Batman is the greatest superhero in the history of comic books. Do we even have to explain why? It’s the gadgets, the brooding, the villains, the darkness, the batness.
To celebrate Batman’s incredible 75 year existence, here are the best portrayals of Batman in movies and stuff.
75. George Clooney
Cast by Joel Schumacher in 1996 to replace Val Kilmer in the sequel to the hugely popular Batman Forever, Clooney’s portrayal of The Caped Crusader in 1997’s Batman and Robin was critically panned in just about every way you could imagine, save for how his chin looked in the cowl.
74. Val Kilmer
Though many have criticised Kilmer’s stoic — frankly, lifeless — portrayal of The Batman, some continue to argue that his boring as sin approach to the character actually works quite well when he’s in the batsuit. Also, his characterization makes a heck of a lot more sense than George “I think he just needs to get over his parent’s death” Clooney’s.
73. Kevin Conroy in Batman the Animated Series
Many fans of Batman’s enduring story of brooding justice and pained revenge turn to the popular 90s cartoon series Batman: The Animated Series(B:TAS) for solace from the bizarre, almost blasphemous portrayals of the character on the big screen during the ’90s. Conroy’s voice acting was a central part of that show’s success, providing a Batman that sounded dark and complicated, and a Bruce Wayne that came across as a total prick. Perfect.
72. Adam West
He was goofy, charming, out of shape and a perfect representation of how little anyone cared about anything when they were stoned during the ’60s. He single-handedly turned what began as brooding crime series into an absolute joke that mainstream America refused to take seriously until Michael Keaton’s eyebrows proved Batman was better when he is sad. He did do a wonderful job of deliberately perpetuating the intended feeling for the character in the popular ’60s TV show (which only lasted 3 seasons and still managed to do decades worth of damage) which is why he ranks higher on this list than Val Kilmer.
71. Diedrich Bader in Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Batman: The Brave and the Bold is a cartoon that somehow managed to take the character less serious than the Christopher Nolan or Tim Burton incarnations, but more serious than Batman & Robin. Almost like a Batman Forever cartoon that’s actually clever and self aware. Diedrich Bader is the voice actor who portrayed Batman in this series. For some reason we have rated him higher than Kevin Conroy. Sorry Kevin.
70. The guy who played Batman in the 1940’s serials
There was a guy who played Batman in some serials in the 1940s, but we’re having a hard time pinning his name down. There might have actually been more than one actor involved in these. We’re not sure.
69. Christian Bale
Basically since the day Batman & Robin managed to make everyone who wasn’t strangely obsessed with Batman hate the character and the movies he’s in,fans began clamoring for Christian Bale to become the character because he’s actually really good at acting and he would bring a lot of legitimacy to the character. Of course, since fans are the ones who put him there, they also love to complain about him. Like, always badgering on about “the voice,” which sure it gets a little silly sometimes, like when he talks to himself in it, but it actually makes pretty good sense. And Christian Bale has really good range. Bruce is so vulnerable sometimes, and his anger seems so layered. But “oooooh blaaah I hate the voice because I like complaining about stuff and I think Christian Bale sucks because I actually hate everything.”
68. Kevin Conroy in another Batman cartoon
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is really really really good. Like, so good. Maybe the third best Batman film from the ’90s.
67. Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer has also played Mark Twain before, and a lot of people say he does a really good job. Which is funny, since Mark Twain was a real person and he has to base his characterization on what people actually know Twain was like. That seems hard. You would think that playing a character that is made up and stems from comic books would be a lot easier. But nope, Val Kilmer sucked.
66. Adam West
Every time a new Batman movie that is actual dark and complex comes out, Adam West complains that he fears the character is straying too far from its roots, because he has no idea what he’s talking about.
65. Christian Bale
Christian Bale has won an Academy Award. That should mean something to people. But instead it’s “ pooooooh poooooh I think he has funny teeth and that would make it easier for people to identify Bruce Wayne as Batman. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhh.”
64. George Clooney
He was Fantastic Mr. Fox.
63. Adam West
The ’60s were strange.
62. Christian Bale
The thing about Christian Bale is he really nails the duality. You get that he’s a scared little boy trapped in a grown man’s body. His mind replays that horrible scene of his parents being shot over and over and over again. It torments him. He doesn’t let it go. We get that because Christian Bale is a good actor. But all we ever hear is “Blehhhhhhh bleuuuuuuuu he was in Newsies and I’m going to bring that up all the time for no reason.”
61. Kevin Conroy in video games
Kevin Conroy was also the voice in some of the video games, like almost all the Arkham games. He’s just as good as he was in the cartoon, which is really good. But not as good as Mark Hamill as The Joker. Sorry Kevin.
60. Val Kilmer in Willow
Willow is a really underrated movie. And Val Kilmer is really good in it. He’s charming and funny and scruffy. He also demonstrates that he is in fact capable of having charisma.
59. This Diet Coke can
58. Christian Bale in Batman Begins
57. Christian Bale in Dark Knight Rises
56. Christian Bale’s demon face in Batman Begins
55. Christian Bale in Newsies
I mean, it’s a good movie. It’s fun.
54. George Clooney
Have you ever seen the Solaris remake he was in? It’s actually pretty good. Because, you know, Soderbergh is a good director.
53. Adam West dancing
52. Kevin Conroy
Batman: Sub Zero is also ok. Not as good as Mask of the Phantasm, but still way better than Batman & Robin.
51. Fat Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
50. Val Kilmer
49. Adam West
48. George Clooney
47. Christian Bale
46. We still have to mention the guy who played Batman in the black and white serials, but do those even count?
45. Comic-book Batman.
44. Christian Kilmer
43. George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Thou?
42. Adam West
41. Kevin Conroy
40. Christian Bale
39. Bat-Dad from Vine
38. Val Kilmer
37. The guy who wasn’t Kevin Conroy in video games
36. Dick Grayson
35. George Cloonipple
34. Christian Bale
33. Val Kilmer in Tombstone
Tombstone is my dad’s favorite movie.
32. George Clooney’s Bat Nipples
31. Christian Bale
30. Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy played Spock on Star Trek.
29. Adam West
28. Lego Batman
27. Bat Nipple
25. Valster Keatwest
24. Nipple Bats
23. Chris Baleman
22. Adam Westerwayne
21. Michael Caine
*Michael Caine wasn’t Batman. He played Alfred. Alfred is not Batman. Or is he?
20. Christian Bale
19. Batnipples never forget
18. Bruce Wayne
17. The guy from the black and white serials again
16. Michael Keaton
When he was initially cast to play Batman by then relatively unknown director Tim Burton, many feared that Keaton — who was primarily known for his comedic roles — would simply return Batman to the silly incarnation we had seen with Adam West. Well, they were wrong. Keaton, along with his angular eyebrows, brought a menacing, almost psychotic element to the character. Many to this day consider Keaton to be the definitive portrayal of The Dark Knight, even though he is only 5’ 10”.
15. Val Kerner
13. Batnipples Return
12. Batnipples Forever
11. Batnipples and Robin
10. Michael Keaton
9. Michael Keaton
8. Michael Keaton
7. Michael Keaton
6. Michael Keaton
5. Michael Keaton
4. Michael Keaton
3. Michael Keaton
2. George Clooney
1. Michael Keaton
Michael Keaton’s Batman was risky. He was disturbed, but he didn’t play him disturbed. He played him as someone who is trying to hide the fact that he’s disturbed. The best moments in the Tim Burton Batman films are when Michael Keaton reveals how unhinged he really is, and how haunted and obsessed with his alter-ego he is. This isn’t a practical man seeking reasonable means to fight injustice, it’s a damaged soul who dresses up in bat-armor as some sort of perverted therapy.
Keaton’s Batman isn’t the most definitive, or the truest to the source by any means, but it is the most interesting. Everything about Keaton’s portrayal — the Bat-turn, the solemn whispery bat-voice, his strangely aloof Bruce Wayne — extends far beyond the film’s flimsy script. His portrayal is iconic, like your favorite ghost story. The kind of thing people write essays about in their spare time, trying to understand what exactly it is about him that’s so interesting. None of it makes sense, which works since Burton (and Anton Furst) purposefully created a world that doesn’t make sense. It’s not hard to argue that Keaton’s Batman isn’t realistic. In fact, he hardly flirts with reality. He doesn’t dwell in hyperreality, he dwells in some sort of subconscious Hell that Tim Burton was kind enough to portray visually.
Tim Burton’s Batman is like a strange fever dream. It’s unsettling, but you don’t actually want to wake up from it. Keaton perfectly embodies that nightmare, especially in his first run at the character in 1989.
“You wanna get nuts!? Come on, let’s get nuts.”