Pop Culture Advisory: Batmen We Have Known

Online reactions to last night’s announcement that Ben Affleck will be playing the next Batman ranged from disapproval:

to support both straight and humorous:

to tongue-in-cheek pleas to maintain a little perspective.

Whatever your own feelings about Batfleck, it’s worth having a working knowledge of other portrayals of Gotham City’s mysterious defender in case patrons express an interest in the character’s onscreen history.

Adam West played Batman to camp perfection on television from 1966 to 1968 and gave viewers what is possibly the greatest superhero dance ever: the Batusi.

Michael Keaton, shown here in costume with director Tim Burton, played the Caped Crusader in the Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).








With 1995’s Batman Forever, Val Kilmer took over the title role, turning in what is possibly the dweebiest version of Bruce Wayne in the history of the franchise. (Be honest: if someone told you that was his Real Genius character’s prom photo, would you question it?)


George Clooney would seem to be a natural choice to successfully play an international playboy who also regularly and secretly saves the world, but his Batman & Robin (1997) was the lowest-grossing live-action Batman film ever.



Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) all starred Christian Bale, whose Bruce Wayne was perhaps a little too evocative of American Psycho‘s Patrick Bateman for some viewers’ comfort, but who ably conveyed the darker superhero writer/director Christopher Nolan had in mind.






When it comes to animated portrayals, there are a few surprises. Kevin Conway is widely considered the definitive voice actor for the character, but Batman has also been vocalized by Law & Order‘s Jeremy Sisto (Justice League: The New Frontier), Peter “Robocop” Weller (Batman: The Dark Knight Returns), and Billy Baldwin (Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths).

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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.