Long time no see!
I’ve been busy working and getting ready for the upcoming school year, and also nerding out over the biggest Superhero movie release of my life: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES! I assume you all have seen it. If not, I assume you all are going to see it SOON!!!
(Moment to point out- sympathy and prayers for those lost in the Colorado shooting, and their families! This is the sickest shootout there has ever been and I hope it will never be repeated.)
Well, now that I’ve seen the movie (don’t worry, no spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t yet!) I decided to complete my list of all the Batmen that I have seen/heard in cartoons and live action films, pass judgement on them, and let you know the results just in case you’re feeling nerdy today.
Starting with the best and ending with the worst, here are the eleven actors who have represented the amazing character of Batman! There are more, of course, particularly the many voice actors who have stepped in for a moment here or there to become the voice behind the cowl, but I think these eleven are sufficient to represent the best and the worst of the Bat.
Click the names for a link to a sampling of their work.
1) KEVIN CONROY
5 of 5 stars.
Voice Actor; Batman the Animated Series, Justice League (animated series), Batman/Superman: Apocalypse (animated film), Justice League: Doom (animated film), Batman: Arkham Asylum (video game), Batman: Arkham City (video game), various other Bat-things.
Conroy is undisputedly the most well-recognized voice of Batman, and there’s a reason for that. As Batman, he provides a perfect amount of roughness to his voice, but is equally believable as the serious but kind Bruce Wayne. No matter which of the two roles he fills, his voice commands respect, and it is mainly for this reason that no one can top him. Versatile and yet consistent in his performances, no matter what he does he IS Batman.
Featured clip is from his latest work as Batman: the game Arkham City. In this clip you can hear both his Batman voice, when he speaks to Hugo Strange, and also his Bruce Wayne voice when he speaks to the crowd.
2) CHRISTIAN BALE
5 of 5 stars.
Live Action Actor; Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises.
Of all the live action performances, Bale is definitely a step ahead of the pack. His onscreen performances as Batman are breathtaking, being both terrifying and electrifying. With Bale, we never lose Bruce Wayne, the tortured soul, under the cowl of the Bat: they join and become one. When he is Bruce alone, he can be fun as well as serious as it is needed, and as Batman he brings a very raw, real, deep animalistic presence to the screen.
Links to a trailer for The Dark Knight Rises. From here you can get a sense for both the powerful Batman as well as the suave Bruce Wayne that Bale presents so well.
3) RINO ROMANO
5 of 5 stars.
Voice Actor; The Batman (animated series).
Rino’s performance focused on something a little different: enjoyment. His Bruce Wane seems friendly, approachable, and all around likeable. At the same time his Batman seemed to be content in what he does as well as being believable as a serious detective. Rino, as with Conroy and Bale, did equally wonderful performances as both Bruce Wayne AND Batman.
In the video I’ve linked, you get to see a lot of Batman right at the beginning. The Bruce Wayne voice comes in at about 5:11.
4) ADAM WEST
4 of 5 stars.
Live Action and Voice Actor; 1960′s Batman TV series, Batman: The Movie, The New Adventures of Batman (animated series).
West’s best quality: BELIEVABLE. Especially as Batman but also as Bruce Wayne, he completely convinced the audience that whatever he was doing was of the utmost importance, whether it was trying to get rid of a massive bomb or the importance of fastening the Safety Bat-Belt before driving the Batmobile. Those who discredit West’s performance as being too “campy” completely miss the fact that everything he did, he did with the determination and dedication of Batman as presented in comics of the times.
Link: Batman/Bruce’s best moments from the 1966 movie.
5) BRUCE GREENWOOD
3 of 5 stars.
Voice Actor; Young Justice (animated series), Batman: Under the Red Hood (animated film).
As the voice of Batman, Greenwood does a terrific job but somehow always manages to sound like a tamer version of Kevin Conroy. Nonetheless, he still completes both roles well and is a very believable Batman.
Links to: a rare moment where he voices Bruce Wayne.
6) MICHAEL KEATON
3 of 5 stars.
Live Action Actor; Batman, Batman Returns.
Keaton’s strongest point was his wonderful performance as Bruce Wayne. He brought a darkness and a depth to the character which had never before been presented on-screen and which definitely set the bar. However, his Batman was hollow. He lacked any presence on the screen and was easily pushed around by the villains. Keaton managed to bring half the character to life, but the title half was left woefully lacking.
This scene I’ve linked is one of the final ones from Batman Returns. I think this demonstartes well how much better the character performance becomes as soon as he starts being Bruce Wayne verses Batman. As the Bat, he’s never anything really special.
7) VAL KILMER
2 of 5 stars.
Live Action Actor; Batman Forever.
Kilmer is not exactly a bad performance, but he is not necessarily a good performance, either. Both his Batman and his Bruce Wayne were acceptable, but basic and lukewarm. Nothing exactly awful, but just plain unmemorable.
This video is actually the Riddler’s best moments, but in the first scene presented you can see Val’s Bruce Wayne.
8) ROBERT LOWERY
2 of 5 stars.
Live Action Actor; Batman (movie serials, 1949)
As Batman, Lowery was believable as a serious detective. As Bruce Wayne, however, he took the concept of “bored rich boy” to astonishingly stupid levels. Granted, at the time Bruce’s playboy act was presented in the comics as being a lot of yawning and “ho-hum”ing in people’s faces, but a straight interpretation of this did NOT work on the screen. The disinterest was so thick that it was obviously fake and very annoying.
Links to chapter 1 of the movie serials. Start watching at about 2 minutes; you’ll quickly see Batman in the cave being serious, and then it’ll switch to snobby Bruce.
9) LEWIS WILSON
1 of 5 stars.
Live Action Actor; Batman and Robin (movie serials, 1943)
He had obvious enthusiasm for the role, but lacked ANY depth. This Batman was obviously a bored rich boy who dressed up in a costume for the fun of it.
Movie Serials part 1. Watch up to about 2:40
10) GEORGE CLOONEY
1 of 5 stars.
Live Action Actor; Batman and Robin.
It wasn’t just the awful story of the “Batman and Robin” movie that made the film so hard to watch. Both as Bruce and Batman, Clooney was stiff and unconvincing. He did not seem to believe that he was Batman, or even Bruce Wayne, so why should we believe it either?
Is it telling that the only video I could find where you get to see both Bruce and Batman in this film is a “worst of” vid? Nonetheless, just to be fair, I’ve included one where everyone in the cast is picked on, not just Clooney. Pay attention to him whenever you see him, though, and you’ll see what I was talking about.
11) JEREMY SISTO
1 of 5 stars.
Voice Actor; Justice League: New Frontier (animated film).
The gravelly, flat performance in this film was like nails on a chalkboard both literally and figuratively. Sisto did nothing for the already pathetic interpretation of Batman presented here. He obviously played up the “aloof” side of the character, but instead of coming off succesfully he just seemed as flat as cardboard. Where is Kevin Conroy when you need him?
One of the better scenes of Batman is linked here… but the voice ruins it.
Agree? Disagree? Want to rearrange the names into your own list? Comment and let me know! ^_^