Who Played It Best- #1
"Who Played It Best" will be a weekly poll on my blog starting this week. Each Wednesday, I will collect a group of actors, known for playing one particular movie character. You will have the entire week to vote for who you felt played the character the best. I will announce the winner next Wednesday.
Batman is one of the most iconic superheroes ever created. He has created an everlasting legacy in the comics as well as the silverscreen. No matter which director tries to fuck the character up onscreen, Batman has always lived on. I think that shows his popularity, Batman fans will sit through as much torture as needed in order for the right director to come along and get the character right. Batman is a cool and unique character, and no matter what happens, he will live on.
Even though my picture above only shows four actors, Batman has been played by five so far (six pending if you include Ben Affleck. Sense we haven't seen a hint of Affleck's performance yet, I will not judge him yet.) Batman has been played by Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale and Adam West (West made a movie based on his television series in 1966, I have the marvelous blu-ray.) I enjoy the Adam West movie, I enjoyed his series. I have a very special place in my heart for his 1966 film, but I am not sure Mr. West will have a chance against the other four candidates.
My Two Cents:
I predict that the vote will come down to Bale and Keaton. Out of the four actors above, those are the only two actors who successfully captured both Bruce Wayne and Batman on film. Bruce Wayne and Batman are both vital pieces of personality that make Batman work. I feel an actor has to master both personalities to get the character right. The trick is that both of those personalities couldn't be further from each other. Wayne is a billionaire playboy, while the superhero is a brooding hero. Underneath it all, not matter if its Wayne or Batman, the character is incredibly smart but flirting with falling into insanity. Out of the four actors above, its Keaton and Bale who created each part of the personality on film.
Val Kilmer did good, but I've always told my friends and family that Kilmer was a great Batman but a boring Bruce Wayne. George Clooney was a great Bruce Wayne, but a terrible, horrible, poor Batman. (Seriously, when does Batman ever smile?) But Keaton and Bale? Both actors were great at playing Bruce Wayne and they both were great at playing Batman. These were actors who could do both, and they did them well. When I think of Batman, I think of both Keaton and Bale in equal measure. They both create an everlasting memory in my mind.
Out of Keaton and Bale, who do I like more? Well, that's a tough question for me to answer. Tim Burton directed Michael Keaton in "Batman" in 1989 and "Batman Returns" in 1992. While Burton's films were dark, Burton captured the essence of the comic book movie well. He also kept things a little on the goofy side (Who remembers all the Prince music in the 1989 film?). Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale on the other hand, took their trilogy of films in a different direction. Nolan kept his trilogy dark, he kept his trilogy gritty and drenched it in realism. Villains like Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc and Solomon Grundy didn't show up in Nolan's films on purpose, because how can you ground those characters in reality? While Burton and Nolan took their films in very different directions, I feel both Keaton and Bale did exactly what they were told to do. Read enough Batman comics, and you'll notice just how flexible Batman is as a character, which is part of the reason why he's lasted for 75 years.
So who do you think played the character best? To vote, you can send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or simply respond to the blog post in the comment section below. You have until next Wednesday and I will announce the winner then. Happy voting.