going, but ultimately fails, simply coming off pretty seriously cheesy.
5. Ben Affleck
‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ 2016 movie
With so much going on in Batman v Superman, we hardly had a chance to actually judge Ben Affleck’s performance as the Dark Knight. From what we saw though, we have to admit that his portrayal of Batman exceeded our expectations. Despite the negative anticipation, Batfleck was in fact decent. As long as he ranks above Val Kilmer, he’s done pretty well in our books. Affleck nailed the broodiness, determination and…the voice. Pat on the back to him for making this older, more cynical and brittle version of the Batman, believable.
Related: Check out our ranking of actors who have played The Joker!
4. Adam West
‘Batman’ 1966 TV series and 1966 film
Let’s face it, this Batman is hilarious. In the 1966 Batman TV series and subsequent movie, Adam West took camp to the next level with this bizarre and silly version of the caped crusader. Though his performance was often laughable, it was meant to be that way, unlike the previous few Batmen on our list.
3. Kevin Conroy
‘The Animated Series’ 1992-95 voice actor & others…
Here’s where things get sentimental. If you grew up with the Batman animated series, Justice League, Batman Beyond, or pretty much any other animated Batman, you know that Kevin Conroy has serious talent. Though his Batman is aimed at kids, he’s actually a very serious version of the character that comes across as appreciably stoic, yet determined. As revealed in our list of Batman trivia, he’s the longest-running Dark Knight! Kevin has been voicing the superhero for a whooping 25 years.
2. Michael Keaton
‘Batman’ 1989 and ‘Batman Returns’ 1992 movies
There’s something classic about Michael Keaton’s portrayal of Batman. It toes the line between serious and funny in a way subsequent Batman films fail to capture. Keaton starred in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), the first successful blockbusters of the Batman franchise.
1. Christian Bale
‘Batman Begins’ 2005, ‘The Dark Knight’ 2008, and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ 2012 movies
The best was saved till last! Bale may go a little overboard with the bat-voice and has a tendency to leave his mouth hanging open, but he’s still the best Batman actor to grace our television screens so far. He portrays a much darker, scarier and more serious version of the Dark Knight, flawlessly. It will be hard to top such a brilliant take on the role. It probably helps that his movies, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and the Dark Knight Rises, are some of the best DC films and better Batman movies out there.
Don’t agree with our ranking? Let us know yours in the comment box below…
Want more from the Caped Crusader? Check out the best Batman Easter Eggs hidden throughout his movies…