5) George Clooney (Batman & Robin)
We love George Clooney. Everybody loves a bit of the grey-haired hunk who break a million hearts when he finally tied the knot. But let’s be honest. When he stepped into the shoes of one of the most famous superheroes on the planet, did he really let his hair down and do his best to come across as one of the most memorable on-screen real-life adaptations of the Dark Knight? The answer is blatantly obvious. The movie he starred in does nothing to help his case – Batman & Robin is without a doubt the worst Batman flick – but even if he was given one of the better ones to star in, we don’t think he would have been too fantastic. He doesn’t even disguise his voice!
4) Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
Let’s not be too harsh on old Val, he wasn’t horrible in the role – he just wasn’t the impactful Bat we should have been gifted with. Some would even argue that he was outshined by Chris O’Donnell, who was pretty good in Robin’s shoes. Cringeworthy lines came alongside a campy and fun offering, meaning that the screenplay demanded by Warner Bros. by Joel Schumacher and Akiva Goldsman was simply mediocre, rather than the brilliant one we had come to expect. Perhaps Val Kilmer would have been a great choice as Batman – just in a completely different Batman movie.
3) Adam West (Batman: The Movie)
Horrendous outfit, tiny ears, weird mask, but we didn’t care. The tights gave Adam West little room to breathe – apparently – and as he starred in the 60’s Batman show that spawned a movie, he was perfectly camp, making fun of himself and the show throughout as it shined a spotlight and became greatly self-aware of just how silly a series it really was. And that’s what made it truly unique. Rarely was a show or movie in that day and age so openly honest. Adam West shined because of just that.
2) Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns)
Ben Affleck is currently suffering from what I like to call the ‘Michael Keaton Batman Syndrome’. It’s where an actor who has been announced for the Batman role is raked along hot burning coals before they’ve even been seen in action. Judged instantly, Michael had a lot to prove but when Tim Burton took a chance and went ahead with a dark and brooding storyline that allowed Michael to give it his all, superfans realised that this was a perfect step in the right direction. Playing alongside Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer and Penguin and Catwoman respectively in Batman Returns, the movie managed to grip audiences from beginning to end, and remains one of the most talked-about Bat films to-date.
1) Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
Our most modern Batman has to top this list, for putting on such a fantastic show throughout the three movies he starred in, turning the hero we all know and love into a scary vigilante – something that he’d always needed to become, and someone we’d never seen before. With a soldier-esque fighting style and intelligence, he not only proved he had the physicality to pull off the world’s most coveted role, but the brain, manipulation and confidence to do as well. Bale has not been topped, and Ben Affleck is going to have to do a hell of a lot to get anywhere near to the legacy that this man left behind.