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Ranking the (Non-Animated) Film Batmans!

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
In another thread, @Imaculata wrote about his love for the Michael Keaton version of .... BATMAN. So I thought I'd start a thread wherein people can debate their favorite Batmans from film!

Four notes:
1. This is non-animated only, because otherwise Kevin Conroy would win. Kevin Conroy wins everything, forever.

2. This is movie (film) only; this does not include TV versions of Batman, or other appearances by Batman in other media such as video games. And definitely not comics. However, it does include Adam West as he appeared in a film.

3. It has to be a major-ish role in the film, and as Batman. So little Bruce Wayne in the recent Joker movie doesn't count either.

4. You can't say Robert Pattison, because we've only seen a trailer.

I am going to use wikipedia for the list:

Using the criteria above, we have 12 movies, and 8 actors for Batman:

Lewis Wilson (Batman, 1943)
Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin, 1949)
Adam West (Batman: The Movie, 1966)
Michael Keaton (Batman & Batman Returns, '89-'92)
Val Kilmer (Batman Forever 1995)
George Clooney (Batman & Robin 1997)
Christian Bale (The Nolan Trilogy '05-'12)
Ben Affleck (BvS, Justice League '16-'17)

Not Rated
Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery.

I am sure that they were great for their time, but trying to compare pre-'50s movie serials to the other movies is .... impossible.


1. Michael Keaton
A lot of the surrounding movies hasn't aged that well, but his role in the two first "real" Batman movies cemented so many archetypes, and he did an amazing job both as Batman and also as Bruce Wayne.

2. Adam West
I mean, it's Adam West.

3. Christian Bale
I love Christian Bale and think he's one of the greatest actors of this generation. I also love the Nolan trilogy. But while he is good, he doesn't make the role IMO.

4. Batfleck
He actually has a very specific take on Batman that I enjoyed and I think it's a shame we never saw him in his own movie. He was much better than the surrounding material.

5. Val Kilmer
This was the beginning of the transition from "Val Kilmer, amazing actor" to "Val Kilmer, terrible person you don't want to work with." Did you remember he was a Batman?

6. George Clooney
He may be the worst Batman, but he has a gorgeous house (okay, villa ... okay, mansion) on Lake Como and I don't.
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
1. Bale. The Nolan trilogy is peak superhero film for me.

2. Keaton.

3. Adam West for the fun.

4. Batfleck.

5/6. Both the Schumacher actors. I don't think it was their fault.
 


Not Rated
Lewis Wilson, Robert Lowery.

I am sure that they were great for their time, but trying to compare pre-'50s movie serials to the other movies is .... impossible.

I really want to take West out of the rankings, too. The style of his Batman was so different I don't think it's really comparable.

That leaves me with:

1. Keaton.

2. Bale.

3. Kilmer. For not having much to work with, I feel like he did a respectable job.

4. Afleck. I only saw BvS, and was extremely underwhelmed. The Snyder cut of JL has me interested, though. He could go up after that comes out.

5. Clooney.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I really want to take West out of the rankings, too. The style of his Batman was so different I don't think it's really comparable.

He is!


...and yet, can you make any list of non-animated Batmans and NOT include Adam West?

...It is, after all, the duty of every good citizen of Gotham City to report meeting a man from Mars in a public park.
 


the Jester

Legend
For me:

1. Ben Affleck.
2. Michael Keaton.
3. Christian Bale (but he had the best Batman movie).
4. Adam West.
5. Lewis Wilson or Robert Lowery; I've seen one of the 40s movies, and I don't recall which. Either way, he was better than-
6. Val Kilmer.
7. George Clooney.
 

Tonguez

Legend
Adam West is still the greatest version of Batman ever on screen!
Ben Affleck was great at capturing the grim elder Batman
Christian Bale
Michael Keaton
George Clooney
Val Kilmer - Its the car right, chicks love the car
Lewis Wilson - too racist and a terrible suit
 

Herschel

Adventurer
1. Christian Bale - Definitive and awesome
2. Ben Affleck - Really good at it
3. Michael Keaton - His Bruce was a nice take and it's hard to believe he's only #3.
4. Adam West - Camp with class, but cheerful Batman rubs me wrong.
5 Kilmer/Clooney - All the camp with 87% less fun.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Keaton batman was best batman.

I haven't seen Afleck so can't comment on him. I thought Kilmer was pretty good, maybe 2nd equal with Bale whose batman sounded like he lost his voice.

I don't really rate West batman against the rest because he's in a class of his own. Though Clooney batman was leaning into West territory.
 


Fav liveaction Batman:

1. Bale may be my favourite Batman, but Keaton is my favourite Bruce Wayne. So a tie.
2. Adam West. I grew up watching this batman. He was endlessly entertaining.
3. Val Kilmer... only because the others are so terrible. Truth be told, Val Kilmer's Batman performance is really forgettable. But Clooney was easily the worst, and I strongly dislike Batfleck's brutish violence.

Fav liveaction Joker:

1. Heath Ledger, what a performance. This man put so much work into this role, I wish we got more of it.
2. Jack Nicholson, the first dark take on a live action Joker. He clearly has so much fun in the part, despite the gruelling makeup work. He was so good in the part, that he largely overshadowed Keaton.
3. Cesar Romero, although he refused to shave his mustache for the part, which is annoying. But he has a great Joker cackle.
 
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Nobby-W

Far more clumsy and random than a blaster
1. Adam West, of course. Do I really look that old?

Christian Bale in the Nolan trilogy was pretty good, though. The others were pretty unmemorable.

Tom Hardy's Bane was a pretty good villain - he made a decent fist of the character. I haven't seen Jared Leto, but all the Jokers I have seen (Mark Hamill, Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero) were all very well done and memorable performances. I don't think I've ever seen a badly done Joker, although I'm definitely in the Heath Ledger camp as my fave.
 
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MarkB

Legend
Keaton in the 1989 Batman is the best. He plays up the Bruce Wayne / Batman dichotomy well, and that movie has an energy to it that the others don't, especially considering that when it came out, the superhero movie genre was looking pretty dead.
 

I love how Keaton wears his glasses in the batcave when he is doing detective work and brooding behind his wall of computer screens, and Alfred is very much his partner in the 1989 Batman and Batman Returns. I think I like this take on Bruce Wayna and Alfred the best. In the Nolan films, Alfred seems more disapproving of Bruce's antics, trying to get him to lead a normal life, like a worried father. Which I guess fits the story that Nolan was going for and I don't really have a problem with it. But Alfred working together with Bruce feels more in line with the comicbook character.
 

Retreater

Legend
My preferences are
1 Keaton
2 Bale
3 Affleck
4 Kilmer
5 West
6 Clooney

Keaton's Batman hit at the right time for me (early teens) and those movies were the first depiction I saw of "modern" superhero films.
Bale was brooding, artful, and gave an amazing performance. I liked the movies but they didn't really capture the Batman comic feel that I grew up with (1970s-1980s).
Affleck could've rated higher. I don't feel like he was able to really give his all because he was more of a side character in some pretty bad movies.
 

Yeah, I think its fair to say that the 1989 Batman was the first dark depiction of Batman on the silver screen and it paved the way for the multitude of comicbook adaptions that we see today. Nolan's trilogy was more of a 'realistic' take on Batman, trying to root the movie in as much believability as possible. But Keaton's Batman is certainly more true to the comicbook feeling.

I still remember seeing the 1989 Batman in the theaters... it was insane. There were lines in front of the theater like I had never seen before. It went on for several streets. I had never seen this many people waiting for one movie.

I still have a soft spot for Adam West in my heart though. When I hear his voice, I instantly think of Batman.
 
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ccs

40th lv DM
My two favorites;
Michael Keaton - love this version. Keaton in/out of the mask, the suit, the car, the Danny Elfman theme, Gotham, the supporting casts.
Adam West - Love this show. The car. Silly, endlessly entertaining, no matter how many times I've seen an episode. I LOVE how how it's played straight (especially West) no matter how absurd the lines or plots.

After that....
Kevin Conroy - Crisis on Infinite Earths on the CW Arrowverse stuff. Even though he wasn't in the Bat-suit. :)
Christian Bale - I really liked him as Bruce Wayne. I'd like his BM more if they hadn't gone with the distorted voice. I HATE his car (unless your talking about the sports car he wrecks late in #2).

Lewis Wilson (Batman, 1943)/Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin, 1949) - they're 1940s serials. They are what they are. Wich is still better than

Ben Affleck - He really only had that one really good fight sequence in the warehouse in BvS.
Val Kilmer - Bleh. Though the car was sorta cool.
George Clooney - Even more bleh. And the car. :(
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
I think the blandness of Clooney's performance was a tremendous boon to his career. I forget he was in that terrible movie within moments of watching it. I bet he doesn't even remember playing Batman. Had he been a memorable Batman the movie still would have been terrible on the strength of a hundred other awful things, and I'd think of it whenever I saw him.
 

trappedslider

Adventurer
I think the blandness of Clooney's performance was a tremendous boon to his career. I forget he was in that terrible movie within moments of watching it. I bet he doesn't even remember playing Batman. Had he been a memorable Batman the movie still would have been terrible on the strength of a hundred other awful things, and I'd think of it whenever I saw him.
Legend states that if you were to meet him and show him a ticket stub from the movie he would reimburse you for it.
 

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