Batman: Best Interpretations of The Character Ranked (1966-2019)

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After the Joker, films about Superman and films about Batman, the time has come to look back at the best interpretations of Batman on screen, from 1966 until 2019. We recently got our first glimpse of the look of Batman’s suit from Reeves’ adaptation, which hits theaters next year and in which the Knight of Darkness will be played by Robert Pattinson.

Although we have high expectations of the young Briton, we have yet to see how he will cope in this role and what he will be like in relation to his predecessors. Batman is one of the characters who have a rich history in film and television, and the interpretation was varied – from top-notch to complete tragedies. In this text, we bring you a list of these roles, from worst to best, as they appeared on film and on television, from the 1966 film Batman to the Gotham series and the animated adaptations.

Since we have already written about Batman and its history in an article about movies centered around, we will not repeat those details here. We will only emphasize, that is, repeat that when compiling the list, we focused, this time, on the actor himself (with one exception) and his interpretation of the role (with the Joker, the focus was the interpretation itself, the role itself, not the actor), and we were guided criteria of the quality of interpretation, its simultaneous originality and comic consistency, but also the cultural significance of the interpretation itself.

Here, too, we may have omitted some interpretations, but the list will contain sixteen versions of Batman in derived materials, ranked from worst to best. Enjoy!

16. George Clooney

Total Appearances: 1
Appeared in: Batman & Robin (1997)

Explanation: Even after all these years, I still can’t help but wonder at this iteration of Batman, if it was Batman at all. I mean, the man on the suit had nipples?! I’m not sure what exactly Schumacher wanted to accomplish with this interpretation, but Clooney will without a doubt be remembered as the worst and most offensive Batman in the history of film and television versions of that famous character.

15. Roger Craig Smith

Total Appearances: 6
Appeared in: Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (2013), Batman: Arkham Origins (2013), Batman Unlimited (2015), Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (2015), Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (2015), Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs. Mutants (2016)

Explanation: If we ignore even the solid vocal interpretations in the two games in the Batman series: Arkham, Roger Craig Smith – who, nota bene, is not a bad voice actor at all – had the misfortune to handle the role of Batman in a very confusing and rather an “avant-garde” interpretation of DC’s world in which Batman fought various monsters, mutants, robots, and animals, in addition to regular villains. Given that, for now, it’s impossible to be worse than Clooney, Smith’s interpretation ranks penultimate simply because the version of Batman he interpreted managed to be worse than Schumacher’s and Kilmer’s adaptation that follows in 14th place.

14. Val Kilmer

Total Appearances: 1
Appeared in: Batman Forever (1995)

Explanation: Although he was far from good, Val Kilmer was still slightly better than his successor in the role of Batman. The problem with this interpretation lies in the fact that Kilmer was inserted into a conceptually bad film in which his otherwise limited acting abilities came to the fore as an obvious shortcoming. Because of all this, Kilmer gets this “high” spot on our list as one of the worse Batmans in the movie, but hey – at least he didn’t have nipples.

13. Ben McKenzie

Total Appearances: 1
Appeared in: Batman: Year One (2011)

Explanation: In this more than solid adaptation of Miller’s cult comic, Ben McKenzie even did a good voice interpretation of Bruce Wayne / Batman, but due to the fact that it remained limited to only one animated film never got a chance to develop. Far from being bad, this role got such a low ranking just because there was only one interesting memory left without lasting significance.

12. Bruce Greenwood

Total Appearances: 4
Appeared in: Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), Young Justice (2010 – present), Young Justice: Legacy (2013), Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

Explanation: Bruce Greenwood was no better than McKenzie in his interpretation, but the fact is that through two films, an animated series and a video game, we managed to get something more than Greenwood himself, and thus a better opportunity to experience his approach to the character. In general, Greenwood is one of the worse animated Batmans, but ultimately good enough not to be at the very bottom of the list.

11. Iain Glen

Total Appearances: 1
Appeared in: Titans (2018 – present)

Explanation: The series about the superhero group Titans brought us an unusual look at Batman, where the Caped Crusader is a “tool” in shaping the character of Dick Grayson, and indirectly the other Titans. Iain Glen does a good job in the limited role he has, but it is still one of the weaker interpretations of Gotham’s Bat.

10. Peter Weller

Total Appearances: 1
Appeared in: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (2013)

Explanation: The legendary RoboCop provided a rather powerful interpretation of Miller’s aging Batman in a two-part adaptation of the cult comic. Although he also appeared only once, he was, nevertheless, so strikingly superior to his predecessors and aptly interpreted this dark, futuristic-dystopian version of Batman in a world in which his dark alter ego became the only hope. It’s just a pity that Weller didn’t get more opportunities to interpret a Batman like this, but – there is still time for that.

9. Troy Baker

Total Appearances: 14
Appeared in: Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012), Lego Batman / DC movies (2013 – present), Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (2014), Lego Dimensions (2015), Batman: The Telltale Series 2016), Batman: The Enemy Within (2017/2018), Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019)

Explanation: Although better known as the voice of the Joker, Troy Baker has shown on several occasions that he can be just as convincing as Batman. This versatile voice actor mostly interpreted Batman in his LEGO version, but when these sympathetically sarcastic interpretations are accompanied by less animated interpretations and voices in a series of video games, Troy Baker was a really interesting version of Batman that deservedly goes to the middle of our list.

8. Jason O’Mara

Total Appearances: 11
Appeared in: Justice League: War (2014), Son of Batman (2014), Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015), Batman vs. Robin (2015), Batman: Bad Blood (2016), Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2017), Justice League Dark (2017), The Death of Superman (2018), Reign of the Supermen (2019), Batman: Hush (2019), Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)

Explanation: After Kevin Conroy, Jason O’Mara became the lead animated Batman and does a great job as part of DC’s animated films. Although not even close to the legendary Conroy, O’Mara is good enough to be both quality and authentic in its many adaptations which will, of course, be even more as time goes on. Given this quality, we can justifiably declare him the third-best animated Batman in history.

7. Ben Affleck

Total Appearances: 4
Appeared in: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League (2017), Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Explanation: When it was initially announced as the new Batman, I have to say I was optimistic about Ben Affleck. Snyder decided to portray him as an older, more experienced crime-fighter and that proved to be a complete hit, but due to a combination of circumstances, Affleck never got enough room to develop his Miller version of the character. On the one hand, he was replaced after only three films (one of which was only a cameo performance), and on the other hand, his last appearance was marked by an unnaturally subdued approach that Whedon brought to the Justice League, so Affleck, unfortunately, could not do more on this scale, despite the potential.

6. Will Arnett

Total Appearances: 3
Appeared in: The Lego Movie (2014), The Lego Batman Movie (2017), The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

Explanation: When Will Arnett lent his voice to LEGO Batman, he managed to refresh the role like a little before him. At the same time dark and hilarious, Arnett’s Batman was one of the best and most enduring characters in the LEGO series, completely redefining the possibilities with Batman’s character, while remaining sufficiently appropriate and authentic. Due to that originality and skill, but also the fact that his “I’m Batman” monologue is still often quoted among fans today, Arnett broke through to such a high place on our list.

5. David Mazouz

Total Appearances: 1
Appeared in: Gotham (2014 – 2019)

Explanation: Young David Mazouz had only a couple of shots as Batman, while he did most of his role in the excellent Gotham series as Bruce Wayne. However, this young actor hit a good chunk of the essence of Bruce Wayne, his internal conflicts, and his moral code, so much so that along with Ben McKenzie and some villains he was undoubtedly one of the pillars of FOX’s excellent series. Because of all these facts, Mazouz was quite justifiably given such a high place, as one of the best interpreters of Batman in history.

4. Adam West

Total Appearances: 5
Appeared in: Batman (1966 – 1968), Batman (1966), The New Adventures of Batman (1977), Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016), Batman vs. Two-Face (2017)

Explanation: The legendary Adam West marked Camp Batman and will no doubt be remembered as one of the best in that role. Although quite funny from a modern perspective, Adam West defined Batman for many generations and was a symbol with significant social influence, whose historical significance is only growing. Therefore, there is no doubt that this now cult role deserved a place at the very top, and the late Adam West, despite all the bizarreness of the 60s, deserves praise, both for the plays and for the voice interpretations.

3. Christian Bale

Total Appearances: 3
Appeared in: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Explanation: In the deliberations between second and third place, Christian Bale fell to third for one reason – the second place went to the better Bruce Wayne. Bale was a good Batman, he had everything he needed, and when you add Nolan’s genius to that, then without a doubt you get one great interpretation. Bale was also a good Bruce Wayne, but when you compare him to the runner-up, then the role of Batman’s alter ego is still a bit weaker with Bale, which is not a disadvantage, but if we are already doing this list – then it must have been the deciding factor.

2. Michael Keaton

Total Appearances: 2
Appeared in: Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992)

Rationale: He appeared only twice – in 1989 and 1992 – in an atypical role for him, but Michael Keaton became and remained the best Batman in history thanks to Tim Burton’s vision. His role was time-consistent and authentic, complete in the sense that it offered both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and showed the splendor of Michael Keaton’s talent, which is still a reference point for all modern interpretations of Batman, just like Adam West was a reference point before him. Keaton is masterful, Keaton is unique and that is why it deservedly takes second place on our list.

Honorable Mention

In the English dubbing of the anime film Batman Ninja (2018), Batman was voiced by Roger Craig Smith, but we singled out this extremely interesting and ingenious version of the Dark Knight as Honorable Mention for the simple reason that it is a Japanese film and the original voice role of Kōichi Yamadera, Japanese seiyū actor, who did a great and above all interesting job with “Japanese Batman”. That is why we single out this interpretation as Honorable Mention, and we warmly recommend the film Batman Ninja because of the originality and creativity invested in the creation of that film.

1. Kevin Conroy

Total Appearances: 37
Appeared in: Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995) and all sequels and films from the DCAU continuity (1993 – 2006), Batman: Arkham series (2009 – 2016) and other video games (1994 – 2018), Justice League Action and other animated series (2016 – 2019), Batman: The Killing Joke (2016), Batwoman (2019)

Explanation: At the top of the list is a single, unrepeatable and ultimate Batman – Kevin Conroy. The man who marked this role in the best possible way, with a record number of performances, and we have never seen him in almost all iterations. Whether it’s a cult animated series or related animated films, whether it’s video games – Kevin Conroy offered absolutely everything Bruce Wayne and Batman should be, that is, he offered us an interpretation of Batman to make it sound like comics can speak. Unrivaled, Conroy gave his voice to Batman, and with that voice, he created the best, highest quality, and most authentic version of the Dark Knight of all time that, most likely, will never be surpassed.

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