If the suit fits! Batman is arguably one of the most iconic superheroes to ever be created, but not all have been lucky enough to strap up as the caped crusader.
George Clooney, Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer are part of a growing list of actors who have stepped into the dual role of billionaire Bruce Wayne/Batman. Lewis Wilson was the first to don the suit for 1943’s Batman, followed by Robert Lowery in The New Adventures of Batman & Robin in 1949. However, of the stars who have been so fortunate, Christian Bale’s performance is among those that have resonated with fans years after his run as the iconic character.
Bale starred as the caped crusader in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” franchise in the late 2000s. The Fighter actor spoke to The Guardian in 2016 about what he believed that he could have done better in the role. “I didn’t quite manage what I hoped I would through the trilogy. [Director] Chris [Nolan] did, but my own sense of self is like, ‘I didn’t quite nail it,’” he explained.
“Batman, he’s this very, very dark, messed-up character,” he continued. “I found when I put on the suit I went, ‘I just feel like a bloody idiot if I don’t use this as a means to [show] his true, monstrous self that he allows to come out in that moment.’”
Ben Affleck succeeded Bale in 2017’s Justice League and 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Neither film was well-received by critics, but the DC Extended Universe installments each earned more than $500 million at the worldwide box office. (Justice League raked in $657.9 million, while Batman v Superman drummed up $873.6 million.)
The Academy Award winner confirmed his departure from the DCEU in January 2019, but his retirement was short-lived. He returned for Justice League reshoots when original director Zack Snyder was granted a chance to debut his intended vision on HBO Max. Zack Snyder’s Justice League debuted in March 2021.
“It was a really nice way to revisit that as the prior experience had been difficult,” Affleck told Variety the following October. “This was really lovely. Really fun.”
The “Batfleck” will return in 2022’s The Flash movie, which will explore the multiverse, allowing other former caped crusaders to be in the same film. Keaton is also set to reprise his role as the Dark Knight in the action movie (as well as in the upcoming Batgirl).
Before the Good Will Hunting actor’s next ride in the Batmobile, however, viewers met yet another version of the tortured billionaire. Warner Bros. announced in May 2019 that Robert Pattinson would be taking over as Batman. In the film directed by Matt Reeves, Zoë Kravitz was also tapped to star as Selina Kyle — a.k.a. Catwoman. (Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Pfeiffer have previously played Selina Kyle/Catwoman.)
“Batman’s not a hero,” Pattinson said in a New York Times profile from October 2019. “He’s a complicated character. I don’t think I could ever play a real hero — there’s always got to be something a little bit wrong. I think it’s because one of my eyes is smaller than the other one.”
Pattinson’s turn as the Dark Knight was slated to hit theaters in June 2021, but production was delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Filming wrapped in March 2021, and The Batman premiered in March 2022.
Scroll down to see the actors that have tackled the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, across film and television, over the years.