Arkham Knight
Arkham Knight

Who are the actors to have played Batman over the years?

Now that Robert Pattinson’s Batman is out, DC fans are revisiting all the previous Batman films and actors who had played the Caped Crusador before

With the new Batman adaptation starring Robert Pattinson out in theatres, DC fans have now reignited the discussion on some of the most memorable Batman characters to ever exist. Here’s a chance for all the hardcore fanatics out there to take a trip down memory lane and revisit your favourite superhero from different eras. We present to you a list of all the actors who played Bruce Wayne over the years:

Lewis Wilson in Batman - 1943 (TV series)

<em>Lewis Wilson as Batman</em>
Lewis Wilson as Batman

Lewis Wilson was the first actor to play the role of Batman at the age of 23. The 1943 Batman was the first ever live action film to be made. People who outgrew their comic books were thrilled to see their favourite superhero come to life on the big screen. It was a hit among the American population and had an impact on several people who were being stationed and enlisted in the American army since it was released during the Second World War, thereby giving them a source of inspiration and hope amid times that were tearing the world apart.

Robert Lowery in Batman and Robin – 1949 (TV series)

<em>Robert Lowrey and the Batman suit from 1949</em>
Robert Lowrey and the Batman suit from 1949

Robert Lowery replaces Lewis Wilson in the second season of the Batman series. This series is also where the Bat’s famous sidekick Robin was introduced. The dynamic duo’s synchronised stunts and detective skills impressed the audience, earning Robin the title of being the best companion any superhero could ever have.

Adam West in Batman – 1966 to 1968 (Film)

<em>Adam West as Batman (colorised)</em>
Adam West as Batman (colorised)

Adam West was the first to portray the Batman character in a motion film. The movie also featured Batgirl and supervillian, the Joker. Other significant villians like the Riddler, and the Penguin, whose intriguing charm and wit resulted in the film becoming a big hit. The movie was also entertaining and turned out to be a novelty for the audience in that era.

Michael Keaton in Batman Returns – 1989 to 1992 (film)

<em>The first well-structured Batman suit</em>
The first well-structured Batman suit

Directed by Tim Burton, this whimsical and mesmerising adaptation, set in a cold, clinical atmosphere, was true to Burton’s filming style. The ominous feel (a Tim Burton signature) and the unpredictability of the movie kept the audience on their toes throughout the film. Michael Keaton’s outfit, body language, physique and the way he expressed emotions through the mask (despite it concealing most of his face) neatly depicted the OG Batman from the comic. This resulted in Keaton leaving a lasting impression as Batman, while he set off the Golden Age of the franchise.

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever – 1995 (film)

<em>Val Kilmer as Batman</em>
Val Kilmer as Batman
<em>Jim Carrey as The Riddler</em>
Jim Carrey as The Riddler

Jim Carrey’s role as the quirky and manic Riddler changed the vibe of this usually sombre story and made it much more enjoyable by adding suspense to the movie. Starring opposite Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader, Carrey ensured that he was unforgettable with his impressive performance on screen. The brain-wracking nature of the antagonist is sure to have us solving his riddles as well.

George Clooney in Batman & Robin – 1997 (film)

<em>George Clooney in a Batsuit </em>
George Clooney in a Batsuit 
<em>Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl</em>
Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl
<em>Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy</em>
Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy
<em>Arnold Schwarzenegger as the sci-fi villian, Mr. Freeze</em>
Arnold Schwarzenegger as the sci-fi villian, Mr. Freeze

This light-hearted and edgy adaptation of the Batman and Robin comic received mixed responses from critics since it had digressed from its usual theme. The movie also fell short on the expectations that an audience usually has for a Batman film since this chapter was mainly about the developing romance between Batman (George Clooney) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone). The film’s cast included Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.

Bruce Thomas in Birds of Prey – 2002 (TV series)

<em>Bruce Thomas' Batman </em>
Bruce Thomas' Batman 

Unlike the previous ‘Batmen’, Bruce Thomas’ Batman did not make an appearance in movies or series, and was exclusive to television commercials between 2002 and 2003. These commercials were shot to promote the 2002 series, Birds of Prey, which had an all-women cast.

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight trilogy – 2005 to 2010

<em>Christian Bale in The Dark Knight trilogy</em>
Christian Bale in The Dark Knight trilogy
<em>Heath Ledger as the Joker</em>
Heath Ledger as the Joker

Christian Bale’s Batman was an instant hit with the audience, fanatics as well as the critics for his intense and multi-faceted showcase of emotions and societal problems. Bale’s Batman set the benchmark for the “cool factor” of the character. His Batman appearances in the trilogy amassed around 200 cores USD at the box office. What’s more, the Aussie sensation, Heath Ledger’s Joker appeared in the second sequel of the trilogy. Christopher Nolan rightfully cast Bale and Ledger together as hero and villain. The duo’s chemistry is considered unmatched to this day by fans and critics alike.

Ben Affleck in Batman V Superman – 2016 to 2019 (film)

<em>Ben affleck as Batman in Justice League</em>
Ben affleck as Batman in Justice League

With Batman and Superman fighting it out to be crowned the most powerful being in the DC universe, this mighty combo doesn’t fall short on its storytelling and action sequences. Ben Affleck impressed the audience, just as much as Christian Bale, despite the bar being up there. He was well received by the crowds for replacing his predecessor.

Kevin Conroy in Batman: The Killing Joke – 2016 (animated film)

<em>Kevin Conroy has been the voice actor for almost all Batman animations</em>
Kevin Conroy has been the voice actor for almost all Batman animations

As the only adult animated film to be featured in the franchise, Batman: The Killing Joke fell flat on highlighting the Joker’s antics effectively. The movie seemed to have presented Batgirl in all the wrong ways since it refrained from discussing what she had been through, instead of using the film to clear up the controversy that readers observed in the comic. What exactly was the controversy? The comic had given an extremely graphic depiction of Joker sexually harassing Batgirl.

More highlights on the franchise:

1) The Dark Knight sequel received the highest number of responses and amassed 158 crores USD at the box office.

2) Ben Affleck was the only actor to wear both the Batman suit and the Superman suit for two different films.

3) The Batman persona was adapted from fictional characters Dracula and Zorro.

4) The role of the Joker had allegedly taken a huge toll on Heath Ledger’s mental and physical health that he ended up turning to illicit drugs for relief.

5) Kevin Conroy has played Batman and as well as a voice actor more than any other person. He’s been Batman in 8 TV series, 13 animated movies, and 10 video games.