They say clothes make the man – and they definitely make the Batman. While plenty of people have donned the cape and cowl in the decades since the character's creation, you can always judge a Batman by his wardrobe.
You may know who the best Batman is according to Adam West, but which of the world's greatest detectives is best dressed for success?
George Clooney – Batman and Robin (1997)
When his parents were murdered, young Bruce Wayne swore to avenge their deaths by traveling the world fighting crime and striking fear in the hearts of criminals. George Clooney's Batsuit elicits plenty of strong emotions, but fear definitely isn't one of them.
While Clooney's costume suffers from many of the same features introduced in Batman Forever – the nipples, the polyester cape, the muscled neckline – its smaller bat symbol is a pleasant throwback to Tim Burton's original design. At its core, the suit evokes the image of a nude male model lost at a goth party more than a fear-inspiring vigilante, which would explain the scowl on Clooney's face throughout the movie.
Fool us once, shame on us. Fool us twice, shame on you, Joel Schumacher.
Val Kilmer – Batman Forever (1995)
Val Kilmer may be the Batman that people forget about, but his costume certainly isn't. The first outfit to assume that Batman puts on his suit bare-chested, Batman Forever's glossy monstrosity looks more like it belongs on the superhero edition of Vogue than in the closet of an inner-city vigilante. Batman is the night, he is vengeance, but he's not a living gargoyle with a six-pack.
Michael Keaton – Batman, Batman Returns (1989-1992)
Decades years later, there's still a lot of nostalgia for Michael Keaton's Batman for plenty of good reasons, namely for its then-revolutionary batsuit. The dark batsuit of Tim Burton's Batman, worked well with the film's gothic aesthetics.
Though it would give birth to the franchise's ensuing trend of plasticky muscle suits, its cape and cowl brilliantly set the mood for all the brooding Batmen who followed. Its cowl didn't allow for a great range of motion, however, and demanded a bit of a stiffer performance from its wearer.
Lego Batman – The Lego Movie (2014)
Lego Batman is, for all intents and purposes, a carbon copy of Michael Keaton's costume. It's dark, it's edgy, it's got molded abs. On top of all that is its free-moving cowl – a big plus if you feel like twisting your head in disgust, as Batman does sometimes.
Adam West – Batman The Movie (1966)
I'll admit that there's a charming simplicity to Adam West's crime fighting costume. Its velvety briefs, its finned gloves, and its bright yellow utility belt all pay testament to the unmistakable cheese of the Silver Age comics as much as the 60's camp that made West's "Light Knight" so beloved.
Less is more as they say, and the '60s batsuit wins out on its humorous intent alone. As Adam West would tell us, though, it's the only costume on this list that was 100 percent real man underneath.
Kevin Conroy – Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Batman The Animated Series is likely the very definition of Batman to '90s kids. Part Adam West, part comic book, and all Batman, Kevin Conroy's Dark Knight Detective exuded the perfect blend of brooding and cartoonish. Less is more seemed to be the philosophy behind The Animated Series' batsuit, a simple, old-fashioned take on the character's Golden-Age look that left Batman using his fists and wits more than gadgets.
Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
In many ways, Ben Affleck's batsuit may be the best compromise of all the batsuits we've seen thus far on the big screen. A rougher take on New 52 and a faithful adaptation of comic artist Frank Miller's more brutish design, the DC cinematic universe's newest Batman embodies all the fantasticality of the comic books with the dark edge of Zack Snyder's films. Part superhero and part soldier, Affleck's design features the wear and tear of a Batman whose seen better days. We can only hope his character matches the suit.
Christian Bale – Batman Begins (2005)
Batman Begins may be the most comprehensive origin story ever told in film and boasts the most grounded batsuit ever conceived. A conglomeration of military technology and Bruce Wayne's own fear, its armor can stop a knife in its tracks and deflect a bullet from anywhere but close-range. Its billowing cape even allows him to glide across Gotham's skies like…well, a bat.
The suit does slow Batman down, however. The design of the mask and cape prohibits head movement, leaving the wearer a little awkward in a fight. Much like its fictional creator, though, Batman Begins' batsuit embodies a taste for the theatrical, looking more like the fearsome specter Batman's meant to be.
Ben Affleck – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Armored)
Batman v Superman will, at its worst, be unlike anything we've seen before from DC the same can be said of its batsuit. Ripped out of the pages of The Dark Knight Returns, Batman's armored suit just screams badass in the way it did in 1986. At its core, it's a statement on the DCEU's new Batman. Ben Affleck's Batman isn't a ninja or a super sleuth – he's a soldier and he's no mortal man. This Batman is a living weapon who knows his last battle will be a fight to the death and he doesn't intend on taking prisoners.
Christian Bale – The Dark Knight, Dark Knight Rises (2008-2012)
Like any great sequel, everything about the The Dark Knight is bigger and better than its predecessor and that includes its batsuit. Its allowed for faster, freer movement, granted Christian Bale much better fight scenes and its new gadgets expanded Batman's arsenal. Night vision, sonar, and phone hacking all made the perfect Batman of the 21st century.