5. Adam West
Adam West is a God… to the Clooney and Kilmer Batmen at least.
His effortless merging of a family friendly, holier than thou fire-and-rescue version of Batman was close to perfection, his almost deadpan delivery of outlandish and hilarious lines gifting his version of the character sincerity even within the absurdity of all that was going on. West’s Batman was trustworthy, a good man – and we all need someone like that in our lives from time to time.
The reason for West’s unfortunate position on this list is not really due to him… it’s because the actors to come were simply required to offer more. More than zany fun and a hint of sincerity, the actors to come were challenged to find deep, dark connections to a more serious and challenged persona, leaving West (unfortunately for him and Batman (1966) lovers everywhere) out in the cold.
4. Ben Affleck
Despite how fleeting Ben Affleck’s run as Batman seems to have been, the veteran actor of some twenty-plus years has actually clocked the most big screen appearances as the Bat, having starred in three (and a half) movies: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League (2017). and Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Acknowledged as one of the few universally appreciated aspects of BvS, Affleck established a brooding Bruce Wayne that complimented the resourcefulness of his Batman character, the subtle nods he gave to Batman’s unhealthy psyche helping to drive investment in the Dark Knight, Wayne’s narrative feud, and the film as a whole – in doing so, he helped us all to get over our initial unhappiness at his appointment.
In fact, he was so great at playing both Bruce Wayne and Batman in BvS that he would likely have ranked higher on this list if he hadn’t been “cheered up” for Justice League, a movie in which his characterisation was seemingly completely at odds with what we’d all come to expect or indeed know of him from the previous two movies. So far as intense, brooding, dark and gritty Batmen go, Affleck produced something quite remarkable in a divisive movie and deserves praise in that regard, but his legacy will always be tainted by the reception of his films and indeed his character’s evolution.
Recommended for you: Zack Snyder Movies Ranked
3. Robert Pattinson
He may be only one film (The Batman) into his venture in the black suit and eye makeup, but Robert Pattinson’s take on the Dark Knight can already be considered a monumental success.
Donning an ever-present gloom with all-too-important but rarely seen (in other iterations) hints of privilege, Pattinson fuses himself to a physicality that makes his Bruce Wayne look like a man bearing the weight of the world.
His scowl and the ruffle in his voice ensure that this Batman doesn’t suffer from the same open-mouthed breathiness that was perhaps the most off-putting part of Christian Bale’s version, and Pattinson’s longer frame and more naturally angular features make for a far more physically impressive (certainly imposing) iteration than that of Michael Keaton. There’s also something to be said of the brattiness Pattinson manages to encapsulate in the film’s earlier scenes, his performance evolving alongside the character as the more serious issues unfold in his dual lives as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.
A deep character-led piece The Batman may have been, but in this list Pattinson is competing against actors with more films under their armoured belts, with more character evolution, and with more time to make the roles their own, though the future seems to look bright (or should that be dark?) for this latest silver screen Dark Knight.