Everyone seems to have a different opinion on who their favorite Batman is, but most people don’t separate Batman and Bruce Wayne. An actor can be an excellent Bruce Wayne, but a mediocre Batman (and vice versa). Below are our rankings of each of the six live-action Bruce Waynes and Batmans that have been put on film!
Bland, bland bland. In the overstuffed Batman and Robin, Wayne is barely present in the film. There are three villains, two sidekicks and a subplot involving Alfred’s declining health. It’s all just too much for a movie with a 125-minute running time. Clooney never stood a chance.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael Keaton, but his Bruce Wayne just isn’t that interesting. In both films, his main arc centers around woman troubles. While Selina Kyle is a much better foil for him than Vicki Vale, it doesn’t give Keaton’s Bruce Wayne much depth.
My thoughts on Adam West’s Bruce Wayne are not particularly strong. He’s neither great nor terrible, which earns him a spot right in the middle of this list.
Batman Forever isn’t a great film, but it’s far from terrible. Kilmer imbues his Bruce Wayne with just the right amount of depression without being too much of a downer. His romance with Nicole Kidman’s Chase Meridian was a bit of a snooze, but Kilmer owned the role.
Say what you will about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (and everyone has lots of things to say), but Affleck’s Bruce Wayne was without a doubt one of the best parts of the film. This is a Batman we haven’t seen before (in the film’s, at least). This is a weathered Batman who has been around the block a few times (over the course of 20 years). It’s a nice take on Wayne and Affleck handles it wonderfully.
Out of all the Bruce Waynes put on film, Bale’s has the most personality and charisma. He was put through the wringer in all three of Christopher Nolan’s films and, since we spent three films with him, we got to know him the most out of all the other film incarnations of Bruce Wayne.
There’s just no getting around it: George Clooney is the worst Bruce Wayne and the worst Batman (even Clooney himself agrees). It’s not really his fault, though he does look bored in the role. While it’s been mentioned countless times, it must be reiterated that the Bat-Nipples take away any good will his version of Batman might have had.
It’s not that Kilmer’s Batman is outright terrible. He just doesn’t leave much of an impression after the two-hour film concludes. This is mostly because his thunder is stolen by the scenery-chewing Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones, making the villains the true stars of Batman Forever. Random note: I never noticed that Kilmer’s Batman has nipples too!
Batman just doesn’t have a whole lot to do in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Barring one or two awesome fight scenes (that totally rip off fight scenes from the Arkham video games in the best way possible), he doesn’t make enough of an impression to rank higher on this list. Mostly a CGI creation, Affleck doesn’t really get to stretch his bat muscles that much. Maybe in Suicide Squad?
Adam West’s Batman is an iconic portrayal. Sure, he’s goofy and over-the-top, but that’s the vibe the show was going for back in the 60s. It was appropriate for the time and was always supremely entertaining.
Look, I know Christian Bale did a great job in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, but I just can’t get over that thing he does with his voice when he’s the Batman. It comes across as goofy rather than intimidating.
I don’t really know why Keaton is my favorite Batman, he’s just always had the best portrayal. Chalk it up to nostalgia, but Keaton really seems to get what Batman is all about. He’s neither hammy like Adam West nor forgettable like Kilmer and Clooney. Say what you will about the fact that he kills people, he’s still a great Batman.
Do you disagree with our rankings? Let us know your favorites (and least favorites) in the comments below!