With The Batman making a killing in cinemas, many DC Comics lovers find themselves comparing Batman actors. Which bat is the best bat? I think it depends on what Batman means to you.
There have been many a Batman in film through the years, starting with Adam West in the 1966 film, Batman. West wasn’t the first caped crusader to appear on television, but he was the first to star in a live-action feature film, alongside Burt Ward as Robin.
West’s Batman brought all the lighthearted childhood comics to life, complete with sound effect graphics like, “Bam,” “Pow” and “Smack.” His subdued attire of full-bodied leotard and mask are laughable compared to today’s superhero suit standards. But for his time, West’s Batman was exactly what the world needed.
Now, we’ve got a “vampire” bat, as Twilight star Robert Pattinson joins the list of men who have donned the bat suit in 2022’s The Batman. And he knocked it out of the park. Pattinson’s Batman gives us masked Sherlock homes in an Alfred Hitchcock film vibe, and it works. Drawing on a more cerebral version of the bat, although there’s still plenty of butt-kicking, Pattinson has proved himself an asset to Gotham.
Pattinson’s Batman is fantastic, but he’s not MY Batman.
My family’s taste in bats
For my Mom, West is the first bat she thinks of. Born in the late ‘60s, she watched West’s Batman on television reruns and found his version of the dark knight charming.
For my sister, Megan, an avid bat fan, her favorite isn’t from a live action film at all. Rather, she’s partial to Kevin Conroy, who voiced the hero on Batman: The Animated Series. Her reasoning is that Conroy’s Batman was kind, and the hero has lost much of that kindness in modern takes.
For me, Batman is Christian Bale. Together, he and Christopher Nolan took the Batman origin story to an entirely new level in Batman Begins. Bale’s version of the bat isn’t as dark and twisty as Keaton’s partnership with Tim Burton made the earlier caped crusader. But he’s certainly miles apart from West’s witty Batman and Robin repartee from the 1960s.
Why Christian Bale is the Batman
Like my mom’s fondness of West, Bale could be my go-to bat because of timing. Batman Begins came out in 2005, with The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. These were prime movie-watching years for me, and I remember seeing these films in cinema.
It’s more than timing alone through.
Bale’s Batman included all the best villains. From Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow and Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Gul to later trilogy villains such as Heath Ledger’s Joker. While I admit that Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman isn’t my favorite, and Jack Nicholson’s Joker from 1989 gave Ledger a run for his money, Bale is my Batman.
Bale’s Batman introduced some of the best-supporting characters in Gotham. Let’s be real, there’s no better Alfred Pennyworth than Michael Caine.
The Bale Batman trilogy also creates layers of the hero.
There have always been a few who compare Batman and Ironman. As heroes go, these are two dudes with no superpowers (although Stark does have an arc reactor embedded in his chest), plenty of money, and all the best toys. Bale’s bat really amped up this comparison by bringing in Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Wayne Enterprises CEO and Wayne’s personal armor tech.
Give a bat a chance
Whether you’re a fan of Val Kilmer’s nipple suit, George Clooney’s face-off with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Freeze, or Ben Affleck’s brief stint in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, there’s something unique about every Batman.
For me, Bale holds a special, dark knight place in my heart. But who knows, it’s early days with Pattinson, and I love a man who looks good in glitter. As Bale’s Bruce Wayne says in Batman Begins, “A guy who dresses up like a bat, clearly has issues.” But we can’t help but love him anyway.