Who is Batman? At its most basic level, Batman, like Iron Man, is a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. In contrast to Iron Man/ Tony Stark, the playboy persona is an action. The real Bruce is Batman. Bruce’s incredible wealth allows him to purchase an incredible arsenal of weapons and train his body to perfection.
He trains to prevent others from going through the trauma he did as a child (losing his parents) and is largely a detective, in addition to being a hero. His deductive abilities combined with his strength make him a great defender of Gotham City. His loss also puts him in a strange parental state as he takes care of a number of Robins over the years. Not all characteristics play out successfully on screen in every interpretation.
Updated March 16, 2022 by Shawn S. Lealos: With Batman in cinemas, fans met the new Batman, in which Robert Pattinson took the role. Whether he matched former Batman actors, however, is up for discussion. What is not up for discussion is how closely the characters the actors play match the portrayals of Batman in the comics.
With The Batman and also a version featured in the Arrowverse shows added to the previous adaptations, there are plenty of different reference points throughout Batman’s story. The latest film saw Batman early in his career, thinking back to his one-day year. The Arrowverse version saw an older and more experienced Batman, one who was a hero to not only Gotham City, but to the world. Here’s a look at all the live-action Batman actors compared to their cartoon counterparts.
13 Lewis G. Wilson – Batman (1943)
Lewis G. Wilson was the first actor to undertake a live-action rendition of Batman. He took on the hood in 1943. There was nothing to compare his performance with then, but it is there now, and unfortunately Wilson does not live up to the source material.
He had a Boston accent and did not have the right physique to match the fans’ imagination. He also lacked much of the complexity that Batman’s background story offers the character on the page.
12 Robert Lowery – Batman (1949)
In the 1949 sequel to Lewis G. Wilson’s film, Batman was reworked as Robert Lowery instead of Wilson. While Lowery looked better in the bat suit and took on a sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder, he still lacked much of the complexity and complicated story of the cartoon character.
Again, it was an early performance, with only Wilson before him, but with all the content that the comics offer, it’s a shame that several of Batman’s philanthropy and detective skills were not exhibited.
11 David Mazouz – Gotham (2014)
- Now streaming on Netflix.
David Mazouz is the youngest actor on our list, playing the role of pre-Batman and very early Batman in the Fox series Gotham. While Gotham deserves credit for its originality when looking at Bruce Wayne’s early life along with his career Gotham PD’s Jim Gordon (which appeared in the first Batman cartoon ever) its originality loses the classic feel of the cartoon character.
Apart from his age, Gothams version of Batman also lacks some of the anger, edge and father figure aspects of the written version.
10 Adam West – Batman (1966)
Perhaps the most famous TV-Batman came in 1966Adam West is known for giving Batman and the company a much friendlier look and reputation than any other actor.
This campy approach certainly does not match the cartoon character’s focused detective methods, but West gets the credit for the care and time he spends with his sidekick, Robin. The audience certainly also appreciated seeing the capped crusader in colors.
9 George Clooney – Batman & Robin (1997)
George Clooney was a much better Bruce Wayne than he was a Batman. He had the playboy air and the billionaire’s good looks, but he’s perhaps the least popular of the Batman actors on the big screen.
Aside from the fact that the batsuit had nipples, the film also had campy aspects like the Adam West performance, though it did not seem as intentional as the West version. Batman could not even play superhero father because there was not enough age difference between Clooney and Chris O’Donnell’s Dick Grayson / Robin.
8 Iain Glen – Titans (2018)
- Now streaming on HBO Max.
Iain Glen is the latest actor to take on the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman. While he has not yet taken batsuit on DC’s Titanshe gets a lot of credit for playing up the original cartoon hell’s mysterious obsession detective skills as he keeps an eye on two of his Robin sidekicks.
As can be seen from the Clooney and Wilson performances, the suit is not everything when it comes to playing a Batman in cartoon style. Iain Glen is stepping down on the right foot.
7 Val Kilmer – Batman Forever (1995)
Batman forever so Val Kilmer take on the hood, though his performance is neither remembered as excellent (Bale) nor terrible (Clooney), but that means he is often overlooked.
Kilmer’s performance is credited with introducing Chris O’Connell’s Robin and demonstrating Bruce / Batman’s protective ability. But besides finding his sidekick, Kilmer’s outing is more memorable for its villains than its Batman.
6 Warren Christie – Arrowverse (2019)
- Now streaming on Netflix.
Warren Christie was Batman in Arrowverse. He showed up in Arrowverse where he was an older Bruce Wayne who looks like Ben Affleck but much less violent. He was also one who was very similar to older versions of Batman in the comics.
He brought something no other live-action version of Batman has done yet. He took Batman globally and left Gotham City to try to save the world abroad. He also helped put together a network of heroes, including Bat-Wing, who portrayed Batman as more than the lone crusader most films portrayed him as.
5 Michael Keaton – Batman (1989) & Batman Returns (1992)
Keaton was both funny and scary, and it made him work on screen as Tim Burton’s version of the cartoon hero.
Keaton’s loneliness and compulsive focus made him work, though critics did not find that he looked like the playboy they would have liked. But the real Bruce is Batman, not playboy, and Keaton certainly played it on screen.
4 Robert Pattinson – The Batman (2022)
Most Batman fans thought Robert Pattinson was the worst choice for the new version of Batman. These fans have probably come around, like That Batman ended up being one of the better received Batman movies for years, both by critics and fans.
Pattinson took Batman back to his early days, similar to The year and The long Halloween version of Batman. While Christian Bale was also in this role in Batman begins, Pattinson was better as a new Batman than Bale when it comes to cartooning. Bale continued to master the older Batman, so it is still unknown whether Pattinson can surpass Bale’s overall work in future films.
3 Christian Bale – The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005-2012)
- Now streaming on HBO Max and Netflix.
Christian Bale starred in the most acclaimed play by the hijacked crusader on the big screen. IN Christopher Nolan’s Batman movieBale’s achievement gets the credit for showing the training and money that Bruce had to put into becoming Batman.
But his inner focus on his trauma (without a Robin to externalize his emotions) made him match the cartoon version of Batman, seen in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight returns rather than the original character in Detective Comics.
2 Ben Affleck – DCEU (2016–2023)
- Now streaming on HBO Max.
He was not as haunted as Bale, nor was he as separated from everyone around him as Keaton’s Wayne seemed to be. He saw the role both in the batsuit and out, and his focus on protecting the young and the innocent worked very well. The rest of his time in the role has been reported to end with the upcoming Flash standalone film at DCEU, but a cryptic post from Barry Allen actor Ezra Miller has sown doubt and confusion over it.
1 Kevin Conroy – Batwoman (2019)
- Now streaming on Netflix.
Kevin Conroy is perhaps best known for expressing Batman in a few different places, but especially on Batman: The Animated Series. Conroy got the chance to portray Batman himself recently in the crossover event in ArrowCrisis on infinite lands.
While his live-action performance reflects Batman in Kingdom Come graphic novel more than the original DC cartoon, his work both on screen and as a voice actor put him closest to Batman, which is recognizable on the page.
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