The world could use a superhero right now. Wouldn’t it be nice if Batman and his sidekick, Robin, could swoop in and save the day? Perhaps the Caped Crusader could find real solutions to coronavirus, social unrest, political bickering, etc.
Batman is more than just a comic book character. He is more than just the subject of so many T-shirts sold by Nerd Kung Fu. No, Batman represents the reality of a world that has both dark and light sides. He represents good prevailing over evil.
Are you a Batman fan? And if so, who is your favorite iteration? So many actors have played Batman and his alter ego, that it is hard to truly define the character’s personality.
The very first Batman film was produced in 1943 as a 15-part serial. The intrepid hero was played by an up-and-coming actor named Louis Wilson. Like so many actors, Wilson was ultimately defined by the role that launched his career. Though he did go on to play many other parts, his name is still intrinsically linked to the Caped Crusader.
Robert Lowery took up the role when Columbia made a sequel in 1949. Lowery was also fairly new to Hollywood at that time. Unlike Wilson though, he went on to gain recognition for decades of work in film and TV.
Perhaps the most well-known among the early Batman actors, Adam West defined the character on the television series. He gave Batman a more intellectual side as well as fatherly instincts in his role as Dick Grayson’s guardian and mentor. There has been some debate over whether or not West was on board with the somewhat campy nature of the TV series.
The first actor to play Batman in the modern era was Michael Keaton. There were questions surrounding the choice to cast him, but Keaton pulled it off with seemingly little effort. His first film in 1989 earned a ton of money and pleased the critics. He followed up with a stronger performance in 1992.
Keaton’s two films were followed by a 1995 movie featuring Val Kilmer in the title role. To some, replacing Keaton with Kilmer was like replacing Sean Connery with Roger Moore for the James Bond franchise. Kilmer decided not to do a second film because he believed that Batman fans didn’t really care who was behind the mask.
When George Clooney was tapped to play Batman in 1997, it was thought that the film’s producers were simply trying to ride Clooney’s success as a TV actor and heartthrob. Fans were unsure of Clooney and demonstrated so at the box office. His Batman is the lowest grossing film in franchise history. It was panned by critics and film goers alike.
Christian Bale is one of only two actors to play Batman in three films. He took on the role for films in 2005, 2008, and 2012. All three were huge box office successes and critic pleasers. More importantly, Bale’s performances have been credited with restoring the Batman character to its original stature.
Last but not least is Ben Affleck. He played the role of Batman in two feature films as well as a cameo appearance 2016’s Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, Affleck’s films have not done as well as Keaton’s or Bales. He just doesn’t seem to bring the same grit to the role.
So, who is your favorite Batman? Or do you not care, just so long as no one takes away your Batman T-shirts, action figures, and DVDs?