Who’s the best Batman of them all? Many actors have tried their hand at playing the Caped Crusader over the years... but not all of them have succeeded. The results have been varied, to say the least, ranging from the beloved TV version of the hero played by Adam West to the controversial casting of Ben Affleck in the most recent film.
Let’s head to the bat cave and review some of the actors who have portrayed Batman in the past — and three who could be next.
Notable appearances: "Batman" (TV series, 1966-1968)
One of the most famous — and longest-running — Batman actors was Adam West. With a goofball demeanor, his version of Batman was campy but also very charming. He played Batman for 120 TV episodes of the long-running show.
Following the show he was definitely typecast but found a niche in Batman-related appearances and voice acting, and he even wrote a book about his experiences entitled “Back to the Batcave.”
Notable appearances: "Batman" (1989), "Batman Returns" (1992)
Michael Keaton was not necessarily a popular pick for 1989’s “Batman”at first. When the announcement about his role was made, the Warner Brothers Studio received as many as 50,000 protest letters from fans.
However, the worry was unfounded. As it turns out, Keaton and the movie — under the direction of Tim Burton — were both very well received, and he even came back for a sequel, 1992’s “Batman Returns.”
Notable appearances: "Batman & Robin" (1997)
Who’s the campiest Caped Crusader of them all? George Clooney, by far. While the superstar has enjoyed success both before and after his turn as Batman, his brief tenure in the role remains a blemish on his career.
The infamously cheesy 1997 movie “Batman & Robin” had all sorts of issues, from the ridiculous premise to the sensual version of the costume that he wore. Later, he called the movie “a waste of money.”
It certainly didn’t ruin his career, however, and he’s gone on to score some impressive roles since his Batman blight.
Notable appearances: "Batman Begins" (2005), "The Dark Knight" (2008), "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012)
Many consider Christian Bale’s turn as Batman to be a pivotal turning point for the franchise. The character had a new look, a new car, a new personality, and a new star donning the batsuit. With a dark, moody tone, 2005’s “Batman Begins" was well received by audiences and critics.
But it was “The Dark Knight” that really resonated with audiences. Featuring killer villain/hero chemistry between Bale and costar Heath Ledger in his iconic role as the Joker, many considered it a massive snub when the movie was overlooked in the Best Picture category at the Oscars.
Notable appearances: “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016), "Justice League" (2017)
The “Dark Knight” trilogy was a hard act to follow. While Ben Affleck has had some major hits in his career, his turn as Batman in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was not necessarily one of them.
True, reviews of Affleck as Batman weren’t as bad as Clooney’s turn in “Batman & Robin.” But for many, his performance fell flat against Christian Bale’s or Michael Keaton’s performances as Batman in years past. When he recently appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” he admitted that he hadn’t quite cracked the code and would not be reprising the role in the next Batman movie.
Who could be next?
With Affleck hanging up his cape, who could be the next Batman? Here are some potential picks.
Michael B. Jordan
He’s played a Marvel villain, he’s played a hero, he’s played a boxer. With plenty of charisma and a Batman-perfect physique, why not play Batman next?
There have been rumors flying for years that Gyllenhaal might play Batman. He was even said to have a meeting with Matt Reeves, the director of the next installment of the franchise, coming in 2021. However, the actor has denied any offer.
From “Mad Men” to “Batman”? Jon Hamm has publicly said that he’d be interested in the role, even saying “I’d probably fit the suit.” Plenty of fans think he’d be a natural as Batman. The only problem? According to Hamm, he’s never been approached for the role by any figure of authority in the franchise.
To the Batmobile!
Batman has been played by a great variety of actors over the years, with sometimes great and sometimes not-so-great results. With a new reboot of the franchise coming in 2021, who could be the next actor to don the famous black suit?