So, I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time. You see, there’s a whole lot of Batman movies out there along with a good number of Batmen. With different actors, playing the same character, in different movie adaptations, there come arguments between fans over the superiority of certain adaptations and portrayals.
In this post, I am going to analyze all the live-action movie Batmen, from Michael Keaton to Ben Affleck, and judge them based on how well they portrayed both Bruce Wayne, and Batman. Before we continue, let’s briefly discuss the two personalities. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire orphan, disciplined and mature for his age. While he may be well known to the world, he can be called reclusive. His dark past is what gives him his wisdom and what gives him the look of a man who has dealt with the truth, up close. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have feelings or a sense of humor. He can be touched, and he ain’t witless.
Batman, Bruce’s vigilante personality, is an all righteous, assertive tough-guy who values human-life above all emotion and justice. His instincts and choices are rarely to be doubted. He is also a quick-witted strategist and a really skilled fighter. Also, he is worthy enough to lift the Mjolnir. He knows the difference between what’s right and what’s (seemingly) needed, and he knows better than to let his emotions drive him. Well, let’s start analysing, shall we?
The star of the 1989 Batman movie’s portrayal of the Batman is one of my favorites. His Bruce Wayne was reclusive and sharp-eyed, but smart and full of emotion. His expressions captured the “I’m wiser than I’m young and I’m not driven by temptation” look really well.
As a Batman, he was shown to be intimidating, calm, and efficient. The very sign of his presence, as shown, would give chills to all but the toughest law-breaker around. His Batmobile is still the most badass one.
The best moment of Keaton’s portrayal was the “You wanna get nuts” scene. In short, Bruce Wayne is at Vicky Vale’s place where the joker makes an entry. Batman could easily have handled the situation, but being Bruce he can’t, so he makes a scene where he grabs a stick, breaks some stuff and shows a bit of temper, allowing himself to be shot, but as he does it, we see not only Bruce’s pretence, but his frustration upon knowing that he needs to be the other guy.
Keaton is also the only actor from his film-series to get more than one Batman movie.
Kilmer’s portrayal of both, the Wayne and the Bat, wasn’t the best. While he had the rich-boy look and grace, he lacked the assertiveness, and while he seemed mature, he didn’t seem as quick-witted and clever. It’s safe to say that he couldn’t entirely pull it off. He didn’t look wise, and occasionally had a look of dottiness about him.
His Batman was better. The win was the voice. While it didn’t sound any different from his Wayne, it suited his Batman well, and wasn’t overdone. The voice alone made him a convincing Batman. The rest is made easier by the covering, so it was all pulled off well. He had the cool, he had the look, but his Batmobile sucked.
George Clooney is a great actor, but Batman and Robin is globally accepted as the most ridiculous Batman movie. His Wayne looked old but wise, sounded weak, but had the “beaten” look.
His Batman was a ridiculous character. Like Kilmer, his voice was better suited to his Batman and was convincing, but sadly, the mask didn’t suit him nearly as well. His character, (not Clooney’s fault,) was a flawed mess, with an air of immaturity and hypocrisy about him.
Bale’s Batman is, so far, my least favorite. The Bat voice was overdone, his Wayne seemed immature. Neither his Bat, not his Bruce was assertive. He looked a mess, which was partly intentional, and that suggests that his character is to blame. While he did uphold his principles, this Batman didn’t have the air of wisdom about him. In short, he seemed like a frustrated guy who made it his duty to help his people simply because they couldn’t help themselves. He took a lot of falls, he was often rather desperate and emotion-driven.
Again, some of that was intentional. He was human after all, and that’s what they meant to show. But the problem is simple: Batman is human. There wasn’t a lot of room for more human elements here. A scene where Superman sniffs Kryptonium and takes a beating is okay, but a scene where Batman gets the hell beaten out of him, or loses his cool, is not okay. Bale’s Batman, however, had a knack for losing it. And while he wasn’t wearing hockey-pads, his suit looked more or less like a military armor with antennae.
The new Batman of the DCEU is, by far, my favorite. He has the Wayne, he has the Bat. His portrayal of Wayne is humorous, quick-witted, sharp-tongued and fairly fleet-footed. His appearance alone is a huge win. Wayne is often shown as a broad-shouldered, square-faced man with a thing for black suits and hair slicked back and expressions that give him a I’m-wiser-than-I’m-old look. Ben Affleck rocks that look. His bat-voice could have been better though.
Ben Affleck’s portrayal is great because his character is great too. Once again, his Batwayne is really Batwayne. His Batman has the wisdom and the cool, and his Wayne has the brains, and he is fairly assertive. One problem, however, is that he does not seem to have a no-killing principle.
It is, however, rather soon to reach a conclusion because, after all, we have only really seen him in action once, but I expect some great Batmovies from him.