The Best Batman Actors of All Time (And The Worst)

Who amongst these men is the best Batman actor?
The 6 most prominent actors to don the Batsuit

Batman is arguably considered the most popular, if not one of the most popular superheroes to grace the pages of comic books. However, his popularity cannot be contained in mere pages but have grown to captivate the entirety of both pop culture and society.

Much of Batman’s prominence is due to his many movies. Many great actors have the honour to be cast and placed their own spin in portraying this iconic character on live film, TV shows and animated films.

However, this list will ONLY reveal the least to the greatest of these men who had worn the Batman’s cowl at some point in their acting careers on the silver screen.

6. George Clooney

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman & Robin - The Bat-Credit Card

George Clooney is one of the most prominent actors and directors in Hollywood. He was well-known for his role in movies such as Ocean 11 (and its later sequels in the franchise). Therefore, it’s a wonder that the man, who would win an Oscar-award for his performance in “Syriana”, was considered one of the worst Batman’s actors of all time.

His role as Batman is probably, one of Clooney’s lowest points in his career. Coupled with the infamous Batnipples and bad lines, there is little he could do to make Batman the badass that he is.

To give the man credit, his performance as Batman’s billionaire alter ego was praised widely as one of the most charming portrayals of Bruce Wayne in film.  Also, the film has touched on the tender father-son relationship that his Bruce has with Michael Gough’s Alfred character. This was unique, even among modern Batman films.

Why was George Clooney a Terrible Batman?

  • George Clooney himself admits that his performance was terrible (Kudos to him for apologizing though)
  • Unlike the veteran actor he is now, he was still rather inexperienced when filming the movie.
  • The script gave him terribly silly lines, even by the standards of cheesy and campy movies. (E.g. The infamous Bat-credit card scene: “Never leave the cave without it.”)
  • His Batman is NOT scary as he lacks the gravitas to pull off a serious Batman.
  • His Batsuit with Batnipples!!! (Granted, it is not his fault  but his Batman will forever be mocked for this ridiculous costume)

Batman Score: 45/100

Poor George Clooney! He will go down in history as the Batman with nipples on his Batsuit!

5. Val Kilmer

Batman Forever (1995)

Two-Face robs a bank | Batman Forever

Val Kilmer’s role and performance as the Caped Crusader in “Batman Forever” was often forgotten and underrated by fans. This is most likely caused by his notorious reputation as a difficult actor to work with, due to his bad attitude on set. This resulted in him being replaced by George Clooney in the disastrous sequel: “Batman and Robin”.

Regardless of how eccentric he is, Val Kilmer is equally famous for being an intense and talented method actor. Despite the plot’s ridiculousness, he gave us fans a Batman and Bruce Wayne that greatly resembles their comic books’ counterparts; arguably better than other live-action Batman actors on this list.

Why was Val Kilmer an OK Batman?

  • Despite his notorious reputation, Kilmer’s Batman has surprisingly good on-screen chemistry and interaction with other characters (particularly with Chris O’Donnell’s Robin character)
  • By creating a more serious Batman persona, he was able to create a good contrast between himself and other crazier characters like Jim Carrey’s Riddler.
  • Kilmer brings out the “cool and calm-under-pressure” aura of Batman and Bruce Wayne in respective scenes.
  • His Batman’s voice, demeanour and appearance feel so much like the Kevin Conroy’s Batman from the popular animated TV series!
  • This might appear as petty but the idea of a blond Bruce Wayne does not sit with some fans. Everyone knows that Bruce Wayne has dark hair!!

Batman Score: 65/100

A shame about Val Kilmer’s turbulent relationship with director Joel Schumacher; he COULD have saved “Batman and Robin” from failing so badly!

4. Ben Affleck

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Justice League (2017)

[60FPS] Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition warehouse fight Scene 60FPS HFR HD

Like Michael Keaton, there was A LOT of controversies when Ben Affleck was cast as Batman. Mostly due to his poor record in movies such as “Daredevil” and “Gigli”. Thus, fans are afraid that he will destroy the Batman legacy.

Safe to say, the man has his work cut out for him; he has to fill the shoes of the talented Christian Bale who was his Batman predecessor.

Unlike other Batman actors, Ben Affleck does not have a Batman solo movie. Instead, he made his Batman debut in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” where he silenced many of his critics with his solid depiction of the Dark Knight; an experienced but world-weary vigilante. He also made cameo appearances “Suicide Squad” and ended his reign as Batman in the horrendous “Justice League” film. 

Like him or not, Ben Affleck has shown vast potential in fleshing out the Batman persona in modern film. It is a shame that we will never see him fulfil his full potential as Batman/Bruce Wayne in his own solo film.

Why was Ben Affleck an Ok Batman?

  • This is a point that most if not ALL fans would agree on: His Batman has the best fight scenes on live cinema! Raw, brutal action!
  • Out of all of the previous actors, Ben Affleck has the most similar physical resemblance to Batman in the comics.
  • In “Justice League”, it feels as if he has lost his passion for starring as Batman and is just going through the motions; his performance feels stilted at best.
  • Even though he has a solid debut as Batman, he was unable to finish his race well.
  • By sharing his screen-time with other superheroes and without his own solo film, it is rather difficult for Ben Affleck to show how good he truly is.

Batman Score: 65/100

Sadly, Ben Affleck has decided to remove the mantle of the Batman before he could star in his own solo Batman film.

3. Adam West

Batman (1966)

Batman TV Series (1966-1968)

1960s Batman - The Shark

The late Adam West has passed away in 2017 but left behind an amazing legacy as an accomplished actor. He was most acknowledged for his role as Batman in the 1960’s Batman movie and TV series which was filled with campiness and bright colours.

No one apart from Adam West could have pulled off the challenge of playing Batman during this era. With his goofy charm and exaggerated flamboyance, he created a Batman persona known as the Bright Knight.

This is far cry from the modern Batman in comic books and movies; so it is possible that modern Batman fans might not enjoy the overall campiness of Adam West’s Batman.

Why was Adam West a Great Batman?

  • His comedic, campy portrayal as the Caped Crusader will forever be held unique amongst modern and future depictions of the character.
  • Instead of coming off as cringey, his over-the-top comedic performance provides much-needed family fun and laughter.
  • For Internet meme fans, there is so much comedic content to be taken from his Batman (E.g. The Shark Repellent Bat spray)
  • To quote Adam West himself in Season 9, Episode 17 of The Big Bang Theory: “I never have to say ‘I am Batman’. I show up and people knew I was Batman.”

Batman Score: 78/100

All hail the Adam West’s Bright Knight! May you rest in peace!

2. Michael Keaton

Batman (1989)

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman goes to work | Batman Returns

Remember the mass controversy when Ben Affleck was chosen to be the Batman in the modern DC Extended Universe franchise? That was NOTHING compared to the waves of outrage when a promising comedic actor, Michael Keaton was cast as the Dark Knight in Tim Burton’s Batman movie in 1989. So much so that 50000 letters were sent to Warner Brothers to protest against the casting choice!

Despite fans’ misgivings, Michael Keaton’s background as a comedic actor did not hinder him from giving us one of the best Batman on the silver screen in both his Batman films. It is arguable that his background as a comedian an asset for there is something insanely funny about a man who dressed up as a bat to beat up criminals.  And yet, pulled off the dark mysterious persona we fans have come to associate with Batman.

Why was Michael Keaton a Great Batman?

  • Batman felt more like a mysterious urban legend rather than the stereotypical superhero vigilante in tights.
  • For a comedic actor, Michael Keaton’s performance as Batman was absolutely frightening and intimidating.
  • His Bruce Wayne has multiple layers as a character; hiding his haunted, brooding soul under the guise of a nice unassuming guy but is absolutely terrifying when he chooses to reveal it (E.g. the “You wanna get nuts?! Let’s get nuts!” scene)

Batman Score: 85/100

Despite all the protests, criticisms and naysayers, Michael Keaton succeeded against all odds to successfully deliver Batman on the silver screen.

1. Christian Bale

Batman Begins (2005)

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises - Prison Escape [HD SCENE]

Arguably, amongst the top 3 best actors to wear Batman’s mantle, Christian Bale was known for being a passionate method actor like Val Kilmer. Thankfully, he does not have a ‘diva’ attitude.

Batman fans would honour him as the man who helped restored Batman’s legacy in Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy after the cinematic monstrosity that was the “Batman and Robin” in 1997.

This trilogy consists of these films: “Batman Begins”, “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises”. Unlike previous films, these films are grounded in dark, gritty realism and a strong philosophical overtone. Christian Bale’s performance allows us fans to visit Batman’s origins; to study his tortured psyche and what makes him tick.

One of the few criticisms made against Christian Bale’s performance is the awfully, hoarse voice that he uses when he speaks as Batman.

Why was Christian Bale a Great Batman?

  • Christian Bale brought out the “spoiled billionaire playboy” persona that Bruce Wayne was known for.
  • He has the support of good castmates who are top-notch actors and actresses. (E.g. Michael Caine as Alfred)
  • He has the advantage of starring as the main protagonist in ALL 3 movies, which absolutely helps in developing his character as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Batman Score: 95/100

Christian Bale’s representation of the Dark Knight helps answer the question: “What if Batman is real?”

You may also be interested in:

All Batman Animated Movies Ranked From Worst to Best 

Who is the Better Batman? Christian Bale or Ben Affleck?

10 Superhero Movies You Must Watch! 

More on this topic:

Armed with hidden game lore, dusty scrolls and a trusty laptop, the primate known as Brian embarked on his next journey. Maybe the galaxy far far way will not be so dismissive of his crazy theories.
Gamer Since: 2012
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Magicka
Top 3 Favorite Games:Batman: Arkham City, Magicka, South Park: The Stick of Truth

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