I AM BATMAN
As a Batman fan, I am often asked who is my favorite of all time. The problem with that question is that sometimes the actor playing him can make a great Bruce Wayne but not so much Batman and vice versa. Yes, they are the same man and yet so very different. This is not goofy Clark Kent becoming the Man of Steel. Bruce Wayne/Batman has multiple layers to their characters. With the recent release of the latest Batman film to DVD, The Dark Knight Rises, I think it would be fun to take a look back at the many incarnations of the Caped Crusader over the last 25 years.
6. Val Kilmer – Another one and done Batman. He didn’t wow me in either role. It wasn’t from a lack of effort. There was just something missing in his portrayal. Part of the problem in my opinion is Batman should never be upstaged by its villain. He doesn’t have to be greater than his villain but he can’t be overshadowed. Val Kilmer was clearly outshined by Jim Carrey’s Riddler. This alone, hurts his Batman street cred.
5. George Clooney – I respect him as an actor and an activist. I thought he played a fairly believable Bruce Wayne but nipple Batman… sorry George no can do. Was it all his fault? No, that would be Joel Schumacher and Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers who were more interested in selling action figures than creating a great Batman story and Joel for not standing up when he knew they were wrong.
4. Adam West – Depending on who you ask, either the 60’s icon killed Batman or gave it new life that carried the character for nearly 20 years. It was a product of its time. Was it campy? Holy satire Batman it was. But they say imitation is the highest form of flattery. So if this is true, than Adam West’s Batman is legendary. I can’t say he played the best of either character but he was certainly more memorable than those before and some who followed him. Besides, he drove THE most iconic Batmobile of all-time.
3. Michael Keaton – When Keaton took over the cape and cowl in 1989 most people thought Bettlejuice? I admit I was one of them. But sitting in a crowded theater and seeing him for the first time and saying “I’m Batman!” he had me. Keaton also plays a credible Bruce Wayne. Which gives him a clear edge over the men who followed him during the first wave of Batman films. Has the movie aged since 1989? It has, especially when compared to Christopher Nolan’s most recent trilogy. But Keaton’s two turns as Batman and his ability to hold his own with the likes of Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito, will forever be looked upon as the resurgence of a beloved character. Director Tim Burton paid homage to both the creator Bob Kane and legendary writer/artist Frank Miller with his vision of Gothamand the hero that protects her. By doing so, a new generation of fans was born.
2. Kevin Conroy – Who is Kevin Conroy? Mr. Conroy may be the longest running Batman actor of all-time. He voiced the Dark Knight from 1992 to 1995 in Batman: The Animated Series. He has continued to be Batman since then through several direct to video movies and video games covering 20 years. He is simply one of the very best at both roles. His ability to be Bruce Wayne in a certain voice and mannerism and then totally do a 180 and immerse himself as the Dark Knight is no small feat. It would be very hard to find anyone who does it better than Kevin.
1. Christian Bale – No one in my mind has ever captured the Bruce Wayne/Batman persona better than Christian Bale. Even though Heath Ledger gets so much praise and rightfully so for his portrayal as the Joker in The Dark Knight, Bale is very much his equal. Director Nolan took the right approach with the right actor when he started with Batman Begins. Having been inspired by Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One comic book storyline, we discover and experience in a new way, Bruce Wayne’s personal journey from scared orphan to a man who seeks vengeance for not only his parents death but for all those who seek justice but can’t. He is their voice, their knight. He is Batman.
May the Dork be with you,
The Dork Knight