In July of 1943, Columbia Pictures decided to release a 15-part theatrical serial revolving around the Caped Crusader. In his first onscreen appearance, #Batman battles Dr. Daka, Japanese mastermind of a wartime espionage-sabotage group. Batman, who was played by Lewis Wilson, was accompanied by none other than his trusted pals Robin and Alfred. This unforgettable serial was filled with basic elements from the superhero genre that we have come to know and love — a death ray-wielding villain who has a thing for turning people into zombies.
While we can respect the past, we shouldn't forget to embrace the future. Since his first onscreen appearance, our favorite dark and brooding hero (sorry, Rorschach) has grown tremendously on both the big and small screen. From Batman in The Animated Series, to #Batfleck in the #DCEU, we have had some amazing iterations of the character. Here are a few who I think belong in the top 5 list of the greatest onscreen versions of The Batman!
5. Adam West ('Batman' TV Series)
From 1966–1969 Adam West donned the cowl and gave us one of the most colorful iterations of the character to date. West was joined by fellow actor Burt Ward — who played Robin the Boy Wonder — throughout the show's run. Although it was long before my time, I am still able to appreciate this campy and adventurous series. The way the show ran was similar to that of Scooby-Doo, as every episode our heroes had to humorously compile a grip of clues in order to figure out how to catch their criminal.
Aside from it featuring Batman, the show's vibrant comedy is what kept its fans coming back. West approached the comedic elements of the show with an open mind and an open heart. By fully embracing the character, he was able to fit perfectly into the role that some would say he was made for. While also voicing the Batman in cartoons like Scooby-Doo and Super Friends, West became the face and voice of the character, making him a legend to be remembered.
4. Michael Keaton ('Batman,' 'Batman Returns')
In 1989, director Tim Burton constructed a world that was dark and dreary, yet filled with a sort of wonder. The mystery that lay within Burton's Gotham City drew you in to a world of crime and corruption.. sounds like a job for Batman. Not only was the suit on point, but so was Keaton's portrayal. His acting as Bruce Wayne was just as good as his acting as the Bat.
As a child, feelings of relief and reassurance washed over me as I witnessed every bit of greatness that was Batman appearing on screen. Although the environment was dark and mysterious, Keaton's Batman ironically brought light to a seemingly hopeless situation. What helps in Keaton's version being so memorable, is the fact that he was in arguably two of the greatest comic book films of all time. When my children one day ask to see Batman, this will be what I show them first.
3. Kevin Conroy ('Batman: The Animated Series')
Some may say #AdamWest is the original Batman. For me, it always has been, and forever will be Kevin Conroy. This is the Dark Knight that I grew up with, making it the one I hold to the highest esteem. This version of the character appeared in nearly every animated project, paving the way for many iterations to come. Although a kid's show, this animated series wasn't afraid to get gritty, showing the true nature of the world our Batman dwells in.
By perfecting the intimidating and demanding tone of the Batman, Kevin Conroy has definitely become worthy of recognition. Aside from that, this Bat had the dopest opening themes in animated series history. With his voice behind nearly every animated Batman, Kevin Conroy has without a doubt earned his role as this generations Batman.
2. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy)
Since we found our new Batman in Ben Affleck, some of us seemed to forget about the greatness that lay within Christian Bale's run as the Bat. This version of the character was grounded, dark, and bold. Throughout Nolan's epic trilogy, we follow the Dark Knight on his journey from start to finish; from his rise to his fall. Bale's Batman wasn't only kicking butt all three movies (and a few times getting his butt kicked) but he was dealing out valuable life lessons.
From beginning to end, this Batman has inspired viewers to rise after the fall. Through loss, regret, and failure he has continued to suit up and be the hero that his city needs him to be. That underlying message of picking yourself back up is one of the many things that makes this version of the character great. Bale's Batman is ambitious, inspiring, and one that will always have my respect.
1. Ben Affleck ('Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice')
When it was announced that Ben Affleck would be our new Dark Knight, the internet literally burst into flames. Well, of course, not literally, but it was pretty bad. Despite the hate mail, nerd tears, and mental breakdowns, Affleck's performance changed some of our tunes, as he turned out to be the Batman that a lot of us have been waiting for. Ben's stature gives us a Batman who physically towers over his enemies, packing the power of a battering ram in every punch. Not only that, but this brute of a Bat can move swiftly about the shadows, moving in and out like a demon's whisper.
The DCEU may not be particularly popular at the moment, but there's high hopes that Batfleck will do more than deliver. This Batman may not have started where we wanted him to, but he is in a much bigger and larger universe than he ever has been in, and that's what makes the version of this character great. Affleck has done a satisfactory job as the Caped Crusader, being a near carbon copy of the Bat in and out of the cowl. Here's to the adventures that await our all new Batman.
What do you guys think?