Ranking Every Actor to Play Batman on the Big Screen

The Dark Knight RisesWarner Bros via Everett Collection

Although Batman may not be the oldest cinematic superhero (that title goes to Superman), Bruce Wayne’s alter ego is probably the most beloved and iconic. In a movie genre that is features dozens of superheroes from both Marvel and DC comic book universes, Batman is still one of the fan favorites. Since Ben Affleck will be helping Batman returning to the big screen in 2015 alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman, let’s take a look back at caped crusader’s best incarnations on film and in TV.

George Clooney

The general consensus is that Clooney was the worst Batman of all time. His wooden delivery of bad puns and the infamous “nipple suit” essentially killed the Batman franchise of the ’90s. However, for those who love a good pun (or a couple dozen terrible puns), Batman & Robin can still be enjoyable.

Val Kilmer

As the predecessor to Clooney’s Batman, Kilmer’s wasn’t much better. However, he managed to pull off the humor in Batman Forever a bit better alongside Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey. Kilmer should also be credited for knowing when to bail on the franchise because at least he jumped off the sinking Batship.

Adam West

Though most people under the age of 30 probably recognize West from his time voicing cartoon characters on Family Guy and The Fairly Odd Parents, he first became popular by playing Batman in the campy 1960s television show. Although it’s nothing like the gritty superhero films of today, if you ever catch Batman in reruns, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Will Arnett

The Lego Movie should appeal to Batman fans who might think the caped crusader has been taken a bit too seriously in recent years (looking at you Christopher Nolan and Frank Miller). Arnett’s Batman is more of a parody of the famous character, but still just as enjoyable — and probably even more hilarious.

Michael Keaton

After years out of the spotlight, Keaton (along with the help of Tim Burton) brought Batman back to the big screen. Following in West’s footsteps, though, Keaton was the first to emphasize the superhero’s darker side and he will forever hold that accolade within Batman history.

Christian Bale

After Clooney and the epic failure that was Batman & Robin, the caped crusader needed a few years off. Then, Bale brought Batman back to life in Nolan’s insanely successful — both commercially and with fans — trilogy. Though the voice was often parodied, Bale totally revitalized Batman (and made way for Batfleck, which, let’s be honest, we’re all excited to see).