Who Really Is The Best Batman We Have Ever Had...?
Ever since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was released, the conversation of who the best ever Batman is has been a very hot topic, and a topic that has gone on for a considerable amount of time, seeing as BvS was released over a year ago. With Justice League around the corner, enabling us to see Ben Affleck pop on the cowl for the 2nd time (I’m not counting Suicide Squad), I thought it would be fitting to put my view on who I think is the best Batman to date.
I believe most people will always see Michael Keaton as Batman. Not because he was the best (not in my opinion anyway), but because he was our first real, serious take on the caped crusader. Keaton’s Batman was dark and scary which, at the time, was a revelation for the character, considering it followed straight after Adam West’s Batman, who introduced The Dark Knight as a bit of a joke. I know people remember Adam West’s Batman fondly, but for someone who loves comics and takes them seriously, I do not. What also helped Keaton make his mark on Batman was that he starred alongside Jack Nicholson’s Joker, who was incredible, in turn making the film itself iconic. With a brand new take on Batman, played by an incredible actor in Keaton and a nomination-worthy portrayal of one of the best villains ever by Nicholson, I can see why people think Keaton was the best Batman ever, but for me he is not.
I can’t write this blog without mentioning Val Kilmer and George Clooney, and their poor outings as The Dark Knight. Kilmer and Clooney are great actors, so I do not blame them, I blame the director, Joel Schumacher. Schumacher took what Tim Burton did with Batman, and turned him into a joke. How he was allowed to direct another Batman after Forever I don’t know, but one thing I was thankful of was that with the dramatic failure of Batman & Robin urged Warner Brothers to hit the refresh button on the Caped Crusader and bring my favourite director in, Christopher Nolan...
Batman had been turned into a joke by Schumacher, therefore Nolan decided to go back to basics, and tell us the origin story of Batman, that Bruce Wayne wasn’t just a rich guy wanting to fight crime. Nolan took a very different approach with the World’s Greatest Detective, in that, what would Batman be like if he were real? With this new approach he needed a new Bruce, casting American Psycho’s Christian Bale. Bale is without a doubt my favourite Batman, and is so by a considerable margin. I praise Bale’s Batman, but really I feel that the director should also be mentioned. Together Nolan and Bale created a Batman with real depth, whilst sticking to the core characteristics that we all know and love about The Dark Knight. Over the course of 3 films we learned all there is about Batman, and why he does what he does. When I talk about depth in character, Christian Bale’s Batman was not short of it. A great example of this is when Bruce’s parents die in front of him, and Thomas Wayne whispers with his last breath “Don’t be afraid”. These 3 words, father to son, become the undercurrent for the trilogy, as you see Bruce become more and more fearless to the point where it becomes his downfall in The Dark Knight Rises.
Once Nolan’s epic trilogy came to an end, WB left it a few years before recasting a new Batman, but when they did, it shook the movie world. When the studio announced that they had cast Ben Affleck as Batman, to say that many fans weren’t happy would be an understatement. I will hold my hands up and say that I was one of these people, only because Batman had become very important to me, and Affleck had become a bit of a joke actor. The only thing that kept me somewhat optimistic was that Affleck had not long done Argo, which was critically acclaimed, therefore giving me a glimmer of hope he wouldn’t bring Batman back down to the Shumacher days. When the day came, and Batman v Superman was released, we were introduced to our new Batman, and I was impressed. Some would say Affleck’s Batman saved the film from completely bombing, and I wouldn’t entirely disagree, even though I am one of the seemingly few who liked BvS. Affleck’s Caped Crusader was dark, brutal and a force to be reckoned with, it was as if he was pulled directly from the comic book pages themselves, but these are just all aesthetics, a pleasure for the eyes. When it comes to discussing a character, there is so much more than just what you see, which is why for me Affleck’s Batman is not the best we’ve had. He has a long way to go before he will be on Bale’s level, and that fact people think he is, really shows me that they didn’t understand the Batman Christopher Nolan gave us. Affleck’s Batman skims the surface when it comes to depth, and, sure, we may get to know more about him in the coming films, but as it stands, this portrayal of the character is not the best Batman we have ever had.
Batman is one of the most iconic characters in history, and has been portrayed incredibly by some world class actors. The Dark Knight is my favourite film of all time, therefore I struggle to see anyone knocking Bale off the top spot, but I am certainly open to it happening, because if they can do that, I could potentially have a new favourite film. Only time will tell...