The latest game in the Arkham franchise, Gotham Knights, was released on October 21, starring actor Michael Antonakos as Batman. While the game isn’t character-centric, playing the part isn’t something to be taken lightly, as he’s been portrayed by incredible acting talent in both live-action and animation.
Even a small role as a character will give an actor a chance to have their voice heard, so doing the character justice is paramount. On Reddit, Batman fans voted on a list to reach their ranking of the greatest portrayals of Batman of all time.
Val Kilmer – Batman Forever (1995)
With a better movie, Val Kilmer could have made an incredibly strong live-action Batman. In his documentary, Kilmer talks about his experience on Batman Forever and explains why it didn’t turn out the way he had hoped, despite being beyond thrilled to play such a legendary character.
“I think he played Bruce Wayne the best of the live-action movies,” says Redditor JUGG3RN4UT, differentiating between portrayals of Batman and Bruce Wayne. The former was likely plagued with the corny costume and storyline, which made it difficult to take Batman’s portrayal seriously.
Diedrich Bader – Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008)
Following the serious tones of Batman: The Animated Series, Batman: The Brave And The Bold allowed for a more cartoonish approach to the character. This adaptation is more akin to comics and cartoons from the 60s and works as a fun series for kids.
“Brave and the Bold is an amazing show and Bader is the perfect campy Batman,” says Redditor PutItOnthePizza. Campy and comedic approaches can be great for introducing the character to younger audiences, and this series likely carries some nostalgia for Redditors.
Rino Romano – The Batman (2004)
As with The Brave And The Bold, The Batman animated series took a less dark approach to the character, while still providing some style and substance to the adaptation. “It wasn’t dark and brooding like all of its popular iterations,” one Redditor described.
The series offered interesting new designs for many known Batman characters, and later even involved members of the Justice League. Rino Romano’s approach to the character was different, in that he didn’t often address themes of Batman psychology.
Will Arnett – The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
“Lego Batman is a fun movie, but ultimately it’s still kind of a parody movie,” says Redditor Ridley824, explaining much of the reasoning behind the representation poll results.
Will Arnett added an element of comedy needed for a fun, family-friendly film adaptation. While The Lego Batman Movie was a blast, Batman is traditionally a serious character, and serious portrayals will always eclipse goofy ones. Still, for an enjoyable adaptation and satirical take on the comics, Will Arnett was brilliant.
Adam West – Batman (1966)
It is important in adaptations of works of fiction that different approaches are taken. In the ’60s, the darker, darker Batman may not have suited up well, and Adam West filled a needed gap in superhero television.
“Adam West made ‘Funny Batman’ first and best,” says Redditor Ridley824. This era may seem like a joke to some modern fans, but Adam West’s portrayal in ’60s TV series and cartoons has stuck with many Batman fans.
Michael Keaton – Batman (1989)
In many ways, Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns set the tone for how the character should be portrayed in a live-action film and set a gold standard for quality superhero movies. The performance is highly memorable for its cultural impact and features a number of Michael Keaton quotes that solidify him as the best Batman.
“His Batman is too much of a sloppy killer for my tastes,” aptly named fan A_Dog_Chasing_Cars describes of Keaton’s performance. Burton definitely added his own definition to the character, including allowing Batman to kill, at times, much to the dismay of dedicated fans.
Christian Bale – The Dark Knight Trilogy (Various)
For many audiences, Christian Bale played the definitive Batman, as The Dark Knight Trilogy is the most comprehensive and comprehensive story arc the character has seen in film thus far. While his performance might not be considered the best, the movies he’s starred in certainly stand alone in their accomplishments, even having some of Christopher Nolan’s best endings.
“Great Bruce, good movies, but his Batman wasn’t a good Batman,” suggests a Redditor, suggesting that Bale was successful on the Bruce Wayne side of things, but struggled in the real Batsuit. Some fans think Bale’s performance was overshadowed by many of his villains.
Robert Pattinson – The Batman (2022)
“Robert Pattinson, you guys are hands down my favorite live action Batman movie bar none,” offers fan ab316_1punchd. Had the Reddit poll been narrowed down to only live-action Batman depictions, it looks like Pattinson would have taken the gold. Unfortunately for him, fans on Reddit are all over the dub portrayals.
For Pattinson’s sake, it’s made great strides as one of the great adaptations of Batman in a single The Batman movie. If his movies continue to match the quality of the first, he could easily be remembered for having the greatest Batman portrayal of them all. One of the only criticisms of The Batman is that it was a superhero movie that went on too long.
Kevin Conroy – Batman: Arkham Games (Miscellaneous)
The Arkham video game franchise is a definitive portrait for many fans, as its take on Batman is considered one of the most faithful to the comics. Kevin Conroy’s return for this performance sealed the deal for these games to succeed. Kevin Conroy is one of the best performers of any Arkham game, among top talent.
“When I think of Batman, I think of Arkham,” says editor MikeOcksLong_. The game series is incredibly popular, seamlessly blending gameplay with quirky yet thrilling Batman tales. Conroy’s voice narrating throughout the ordeal is a reassuring presence for many Batman lovers.
Kevin Conroy – Batman: The Animated Series / DCAU (1992 – 1995)
Batman: The Animated Series is one of the greatest achievements in superhero entertainment to date. The cartoon defined the character for a generation of audiences, primarily due to Kevin Conroy’s writing and voice work.
For many comic book readers, Kevin Conroy has become the voice of Batman. As Redditor Redichu23 puts it, “The Batman Animated Series is the goat and always will be. In a time when audiences may have been used to the voice of Adam West in Batman cartoons, Kevin Conroy brought out the vengeance and brought out the night. He is Batman.