There has been a rumor this week and today many news outlets have confirmed it, that Michael Keaton is back as Batman for multi-universe Flash movie, I don’t know much of the details other than Keaton once again playing the caped crusader. As someone who is 1988 saw the Batman movie and loved Keaton as Batman, it is very exciting news and I can’t wait to see how they do this or what will the story be about. Batman has to be the most loved and successful character for DC comics whether it’s on film, television, or comics. This news inspired me to go through the history of Batman and see if I can in the end chose my favorite Batman.
Created by Bob Krane and Bill Finger in 1939 with his first appearance in Detective Comics #27. Upon research, for this post, I learned that Batman has appeared in movies as early as 1943. The first one was 15 short theatrical series with Lewis Wilson as Batman (Wikipedia, 2020). In the same 15 theatrical series format then came to Batman and Robin where actor Robert Lowery played Batman.
In 1966 Adam West played Batman in the hit television series. Not series in nature, the show was more fun and lighter when compared to other Batman incarnations. I have never been a big fan of this rendition of Batman, although West is big in popular culture. I think the silliness of the stories worked at the time and for some people, sadly not for me.
In 1988, Tim Burton created a great Batman movie. The style of the movie was perfect, the cast was perfect. Jack Nicholson playing the Joker brilliantly and Michael Keaton playing a more serious and believable Batman. The first two films still stand out today at least for me. Batman Returns was a good sequel with Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer playing the Villains along with Christopher Walken. After that the movies shifted in tone, Batman Forever was not bad, Val Kilmer was a good actor and he was not bad as Batman. The worst Batman movie and actor playing the role has to be in Batman and Robin, George Clooney is a great actor, but even he admits he was not a good Batman. Maybe the script did not help him, I don’t know.
After that, Batman found the spotlight again but on television. The amazing Batman The Animated series premiered in 1992 and to this day stands as a great achievement both visually and story-wise. The show featured Kevin Conroy as Batman, he has voiced the character in many of the animated movies made during the shows run and after. I am a fan of DC’s animated movies and I think Batman Mask of the Phantasm is a great film with a great story. I believe Conroy does a good job of giving Batman a voice in these animated adventures.
Then came what I believe is the best three Batman movies. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy changed the superhero genre. The best thing about this movie is that it is still Gotham City but it looks like a real city and it just feels more real. In this trilogy, Batman is played by the great actor Christian Bale and he nailed both Bruce Wayne and Batman. The voice was the only thing I would change but that did nothing to harm his performance.
Then came Ben Affleck as an older Batman and although the movies are not well received. I liked Ben’s take and performance of Batman. The movies had issues with the script and minor issues but Ben did his job. It would have been interesting to see a Batman movie with Affleck.
So in the end, I have a tie. Michael Keaton and Christian Bale are to be the best to wear the Batman costume. Although Conroy and the animated movies have a strong case because the ones I have seen are of very good quality. But Bale and Keaton are my picks.