Actor Robert Pattinson is the latest addition to the long list of actors who have played the iconic character of the caped crusader. Numerous actors have portrayed the role of Dark Knight, and with Pattinson's version audiences are about to experience a new version of the character.
From Lewis G. Wilson's debut performance in 1943 until Robert Pattinson's current portrayal, the audience has seen 10 different actors play Batman. With the upcoming release of the new Batman film in India on March 4, the character has seen a significant makeover, so here is a list of actors who have played the Dark Knight on screen in chronological sequence.
Lewis G. Wilson
Actor Lewis G. Wilson was not just the first and youngest actor to play Batman, but also the least successful. Wilson holds the distinction of being the first actor to portray Batman in the 1943 television series. In the 15-part Columbia serial Batman, the inexperienced actor donned the cape at the age of 23. The series was not received well by the audience and received mixed reviews.
The second attempt at a Batman TV series resulted in a bigger actor being cast as Batman. Actor Robert Lowery took over the role in the follow-up series, 'Batman & Robin', which aired in 1949. Lowery's physical appearance, as well as the show's improved action sequences, provide for a more pleasurable viewing experience. Lowery being an experienced actor played the character much better than Wilson.
In the 1960s live-action series Batman, late actor Adam West played the superhero with remarkable realism for three seasons. He co-starred in the show with Burt Ward, who played Batman's sidekick, Dick Grayson/Robin. He returned to the character later in his career, voicing Batman in two direct-to-video films: Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders in 2016 and Batman vs. Two-Face in 2017.
Michael Keaton, who is well known for his humorous work, received widespread criticism when he was cast in the 1989 film. But Keaton and filmmaker Tim Burton proved everyone wrong when they resurrected a series that had been on life support for a long time. By depicting Batman as dark and mysterious while still capable of a sardonic grin, Keaton set a precedent for how the character would be seen for decades to come.
Kilmer succeeded Keaton in the dual role in 1995’s 'Batman Forever,' but this was a part he only got to play once in his career. During an appearance at Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo in 2012, he compared Nolan’s 'Dark Knight' trilogy to his own Batman film and said he wanted his Batman film to be like the iconic trilogy. Kilmer was brought in to replace Michael Keaton after he backed out of doing a third Batman film, and moviegoers liked his smoother style.
When George Clooney took up the Batman role after Val Kilmer's performance in 'Batman Forever,' he was bouncing between romantic comedies and action films. It ended up being a disastrous choice for the actor. The cartoonish antagonists performed by Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr. Freeze) and Uma Thurman (Poison Ivy) fell flat due to filmmaker Joel Schumacher's colourful style. According to a report by Deadline, Clooney said in 2013 that he kept a photo of himself as Batman to remind him of how bad of a choice he made.
Christian Bale's acting abilities and commitment to the roles he portrays are undeniable, and he certainly delivered the three times he played the character of Batman. One can say that the film performed well because of the near-perfect direction that Christopher Nolan is known for, but Bale definitely played a huge role in making the film a huge success. Bale did three Batman films and all three received decent reviews, even after a decade the trilogy is a classic and has a huge fanbase worldwide.
It's tough to say whether Arnett has it easier or tougher having to do only a Batman voice to play the Lego version, but it's entertaining regardless. He voiced the character perfectly in 'The Lego Movie,' 'The Lego Batman Movie,' and 'The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.'
Ben Affleck only appeared in two films as the caped crusader: 'Justice League' in 2017 and 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice' in 2016. His version of the caped crusader also made a cameo in 'Suicide Squad' in 2016. However, he never starred in a solo Batman film before parting ways with the role in 2019.