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Favorite cinimatic Batman


Quetzalcoatl
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Here’s my personal ranking…

1)      Michael Keaton – No one is ever going to top Keaton’s Batman for me.  I know that he was a far cry from the character we know from the comics, and Burton took a lot of heat for not respecting the character, but I’ve always liked his take on Batman.  Keaton was by far the most intimidating of all the on-screen batmen.  I love the whole silent but deadly thing he conveyed.  He never said much when in the suit, and that just made him all the more imposing.  Bale and Pattenson did a lot of yelling and screaming at people when in the bat suit, and as intimidating as Batman yelling at me would be, it doesn’t come close to that cold, silent stare that Keaton gave his enemies.  Keaton’s Batman never lost his composer like we saw Bale and Pattenson do, but he still came across as the most dangerous.  While most iterations of Batman has lines that he won't cross, you really get the impression that Keaton’s Batman is capable of anything, and that he’s suppressing something really dark.  Also, no one showcased the Batman/Bruce Wayne duality as well as Keaton did.  He went back and forth from playing a lunatic in a bat suit to an awkward guy who’s trying to have a normal life and normal relationships, but just doesn’t know how.  You can really see the tug-of-war going on in his head. 

2)      Robert Pattenson – Oswald comes in at number 2 because his version felt closest to the definitive comic book Batman for me.  “The Batman” got the character right more than any other film, in my opinion.  Unlike the other movie versions, where something always stood out as radically “off” from the character that fans know (like Batman murdering people, for example), I’m having a hard time finding any glaring thing in Pattenson’s Batman that isn’t true to the character.  His Batman is also the most grounded.  Watching the film, I never once felt like I was watching a superhero movie.  Whether that’s a good or bad thing I guess depends on who is doing the viewing, but for me, Batman is one of those characters that works best in a more grounded setting.

3)      Ben Affleck – I feel like its hard to properly judge Affleck’s Batman without him having gotten a solo film.  He always had to share the screen with other superheroes.  We never got to see this Batman in his element.  Like Pattenson’s Batman, I want to see him in a more grounded setting, just fighting crime in the back alleys of Gotham, not saving the world from aliens with the Justice League.  While I really disliked BvS, I do appreciate that it showed us an aspect of Batman’s character that had so far been absent in previous portrayals.  Namely, the paranoid, untrusting Batman who doesn’t like anything or anyone he can’t control.  Anyone who’s read comics long enough has seen this side of Batman, and BvS gets points for finally bringing it to a mass audience. 

4)      Christian Bale – I love the Nolan films, but Christian Bale has become my least favorite cinematic Batman (besides Clooney and Kilmer).  It’s funny because, when I walked out of the theater after seeing Batman Begins, I remember thinking “They finally got him right.”  But in hindsight, Bale’s Batman is the most un-Batman-like.  For me, he came across as the most unmotivated of the Batmen.  We all know that, if there is one word to describe Batman, it is obsessive.  And depending on who’s writing him, “disturbed” might be an applicable term as well.  But Bale’s Batman didn’t come across as obsessive or disturbed, just depressed, and in need of constant encouragement from others.   You get the sense that his Batman is just as much of a mask as his Bruce Wayne, as opposed to Batman being the real persona, something that, again, the Burton films really nailed.  And for Batman, he also relied too heavily on others.  If it weren’t for Alfred’s lessons on how the criminal mind works, or Lucious Fox supplying him with all of his technological gadgets, you would have to wonder how effective he would have been in his vigilantism.  Also, I get that he’s a billionaire and has access to all sorts of technology, but he isn’t Iron Man.  His suit could do way too much. 

I’m not going to comment on Val Kilmer or George Clooney because those films were pure cheese and I can’t even take them seriously. 

 

Your turn!

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1. Keaton, just because that movie was such an event and moment for me as a kid.

2. Kevin Conroy. He counts and is the best.

3. Pattinson, if we’re being real, probably my actual live action favorite.

4. Ben Affleck. He had a great look and vibe, but Zack Snyder having a fundamental misunderstanding of the character tanked it.

5. Bale. I never liked, or actually even understood, how he and his movies are so revered. It was all very meh.

6. Clooney and Kilmer— ehhhh.

Honestly, the older I get, the more I just feel like Adam West was perfect.

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1. Bale 

2. Keaton 

3. Pattinson  

4. Kilmer 

5. Affleck 

6. Clooney 

I actually think Kilmer could have been the best with a few films or under a different director. Same with Affleck to a degree. Clooney just ends up playing himself in everything so he goes right to the bottom. 

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Genuine question here.

Batfkeck machine guns down people and is a literal murderer. Bale Batman “won’t kill but doesn’t have to save” Ra’s Al Ghul. Both of these were fairly and correctly criticized. But Keaton Batman flat out tells Joker he’s going to kill him, and then ties a gargoyle to his leg, guaranteeing he’ll fall from the rope ladder to the helicopter he’s trying to escape on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any criticism about this, but how is it different? I will admit I might be remembering the details incorrectly, it’s probably been 20 years since I last watched it, but is it just nostalgia and the fact that it was the first non-campy Batman movie? Why does it get a pass?

 

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Are we differentiating between Batman and Bruce--or a combination of two?

Super unpopular opinion: 

1a.  Ben Affleck (I LOVE Snyder's DC universe.  (Sidenote--I just read the Watchman/ DC crossover comic and I enjoyed it--anyone else get it?)

1b.  Keaton

2. Bale

I think everyone else was whatever.

35 minutes ago, Darth Krawlie said:

Genuine question here.

Batfkeck machine guns down people and is a literal murderer. Bale Batman “won’t kill but doesn’t have to save” Ra’s Al Ghul. Both of these were fairly and correctly criticized. But Keaton Batman flat out tells Joker he’s going to kill him, and then ties a gargoyle to his leg, guaranteeing he’ll fall from the rope ladder to the helicopter he’s trying to escape on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any criticism about this, but how is it different? I will admit I might be remembering the details incorrectly, it’s probably been 20 years since I last watched it, but is it just nostalgia and the fact that it was the first non-campy Batman movie? Why does it get a pass?

 

I think it is okay for different takes on Batman as long as it is the same movieverse.  I have heard of some sequels movie trilogies where the characters change personality and act against their core values without ever showing why.

I am obviously referring to the OG TMNT movies.  Also--I LOVED the Watchmen comic when I read it in hs.  I loved the Watchmen movie.  I loved the Watchmen sequel series.  Even the sequel tv series, which was a sequel to the comics, had different takes on the characters to the comic.  

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52 minutes ago, Darth Krawlie said:

Genuine question here.

Batfkeck machine guns down people and is a literal murderer. Bale Batman “won’t kill but doesn’t have to save” Ra’s Al Ghul. Both of these were fairly and correctly criticized. But Keaton Batman flat out tells Joker he’s going to kill him, and then ties a gargoyle to his leg, guaranteeing he’ll fall from the rope ladder to the helicopter he’s trying to escape on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any criticism about this, but how is it different? I will admit I might be remembering the details incorrectly, it’s probably been 20 years since I last watched it, but is it just nostalgia and the fact that it was the first non-campy Batman movie? Why does it get a pass?

 

Also--why do people go so tied up with the superhero being portrayed incorrectly.  Ever Joker/ Lex Luthor/ Shredder/etc has a different take.

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6 hours ago, Darth Krawlie said:

Genuine question here.

Batfkeck machine guns down people and is a literal murderer. Bale Batman “won’t kill but doesn’t have to save” Ra’s Al Ghul. Both of these were fairly and correctly criticized. But Keaton Batman flat out tells Joker he’s going to kill him, and then ties a gargoyle to his leg, guaranteeing he’ll fall from the rope ladder to the helicopter he’s trying to escape on. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any criticism about this, but how is it different? I will admit I might be remembering the details incorrectly, it’s probably been 20 years since I last watched it, but is it just nostalgia and the fact that it was the first non-campy Batman movie? Why does it get a pass?

 

For me is because Keaton's Batman is literally like watching the Mark of Zorro. He finally comes face to face with the guy who killed his parents, and he is saving Gotham in the process.  What would you do in that situation?  That and I don't have a criticism of Bale's batman.  Just Batfleck. 

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I don’t think it was ever actually called out in the early ones that Batman doesn’t kill people? I’m guessing it’s a big point in the comics but film wise I didn’t think they really established it as a trait for him until Batman Begins. 

That’s what threw me with the Affleck version, after not killing was such a big part of the character in the last three, didn’t feel right seeing him going on a bit of a kill spree.

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Keaton's Batman killed a lot of people, not just the Joker.  One of my favorite scenes from Batman Returns

But the Burton films were more satirical and I don't think were meant to be taken as seriously as the others, and maybe that's why they seem to get a free pass.  The killing scenes, like the one above, were mainly there for slapstick comedy.  It was always funny when Batman killed someone in the those films.  

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My list!

 

1. Keaton! His two movies are great and I'm still hoping for to see him again Flash.

2. Totally agree about Conroy, he only did the voice and that one live action appearance, but his take is the most iconic. It's hard to read anything with Batman without hearing him.

3. Bale, even though I hate the voice he did for it.

4. Batfleck, but only for the action. I thought this version was too paranoid, even for Batman. And he was an idiot.

5. Pattinson. Didn't really like anything about the movie and didn't like him as Bats or Bruce. Probably the most bored I've ever been watching a Batman movie.

 

The rest are pretty campy, so I view them all the same. Entertaining but they're not serious takes on the character.

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I’ve never seen the very first Batman (‘46) — it’s the one they made by chaining together a bunch of the serials together. The costume has always looked sort of pleasingly janky to me and the plot is apparently extremely extremely racist towards Japanese-Americans!?!? Haven’t seen the sequel from ‘49 either, which features a different cast. Hmm.

 

Batman (‘66) is incredible. Adam West is ★★★★. I saw this and the show as a little little kid and did not in any way whatsoever interpret it as a comedy. It was deadly serious stuff to me. I found The Joker terrifying!!! There’s an episode in which he goes to Stately Wayne Manor and sneaks his way into The Batcave which was as grotesquely fear-inducing to me at that age as, like, The Strangers (‘08) is to grown-ups. I could not finish watching it! I insisted we switch the channel on my uncle’s television!! This would’ve been ... in the very very early nineties so I must’ve been five? Six? At the most?

 

Keaton Batman likewise incredible. Also ★★★★. He is just this genuinely odd presence.

 

Kilmer & Clooney also very very very good in the role. Gotta give them ★★★★. I am sensing a pattern here!!!!1!

 

Kevin Conroy is Batman. There’s that episode of the animated series where somebody (the Mad Hatter!?) has hacked his way into Bruce Wayne’s dreams to give him nightmares for reasons and he figures it out because the voice in his head addresses himself as Bruce and that’s NOT what he calls himself. Same deal. When I hear the voice of Batman speaking in my head, when I’m reading the latest issue of Batman (Zdarsky’s doing great!), it is Conroy’s voice that speaks. When I see lightning and hear thunder in the camera obscura of my own inner consciousness they’re directly taken from the opening credits of the animated show.

 

Gotta give both Will Arnett & Diedrich Bader a lot of credit. Great stuff! Anthony Ruivivar severely underrated too. Generally speaking, the cast of Beware The Batman (‘13-’14) is kind of top tier even as some other elements of the series come up short. I mean, Kurtwood Smith as Commissioner Gordon, Christopher McDonald as Harvey Dent, Lance Reddick as Ra’s al Ghul, Udo Kier, James Remar, CCH Pounder’s the mayor, all the stars are out!

 

Christian Bale Batman good enough at the jokes. “I’m going to tell them it was all your idea.” Solid stuff. Not going to break the needle.

 

Affleck Batman is very very good in that opening bit of Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice (‘16) where he’s just incredibly incredibly angry.

 

Pattinson Batman is not too bad at being Bruce Wayne as a kind of non-entity, in as much or more of a disguise as when he’s wearing the suit.

 

Oh, I feel like this is the thing I bring up whenever Batman pops up as a topic of discussion but here we go again nonetheless. Part of my problem re: modern Batman, ahem, modern Batmen is that they nearly always play the role better in some other movie. For Bale it was American Psycho (‘00) — he does Bruce Wayne’s manufactured authenticity and underlying sense of menace so much better as Patrick Bateman. For Affleck it was The Accountant (‘16) — you get the sense of his intelligence and, like, remoteness from this performance way more; uh, in fact, there’s a Batman manqué in Austin Grossman’s Soon I Will Be Invincible who is explicitly autistic. For Pattinson it was Cosmopolis (‘14) — this ultra-rich weirdo, there’s something more than a little Keaton-y in him there.

 

tldr = “The actors who played Batman in movies and television I saw when I was a little kid were the best! The ones who do it nowadays are the worst! The same as, like, James Bond! What a coincidence! Who’da thunk it!?!?"

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  • 3 weeks later...

I understand the love for Adam West because I love that series too. But I don’t get why we criticize certain actors for their portrayal but give others a pass. Adam West acted exactly the same way as Batman and Bruce Wayne. In the 1966 film the four villains kidnap Wayne and he beats the hell out of them and their henchmen Batman style and escapes. He doesn’t even try to disguise it. 

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People can chalk West's Bruce Wayne handling business as someone who learned to defend himself after his parents were murdered in front of him.  Just because he is a billionaire playboy doesn't mean he is a wimp, lol!  That's my head canon explanation, anyway! 

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  • 2 months later...

1. Michael Keaton - A nice balance between Batman and Bruce. I believe he would dress up as a Bat with his mindset.

2. Robert Pattinson - I liked the intensity he brought to the part. Not much there with Bruce Wayne though which actually works well in the film with his Wayne being a recluse.

3. Adam West - Just pure fun and likable in the part.

4. Christian Bale - That deep cookie monster growl voice brings him down for me. Physically he was great but he was better as Bruce Wayne.

5. Ben Affleck - I really didn't care for the Snyder movies. He was the best part. 

6. Val Kilmer - He did an okay job in a terrible film. I would have liked to see him in a better film.

7. George Clooney - He didn't differentiate between Batman and Bruce Wayne at all. A good actor doing a horrible job.

 

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I guess I should update mine since I saw The Batman....

1.  Keaton- Still top dog for me.

2. West- Always will like the Bright Knight.

3.  Conroy-He counts, Mask of the Phantasm!

4.  Pattinson- Really surprised me how much I liked him as Batman.  His Bruce Wayne was a little on the emo side, though.

5.  Bale- No complaints, liked him as Batman, didn't like his Bruce as much.

6.  Affleck- Probably one of the good things to come out of BVS and JL.  LIked him as Batman, anyway.  

7. Kilmer-Meh.

8. Clooney- Still hate him as Batman. 

 

 

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On 8/22/2022 at 9:47 PM, R.CAllen said:

There’s that episode of the animated series where somebody (the Mad Hatter!?) has hacked his way into Bruce Wayne’s dreams to give him nightmares for reasons and he figures it out because the voice in his head addresses himself as Bruce and that’s NOT what he calls himself. Same deal. When I hear the voice of Batman speaking in my head, when I’m reading the latest issue of Batman (Zdarsky’s doing great!), it is Conroy’s voice that speaks.

Have to correct the record here. The moment I was thinking of was actually from an episode of Batman Beyond (‘99-’01). Got it mishmashed with an original animated series episode —written by Joe R. Lansdale!— where Kevin Conroy ZT”L realizes he’s been trapped in a dream world by the Mad Hatter because everything he reads is written in gobbledygook.

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