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Face-Off: Batman - Michael Keaton vs. Christian Bale

Jul. 18, 2013by: Mathew Plale
Last week, you chose the Pale Man over the pale child, as fantasy PANS LABYRINTH won out over ghost story THE DEVILS BACKBONE in the showdown to see which of Guillermo Del Toros most praised Spanish-language films was tops.

This week, FACE-OFF pits the two best Batmen ever against each other in which only one will rule Gotham (and this column): Val Kilmer and George Clooney! No. Lets go with Michael Keaton and Christian Bale, whose turns as Batman have collectively earned close to $1.4 billion domestically.

Presence
The key to Bruce Wayne/Batmans existence is balancing two lives, and so the key to a great performance of Wayne/Batman is balancing both aspects. Keaton, who was most famous at that point as a bio-exorcist, has more charisma than any other Batman on film or television and carried himself well in the costume. But Keaton did not make a great Bruce Waynenot only because he doesnt have the look or charm of a playboy, but he played him, at times, as completely unstable. Case in point: Wanna get nuts?!
Whereas Keaton made a better superhero than billionaire, Christian Bale proves a better enterpriser than Caped Crusader. Bale, unlike Keaton, has the sexiness that goes along with stacks of million-dollar bills, and we believe that he is worthy of Gothams prettiest women. But his take on Batman left a lot to be desired. First, there is the stiffness and inflexibility in how he presents himself, which was such a burden that the costume had to be adjusted as the series continued. But the biggest problem with Bales Batman is the voice, which sounds like hes swallowed a fistful of gravel and makes it nearly impossible to understand a thing he says. Neither actor could find a perfect balance, but because Keaton was a better Batman (and the movies arent called BRUCE WAYNE), Im giving him the slight edge.
Motivation
In the opening scene, young Bruce Wayne watches his parents get killed outside of a theater. A turn of events makes the killer not Joe Chill, but Jack Napier, who transforms into The Joker, the primary villain, thus making the act really the backbone of the first BATMAN movie. Its not until BATMAN RETURNS that Batman is entirely determined to save Gotham City. While revenge is always a fine motivator for any superhero, its putting the needs of many over the needs of oneself that makes for a more admirable hero.
While Bales Batman also witnessed his parents murders, his revenge was squashed when one of Carmine Falcones men had the killer offed early on. In Christopher Nolans trilogy, Batman is more about the greater good and genuinely bent on saving the city he loves from the likes of Scarecrow, The Joker and Bane.
Fights/Villain Defense
During Tim Burtons BATMAN entries, the Caped Crusader dukes it out with The Joker, Penguin and Catwoman, three rogues gallery favorites. And thats pretty much what it comes down to: fists and kicks. The set pieces (the clock tower, Penguins lair) are extraordinary and Keaton handles the action well, but there really isnt a lot here that fans couldnt easily perform with action figures.
This Batman has greater challenges, as he not only had to battle seemingly indestructible terrorists like Bane, but also had to engage in head games with The Joker. While there were numerous fisticuffs (with a touch of martial arts), Bales Batman had to race against the clock at nearly every turn while trying to outsmart that demented future Arkham Asylum patient, which is far more compelling than tossing Catwoman into a truck of kitty litter.
Suit
On Keatons costume, the gold utility belt and yellow logo are prominent features, which stick with the classic look. Theres also the point that his suit actually resembles a bat, which makes him more sinister to criminals. His suit is also easily penetrable by bullets and cat claws, which may seem like a flaw but actually makes it seem like it was constructed by a human and not a tech-savvy sidekick.
On Bales get-up, the symbol is so dark its hard to even notice. This goes with the Dark Knight scheme, but quickly removes it from tradition (as the trilogy progressed, the cape felt less like wings). This costume is also military-grade and high-tech, serving more like armor than disguise, and giving Batman a degree of invincibility through electric current and sonar capabilities (something first seen in, of all movies, BATMAN FOREVER). All of this adds up to making him seem less skilled than geeky and rich.
Toys
The popular mode of transportation, the Batmobile, is Batmans best toy here. Its sleek and uncomplicated, but with enough upgrades and power to zoom through alleyways and dodge certain doom. Batmans utility belt holds other items like the batarang, grapple gun, two-way communicator, and bola, all of which are effective on his enemies without going too over-the-top.
As was the case with this Batmans suit, his toys rely heavily on being invincibility machines, here resembling armored vehicles. The Batmobile itself is never mentioned and is essentially replaced by the tank-like Tumbler and the Batpod, which its hard to deny is fun to watch weave in and out of Gotham streets and tunnels. Other gadgets in his arsenal include some of the aforementioned devices, although each has been upgraded for the 21st-century (the communicator has been updated into a cell phone, complete with Snake). All of these high-tech gizmos are cool in design, but they point out the masked man is a billionaire, a trait that should narrow down his identity quite a bit for the people of Gotham.
Keaton's Batman
THE DARK KNIGHT may rank as Movie Fan Centrals third best movie of all-time, but in this battle of the Batmen, Michael Keaton trumps Christian Bale. By donning a costume thats more intimidating than tech-ridden, toys that get the job done without breaking the bank and simply carrying the Batman character with a charismatic presence that has yet to be touched, Keaton has proven to be the quintessential Caped Crusader.

If you have suggestions for an upcoming Face-Off column, shoot me an e-mail at mathewplale@joblo.com!

Who wore it better? Keaton or Bale?
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7:08PM on 07/21/2013
It's all about The Kilm. Although the movie sucked, he was a decent Bruce Wayne/Batman. Better than Clooney, but that's not saying much at all. Keaton was great as Batman, but I'll give the edge to Bale. And Bale was good, he owned the role, but that voice for when he's Bats. I cringe every time I hear the line, "I'm not wearing hockey pants," or "WHERE IS IT?! WHERE IS IT?! YOU'D NEVER GIVE THE TRIGGER TO AN ORDINARY CITIZEN! WHERE IS IT?!?!" Ugh...
It's all about The Kilm. Although the movie sucked, he was a decent Bruce Wayne/Batman. Better than Clooney, but that's not saying much at all. Keaton was great as Batman, but I'll give the edge to Bale. And Bale was good, he owned the role, but that voice for when he's Bats. I cringe every time I hear the line, "I'm not wearing hockey pants," or "WHERE IS IT?! WHERE IS IT?! YOU'D NEVER GIVE THE TRIGGER TO AN ORDINARY CITIZEN! WHERE IS IT?!?!" Ugh...
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4:25PM on 07/19/2013

Bale easily beats Keaton

I like most Batman fans couldn't disagree more. Im 28 and I watched batman 89 and returns religiously as a kid and loved them. My biggest gripe with them however was keaton as Batman. He came across boring, wimpy, and phony. I never believed that short, scared, skinny 40 something year old could kick anyones ass. Like I said no charasma, too skinny, short, wore glasses, and killed people. Burton made bruce wayne a bumbling shy and awkward loser. Keaton seemed more clark kent than bruce wayne.
I like most Batman fans couldn't disagree more. Im 28 and I watched batman 89 and returns religiously as a kid and loved them. My biggest gripe with them however was keaton as Batman. He came across boring, wimpy, and phony. I never believed that short, scared, skinny 40 something year old could kick anyones ass. Like I said no charasma, too skinny, short, wore glasses, and killed people. Burton made bruce wayne a bumbling shy and awkward loser. Keaton seemed more clark kent than bruce wayne. Also people only saw those movies for the villains as they took up all the screentime. Batman/bruce wayne was a cameo/ supporting character in a stiff suit at best. He lacked the look, the acting chops, the dedication, the skill, and everything Christian Bale brought to the role. When I saw Batman Begins in theaters I was blown away and thrilled at not only how right they got the characters but also how great the film itself actually was. A real serious, dark and inspiring film, not a campy childrens movie.
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3:40PM on 07/19/2013

Keaton

Bale was perfect in every way as Batman/Bruce Wayne, except for one important hurdle that he never got over--something Keaton had perfected, straight out of the gate: the (Batman) voice.
Bale was perfect in every way as Batman/Bruce Wayne, except for one important hurdle that he never got over--something Keaton had perfected, straight out of the gate: the (Batman) voice.
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-1
3:24PM on 07/19/2013

Bale

How is their not a category to celebrate Bale's brilliant GROWL. Surely that wins it for him alone.
How is their not a category to celebrate Bale's brilliant GROWL. Surely that wins it for him alone.
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5:08AM on 07/19/2013

Keaton fo sho

As good as the Nolan movies are, it's really the villains that I watch them for. Bale's Batman makes me cringe every single time he speaks and it makes his Batman my least favorite part of the movies. Keaton's Bats was scary and dark, plus he had the complete look and mannerisms locked down. His Batman Returns suit (pictured) is my favorite live-action take of all time. While the Nolan films may have better production value and be seen at as more "art" than the 2 Burton entries, Keaton's Batman
As good as the Nolan movies are, it's really the villains that I watch them for. Bale's Batman makes me cringe every single time he speaks and it makes his Batman my least favorite part of the movies. Keaton's Bats was scary and dark, plus he had the complete look and mannerisms locked down. His Batman Returns suit (pictured) is my favorite live-action take of all time. While the Nolan films may have better production value and be seen at as more "art" than the 2 Burton entries, Keaton's Batman will always be "my" Batman.
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+12
12:43AM on 07/19/2013
Keaton, though he wasn't great. Bale was just awful in the role. How anyone can accept that ridiculous voice is just a testament to how popularity can seriously influence people's judgement. There are people on IMDB who are seriously starting a religion based on Nolan's teachings in his films.
Keaton, though he wasn't great. Bale was just awful in the role. How anyone can accept that ridiculous voice is just a testament to how popularity can seriously influence people's judgement. There are people on IMDB who are seriously starting a religion based on Nolan's teachings in his films.
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12:49AM on 07/19/2013
Yeah the voice was a friggin joke, it was the villains that made those movies as good as they were, the first two anyway, Rises didn't even have that going for it with the auto-tuned Sean Connery Bane comedy.
Yeah the voice was a friggin joke, it was the villains that made those movies as good as they were, the first two anyway, Rises didn't even have that going for it with the auto-tuned Sean Connery Bane comedy.
-6
12:41AM on 07/19/2013

Nothing against Keaton

But Bale will always be Bruce Wayne/Batman to me
But Bale will always be Bruce Wayne/Batman to me
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10:44PM on 07/18/2013

Bale is Batman...

He was also the perfect Bruce wayne...
He was also the perfect Bruce wayne...
Your Reply:



10:01PM on 07/18/2013

Keaton

It's a nobrainer. Keaton is to Batman as Connery is to Bond. Others may do well with the role but Keaton will always be Batman.
It's a nobrainer. Keaton is to Batman as Connery is to Bond. Others may do well with the role but Keaton will always be Batman.
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9:57PM on 07/18/2013

it was the nostalgiA that killed the Bat

bale man...
bale man...
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+3
9:42PM on 07/18/2013
Which Nolan Trilogy was great that doesnt mean that his Batman was great, i still enjoy Keatons Batman, he is a detective (jokers productos and chemical alley), he is a martial arts (fight again that guy with blades), he is coolblooded (jokers meets at vicky apartment and how he appaer to final fight with joker) , and of course his Bruces way he acts and looks in manor waynes party.
Which Nolan Trilogy was great that doesnt mean that his Batman was great, i still enjoy Keatons Batman, he is a detective (jokers productos and chemical alley), he is a martial arts (fight again that guy with blades), he is coolblooded (jokers meets at vicky apartment and how he appaer to final fight with joker) , and of course his Bruces way he acts and looks in manor waynes party.
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+7
9:30PM on 07/18/2013

Smart choice

Keaton will always stand as my major point of comparison with each and every reiteration of the cape and cowl. I love Bale too, but we're talking about my heart here, and it belongs to Keaton's Batman.
Keaton will always stand as my major point of comparison with each and every reiteration of the cape and cowl. I love Bale too, but we're talking about my heart here, and it belongs to Keaton's Batman.
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9:29PM on 07/18/2013
Neither were perfect as their roles,
Problem is, neither of them were interpreted as the Batman from today comics, they were more like new versions of the same characters, the same as the Jokes with Nichelson and Ledger and other characters. Stay faithful from the source as much as you can, and you'll get more actors doing near perfect roles.
Neither were perfect as their roles,
Problem is, neither of them were interpreted as the Batman from today comics, they were more like new versions of the same characters, the same as the Jokes with Nichelson and Ledger and other characters. Stay faithful from the source as much as you can, and you'll get more actors doing near perfect roles.
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9:27PM on 07/18/2013

Keaton

No question, Bale is a much better Bruce Wayne but an awful Batman
No question, Bale is a much better Bruce Wayne but an awful Batman
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-4
8:39PM on 07/18/2013

Keaton? Really?

I never thought Joblo.com would ever do this, but I guess their going through their "Its cool to hate Chris Nolan" Phase. Bale's batman was clearly better, anybody who thinks differently is blind
I never thought Joblo.com would ever do this, but I guess their going through their "Its cool to hate Chris Nolan" Phase. Bale's batman was clearly better, anybody who thinks differently is blind
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10:24PM on 07/18/2013
You are the worst.
You are the worst.
7:23PM on 07/18/2013

Bale, but

I was just 13 when Bateman came out and Michael Keaton grew up in our area, was already a star, so there was big time rooting for him. He brought a charisma and wry bit of humor to the role. However, I have been watching Bale since Empire of the Sun and when he became Barman I was blown away by the character. I liked the serious, reality driven tone. So Bale for me but Keaton was my childhood Batman.
I was just 13 when Bateman came out and Michael Keaton grew up in our area, was already a star, so there was big time rooting for him. He brought a charisma and wry bit of humor to the role. However, I have been watching Bale since Empire of the Sun and when he became Barman I was blown away by the character. I liked the serious, reality driven tone. So Bale for me but Keaton was my childhood Batman.
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11:24PM on 07/18/2013
Apologies for my typos. I was doing this from my Android. Damn autospell...
Apologies for my typos. I was doing this from my Android. Damn autospell...
-3
7:08PM on 07/18/2013

Bale

Best bat ever
Best bat ever
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6:22PM on 07/18/2013

Bale all the way

He is easily the best on screen Batman and sue me I pick Val Kilmer as a close second. Both portray the gritty dark side and do the billionaire side justice.
He is easily the best on screen Batman and sue me I pick Val Kilmer as a close second. Both portray the gritty dark side and do the billionaire side justice.
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8:55PM on 07/18/2013
I think if Val Kilmer was in a better Batman movie, we'd be singing his praises much higher today...
I think if Val Kilmer was in a better Batman movie, we'd be singing his praises much higher today...
+8
6:18PM on 07/18/2013

Tough, but Bale is superior

I love Keaton as an actor and have a special place in my heart for him as Batman, but Bale is superior in most ways. Just based on physical appearance alone Bale is the better Batman. I did feel Keaton had the more emotional eyes and mysterious presence and although I never had a problem with the Bale bat voice, I did prefer Keaton's. As a total package though it is hands down Bale. His Bruce Wayne is a 100x better and more accurate and I love the way he played the character with 3 different
I love Keaton as an actor and have a special place in my heart for him as Batman, but Bale is superior in most ways. Just based on physical appearance alone Bale is the better Batman. I did feel Keaton had the more emotional eyes and mysterious presence and although I never had a problem with the Bale bat voice, I did prefer Keaton's. As a total package though it is hands down Bale. His Bruce Wayne is a 100x better and more accurate and I love the way he played the character with 3 different personalities, as it should have always been. Bale is a well built and physical guy. A must for Batman.
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+34
5:45PM on 07/18/2013

Love this part:

"His suit is also easily penetrable by bullets and cat claws" - Umm, no it wasn't. Catwoman got him in the lower abdomen where he wasn't very armored, but he's shot at with bullets multiple times in the movies and isn't killed. Again, this reads like someone who barely watched the movies.
"His suit is also easily penetrable by bullets and cat claws" - Umm, no it wasn't. Catwoman got him in the lower abdomen where he wasn't very armored, but he's shot at with bullets multiple times in the movies and isn't killed. Again, this reads like someone who barely watched the movies.
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4:23PM on 07/18/2013

Hahaha....right!

How stupid. Bales Batman beats Keaton's Batman in a fight any day.
How stupid. Bales Batman beats Keaton's Batman in a fight any day.
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-13
4:16PM on 07/18/2013

Keaton was a far superior batman than Bale

And i also liked his bruce wayne, he played two different persons perfectly, a little bit like clark kent and superman so that no one would ever suspect they are superheros.
In burtons batman people actually feared batman because they didnt know if he was a man or some beast, Nolan never captured that feeling because everybody just knew it was a man in a high tech suit.
Keatons suit, voice, batmobile and other tech stuff were also a lot better. Would love to see a batman movie again with
And i also liked his bruce wayne, he played two different persons perfectly, a little bit like clark kent and superman so that no one would ever suspect they are superheros.
In burtons batman people actually feared batman because they didnt know if he was a man or some beast, Nolan never captured that feeling because everybody just knew it was a man in a high tech suit.
Keatons suit, voice, batmobile and other tech stuff were also a lot better. Would love to see a batman movie again with keaton as an older batman.
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4:07PM on 07/18/2013

Chill out.

I love how Nolan fans are freaking out about this in the comments and majorly down voting anyone that says they "agree". It's very cult-ish, if you ask me, which I sadly always found a lot of the fans of these films to be, especially after "The Dark Knight". Out of pure love for Batman, from the comics to the 60's show, to animated series to the films, I have to agree as well that Keaton played Batman more in line with how he's usually portrayed. Sorry, but that's how I feel, and it has nothing
I love how Nolan fans are freaking out about this in the comments and majorly down voting anyone that says they "agree". It's very cult-ish, if you ask me, which I sadly always found a lot of the fans of these films to be, especially after "The Dark Knight". Out of pure love for Batman, from the comics to the 60's show, to animated series to the films, I have to agree as well that Keaton played Batman more in line with how he's usually portrayed. Sorry, but that's how I feel, and it has nothing to do with nostalgia.
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11:17PM on 07/18/2013
Here's the problem with that, Shawn. If you're using a lack of accuracy to the comic as your complaint with "Batman" (1989), then aren't you being hypocritical for ignoring all the changes made for the Nolan films? Of which there are many. When it comes to tone, stage presence, costume, aura, delivery of lines, etc, Keaton was more "Batman-like" than Bale. He almost brought an entire atmosphere, and you could see that with the header image on this article alone.
Here's the problem with that, Shawn. If you're using a lack of accuracy to the comic as your complaint with "Batman" (1989), then aren't you being hypocritical for ignoring all the changes made for the Nolan films? Of which there are many. When it comes to tone, stage presence, costume, aura, delivery of lines, etc, Keaton was more "Batman-like" than Bale. He almost brought an entire atmosphere, and you could see that with the header image on this article alone.
8:54PM on 07/18/2013
So according to your assessment, in the comics Batman wouldn't fire Alfred for letting random people walk around in the batcave? Even Bob Kane had a problem with that, and he wrote the damn thing...
So according to your assessment, in the comics Batman wouldn't fire Alfred for letting random people walk around in the batcave? Even Bob Kane had a problem with that, and he wrote the damn thing...
3:56PM on 07/18/2013

Agreed.

I love Nolans take but the first Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movie was the best. Michael Keaton was the better Batman and better Bruce Wayne. He was the closest to the comics out of anyone. Everyone else was either a good Bruce and a bad Batman or a Good Batman and a Bad Bruce.
I love Nolans take but the first Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman movie was the best. Michael Keaton was the better Batman and better Bruce Wayne. He was the closest to the comics out of anyone. Everyone else was either a good Bruce and a bad Batman or a Good Batman and a Bad Bruce.
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3:48PM on 07/18/2013
I dig Keaton as Batman and think he's a very talented actor and brought a great amount of intensity to the role. But giving him the edge in presence!??!?! He did not have the physicality height-wise or muscle-wise to intimate the scum of Gotham. In fact he had so little screen presence that the Joker and the Penguin were clearly the stars of his movies and Batman himself was supporting character in his own movie.
I dig Keaton as Batman and think he's a very talented actor and brought a great amount of intensity to the role. But giving him the edge in presence!??!?! He did not have the physicality height-wise or muscle-wise to intimate the scum of Gotham. In fact he had so little screen presence that the Joker and the Penguin were clearly the stars of his movies and Batman himself was supporting character in his own movie.
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4:13PM on 07/18/2013
Stage presence. Charisma. You could feel it when he was on screen. Not how tall or muscular he was.
Stage presence. Charisma. You could feel it when he was on screen. Not how tall or muscular he was.
3:07PM on 07/18/2013

Keaton

"You ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight" , classic, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin was also tops.
If that wasn't enough, you also have Pee Wee Herman tossing a baby into a river.
"You ever dance with the devil by the pale moonlight" , classic, and Danny DeVito as the Penguin was also tops.
If that wasn't enough, you also have Pee Wee Herman tossing a baby into a river.
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2:04PM on 07/18/2013
Keaton doesn't hold a candle. bale did a much better job
Keaton doesn't hold a candle. bale did a much better job
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12:45PM on 07/18/2013

Except clooney,like 'em all

Keaton > val kilmer > bale (not a big fan of his batman voice and lisp)
Keaton > val kilmer > bale (not a big fan of his batman voice and lisp)
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8:53PM on 07/18/2013
except he didn't have a lisp, and he changed his voice because he didn't want anyone to i.d. something burton forgot to do...
except he didn't have a lisp, and he changed his voice because he didn't want anyone to i.d. something burton forgot to do...
12:16PM on 07/18/2013

No contest, Keaton all the way.

Bale's Batman is the only thing about Nolan's terrific films (the first two) that I didn't care for. As long as Bale's Batman stays silent I'm happy, but as soon as he starts to talk I have to seriously fight the urge to laugh. That voice is just, yikes. To this day I still can't believe that was actually allowed to happen.
Bale's Batman is the only thing about Nolan's terrific films (the first two) that I didn't care for. As long as Bale's Batman stays silent I'm happy, but as soon as he starts to talk I have to seriously fight the urge to laugh. That voice is just, yikes. To this day I still can't believe that was actually allowed to happen.
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12:12PM on 07/18/2013
Keaton had that face, that looked so frightening when he's staring you down. The scariest shot of him was when Joker said to him, "Nice outfit." Keaton made a face after it, and it was frighteningly beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I also love Bale's version as well, but Keaton's voice was silent and smooth.
Keaton had that face, that looked so frightening when he's staring you down. The scariest shot of him was when Joker said to him, "Nice outfit." Keaton made a face after it, and it was frighteningly beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I also love Bale's version as well, but Keaton's voice was silent and smooth.
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12:07PM on 07/18/2013
Tough call, each has his faults and virtues, I still think the definitive Batman has yet to be found.
Tough call, each has his faults and virtues, I still think the definitive Batman has yet to be found.
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-8
12:00PM on 07/18/2013
Keaton will always be the the best Batman. Maybe a lot of it has to do with my age but he was much more fun to watch. I just cant help but laugh every time I hear that ridiculous growl Bale talks in. Plus I like Keaton's suit better.
Keaton will always be the the best Batman. Maybe a lot of it has to do with my age but he was much more fun to watch. I just cant help but laugh every time I hear that ridiculous growl Bale talks in. Plus I like Keaton's suit better.
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11:59AM on 07/18/2013

I love Keaton

But I completely disagree (except maybe in presence). And this is coming from someone that pretty much hated TDKR (although to be fair I also hated Batman Returns).
But I completely disagree (except maybe in presence). And this is coming from someone that pretty much hated TDKR (although to be fair I also hated Batman Returns).
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11:43AM on 07/18/2013
One aspect that's not mentionned, and I'm really surprised it wasn't even mentionned in the suit section, was the legendary stiffness of Keaton's suit. The technology wasn't there to give him any sort of movement on his neck and the obvious discomfort of it is particularly problematic because there is no reason for Bruce Wayne to wear a cowl other than esthetics.

I think that Michael Keaton was a very underrated actor in his prime but he didn't have the right tools to truly compete with
One aspect that's not mentionned, and I'm really surprised it wasn't even mentionned in the suit section, was the legendary stiffness of Keaton's suit. The technology wasn't there to give him any sort of movement on his neck and the obvious discomfort of it is particularly problematic because there is no reason for Bruce Wayne to wear a cowl other than esthetics.

I think that Michael Keaton was a very underrated actor in his prime but he didn't have the right tools to truly compete with Christian Bale.
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-17
11:43AM on 07/18/2013

really

i thought comedian Pete Holmes was the greatest Batman...
[link]
i thought comedian Pete Holmes was the greatest Batman...
[link]
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10:52AM on 07/18/2013

Batman Returns

Returns is still, in my opinion, the BEST Batman movie ever madeit has the perfect combo of comic book & real world. I love the Nolan films but they are heavily restrained, part of what makes Batman, well... Batman, is the zaniness. Plus Keaton came first, Keaton was the 1st time we saw Batman on screen(Adam West in tights doesn't count). Seeing the batmobile, the gadgets, the villains & batman himself on screen for the 1st time is an experience that can't be overlooked. Toby Maguire is the
Returns is still, in my opinion, the BEST Batman movie ever madeit has the perfect combo of comic book & real world. I love the Nolan films but they are heavily restrained, part of what makes Batman, well... Batman, is the zaniness. Plus Keaton came first, Keaton was the 1st time we saw Batman on screen(Adam West in tights doesn't count). Seeing the batmobile, the gadgets, the villains & batman himself on screen for the 1st time is an experience that can't be overlooked. Toby Maguire is the best Spider-Man based on this argument too, nothing can compare to seeing the character fully realized after spending years upon years imagining what something like a Spider-Man or Batman movie might look like. I was 9 when the Keaton/Burton film came out and it blew me away, I watched it again last summer and it still holds up.
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3:22PM on 07/18/2013
Zaniness?? Batman is "Zany"? You have never read a comic in your life have you because the very last thing anyone would call Batman is zany.....unless you are talking about Adam West.
Zaniness?? Batman is "Zany"? You have never read a comic in your life have you because the very last thing anyone would call Batman is zany.....unless you are talking about Adam West.
11:04AM on 07/18/2013
Batman Returns is actually one of the worst Batman films ever made. Not nearly as bad as Batman & Robin but still very bad. The characters were written horribly and nowhere near what they were in the comics. Look at the Penguin for example. Burton made him into an actual Penguin.
Batman Returns is actually one of the worst Batman films ever made. Not nearly as bad as Batman & Robin but still very bad. The characters were written horribly and nowhere near what they were in the comics. Look at the Penguin for example. Burton made him into an actual Penguin.
10:55AM on 07/18/2013
Plus, and correct me if I'm wrong... but the scenes in the new ones when Bale uses "Batman voice" when no one else is around are pretty ridiculous, and basically comical. If memory serves me correctly there is a scene or two in the Keaton movies where the same kind of thing happens, but Keaton speaks in his "regular" voice when talking to himself, not the fake raspy gravelly smoker's voice
Plus, and correct me if I'm wrong... but the scenes in the new ones when Bale uses "Batman voice" when no one else is around are pretty ridiculous, and basically comical. If memory serves me correctly there is a scene or two in the Keaton movies where the same kind of thing happens, but Keaton speaks in his "regular" voice when talking to himself, not the fake raspy gravelly smoker's voice
10:45AM on 07/18/2013

I Agree

Bale is a more believable playboy scion, but Nolan's version of Wayne, coupled with his seeming refusal to pace a scene normally or not weigh down his movies with overbearing, overly dramatic score, prevented me from ever feeling like Bruce Wayne was more than a thin caricature of a Jesus-lite saint. Furthermore, his motivations over the sinful ways of Gotham felt like a massive stretch that, despite being one of Nolan's key points, was never convincingly portrayed for me.

Burton's Batman
Bale is a more believable playboy scion, but Nolan's version of Wayne, coupled with his seeming refusal to pace a scene normally or not weigh down his movies with overbearing, overly dramatic score, prevented me from ever feeling like Bruce Wayne was more than a thin caricature of a Jesus-lite saint. Furthermore, his motivations over the sinful ways of Gotham felt like a massive stretch that, despite being one of Nolan's key points, was never convincingly portrayed for me.

Burton's Batman films felt more cohesive. Keaton's Wayne, while maybe a little too puny to be believable as an ass kicker, still felt like a well-rounded human being with interests beyond his crusading in a cape. Also, the city looked the same in both Burton films, creating a far more cohesive "part 1/part 2" vibe, compared to the 3 Nolan films, where it's clearly a different city/set every single movie.

And yes, Keaton's bat voice blows Bale's out of the water.
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+28
10:40AM on 07/18/2013

Bale

Gonna have to disagree and go with Bale--however, Michael Keaton was awesome and was a very close second. I just think Bale's performance overall was better.
Gonna have to disagree and go with Bale--however, Michael Keaton was awesome and was a very close second. I just think Bale's performance overall was better.
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10:27AM on 07/18/2013
dude what? maybe i'm biased b/c i'm a product of my times and my batman. but i've seen keaton's bat and this is a no-brainer. Bale's batman is superior.
dude what? maybe i'm biased b/c i'm a product of my times and my batman. but i've seen keaton's bat and this is a no-brainer. Bale's batman is superior.
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+29
10:22AM on 07/18/2013
I vehemently disagree with this one.
I vehemently disagree with this one.
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10:15AM on 07/18/2013

Keaton

Agreed.
Agreed.
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9:53AM on 07/18/2013

Team Keaton

Haha hell yeah... Keaton, baby!!
Haha hell yeah... Keaton, baby!!
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9:32AM on 07/18/2013
It's probably Keaton as Batman but Bale as Bruce Wayne, and Bale on the whole. Keaton's Bruce was more reclusive, awkward and less suave, and needed to use the Batsuit to conceal his slight frame. I guess that works because nobody would ever suspect him of being Batman, while they might suspect Bale's version of Bruce Wayne. But I think that on the whole, it seems Bale was more dedicated to the character, and the scenes of him training with the League of Shadows in Batman Begins were great. To
It's probably Keaton as Batman but Bale as Bruce Wayne, and Bale on the whole. Keaton's Bruce was more reclusive, awkward and less suave, and needed to use the Batsuit to conceal his slight frame. I guess that works because nobody would ever suspect him of being Batman, while they might suspect Bale's version of Bruce Wayne. But I think that on the whole, it seems Bale was more dedicated to the character, and the scenes of him training with the League of Shadows in Batman Begins were great. To Keaton's credit though, everyone was up in arms when it was announced that Mr Mom had been cast as Batman, but he really shut the detractors up and did very well.
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9:04AM on 07/18/2013

keaton

Keaton for the win, grew up watching his batman films along with the animated series. Not that bale is a bad batman or Wayne. It was keaton as batman that first got me into batman as a kid.
Keaton for the win, grew up watching his batman films along with the animated series. Not that bale is a bad batman or Wayne. It was keaton as batman that first got me into batman as a kid.
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8:57AM on 07/18/2013

Michael Keaton all the way!!!

Keaton has and always will be my favorite Batman. He was such an inspired choice at the time and owned the role completely. And the fact that his films actually felt like you were in a Batman/comic book film. And the fact that I loved the design of Gotham City in Batman and Batman Returns.

Keaton also had the more iconic suit with the black and yellow Bat emblem. Keaton will always be the best Batman no matter who they cast after him.
Keaton has and always will be my favorite Batman. He was such an inspired choice at the time and owned the role completely. And the fact that his films actually felt like you were in a Batman/comic book film. And the fact that I loved the design of Gotham City in Batman and Batman Returns.

Keaton also had the more iconic suit with the black and yellow Bat emblem. Keaton will always be the best Batman no matter who they cast after him.
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+36
8:50AM on 07/18/2013

Bale

I can definitely see a generational thing going on here, I guess if you were a kid when those movies came out, you could have a soft spot for Keaton. I loved the 1st film, saw it 10 times at the theater but when B:TAS came out I thought the show was way better than the films. Keaton was Tim Burton's version of Batman....you could tell he never read a comic. When Begins came out, I walked out going "Finally someone got it right!!!"
I can definitely see a generational thing going on here, I guess if you were a kid when those movies came out, you could have a soft spot for Keaton. I loved the 1st film, saw it 10 times at the theater but when B:TAS came out I thought the show was way better than the films. Keaton was Tim Burton's version of Batman....you could tell he never read a comic. When Begins came out, I walked out going "Finally someone got it right!!!"
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8:29AM on 07/18/2013

Absolutely love Bale, but couldn't agree more on this!

Yes the Nolan films are the better films if you dissect them(character development etc.), but pure from a gut feeling I will always enjoy Burton's Batman way more than Nolan's films. Christian Bale is a fantastic actor but his Batman doesn't have a patch on Keaton's. Like I said before I don't mean to slam Bale, I'm pretty sure Keaton wouldn't have been as good as Bale in the Fighter, for which Bale received a well deserved Oscar. But some parts just suit certain people better.
Yes the Nolan films are the better films if you dissect them(character development etc.), but pure from a gut feeling I will always enjoy Burton's Batman way more than Nolan's films. Christian Bale is a fantastic actor but his Batman doesn't have a patch on Keaton's. Like I said before I don't mean to slam Bale, I'm pretty sure Keaton wouldn't have been as good as Bale in the Fighter, for which Bale received a well deserved Oscar. But some parts just suit certain people better.
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8:19AM on 07/18/2013
Completely Agree. Keaton knocked it out of the park. Bale's silly cartoonish voice is VERY hard to take seriously.
Completely Agree. Keaton knocked it out of the park. Bale's silly cartoonish voice is VERY hard to take seriously.
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+2
7:47AM on 07/18/2013
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11:01AM on 07/18/2013
Ladies & Gentlemen of the jury, as the evidence suggests, case closed!
Ladies & Gentlemen of the jury, as the evidence suggests, case closed!
-12
7:17AM on 07/18/2013

Purely done for shock value

If you really think Keaton's rubber suit is better than any one of Bale's slim metallic suits, you're insane. If you think Keaton's almost mute Bruce Wayne is better than Bale's playboy, you're insane. Also, Keaton is incredibly short, talk about presence of Batman.
If you really think Keaton's rubber suit is better than any one of Bale's slim metallic suits, you're insane. If you think Keaton's almost mute Bruce Wayne is better than Bale's playboy, you're insane. Also, Keaton is incredibly short, talk about presence of Batman.
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-13
7:17AM on 07/18/2013

Purely done for shock value

If you really think Keaton's rubber suit is better than any one of Bale's slim metallic suits, you're insane. If you think Keaton's almost mute Bruce Wayne is better than Bale's playboy, you're insane. Also, Keaton is incredibly short, talk about presence of Batman.
If you really think Keaton's rubber suit is better than any one of Bale's slim metallic suits, you're insane. If you think Keaton's almost mute Bruce Wayne is better than Bale's playboy, you're insane. Also, Keaton is incredibly short, talk about presence of Batman.
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+23
7:02AM on 07/18/2013

Bale

I grew up on Burton's Batman and their fun and more kidlike approach, combined with a little edge. But interms of Batmen there was never really any competition. Keaton had a couple of shining moments, like the one in Vicki's office but overall he was just acting tormented and ponderingly looking off screen. Bale's Bruce was actually tormented, he had a real motivation and by the end of the trilogy I rooted for him like never before. Also the voice? C'mon, if you can't understand it there's
I grew up on Burton's Batman and their fun and more kidlike approach, combined with a little edge. But interms of Batmen there was never really any competition. Keaton had a couple of shining moments, like the one in Vicki's office but overall he was just acting tormented and ponderingly looking off screen. Bale's Bruce was actually tormented, he had a real motivation and by the end of the trilogy I rooted for him like never before. Also the voice? C'mon, if you can't understand it there's really a problem with your hearing not the performance.
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8:33AM on 07/18/2013
To each his own and you certainly motivated your preference very well. But the problem most people(well me anyway) have with Bale's voice isn't that you can't understand it. I hear every word just fine. the problem is that Bales bat voice sounds very very lame and laughable. Although I still think he was great in the part(almost every part he does for that matter) and I love both Batman Begins and the Dark Knight to death.(I try to pretend the 3rd one never happened)
To each his own and you certainly motivated your preference very well. But the problem most people(well me anyway) have with Bale's voice isn't that you can't understand it. I hear every word just fine. the problem is that Bales bat voice sounds very very lame and laughable. Although I still think he was great in the part(almost every part he does for that matter) and I love both Batman Begins and the Dark Knight to death.(I try to pretend the 3rd one never happened)
+7
6:36AM on 07/18/2013

SURPRISED

I never would have expected Keaton to win this type of battle. Especially on a site where almost every writer here loves a Batman trilogy that pretty much says everything you ever loved about Batman from the comics, the cartoons and previous movies is wrong. Best FACE-OFF article ever.
I never would have expected Keaton to win this type of battle. Especially on a site where almost every writer here loves a Batman trilogy that pretty much says everything you ever loved about Batman from the comics, the cartoons and previous movies is wrong. Best FACE-OFF article ever.
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5:34AM on 07/18/2013
I loved Batman begins and think it was the best Batman movie yet. However I did like Keatons more mysterious nature as the Batman he also had the ability to convey a lot of emotion with his eyes and I preferred his voice tone he didnt need to say alot but could still have that presence. However I do understand the motivation behind Bales Batman initially the voice tone was to convey fear something that worked really well in Begins but then something happened after Begins, I felt that the Batman
I loved Batman begins and think it was the best Batman movie yet. However I did like Keatons more mysterious nature as the Batman he also had the ability to convey a lot of emotion with his eyes and I preferred his voice tone he didnt need to say alot but could still have that presence. However I do understand the motivation behind Bales Batman initially the voice tone was to convey fear something that worked really well in Begins but then something happened after Begins, I felt that the Batman had lost his presence in the Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises He just became a guy in a suit.
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+8
5:09AM on 07/18/2013

Can't take this remotely seriously...

For one, there are so many errors regarding the movies this reader wonders if the writer has even watched all of these Batman movies more than once? Secondly, he picks Keaton...who was great in his day, but Bale embodied the character as the whole package.
For one, there are so many errors regarding the movies this reader wonders if the writer has even watched all of these Batman movies more than once? Secondly, he picks Keaton...who was great in his day, but Bale embodied the character as the whole package.
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-14
5:09AM on 07/18/2013
Michael Keaton for me. Bale is good Batman but Keaton is both good Bruce Wayne and Batman. As far as toys go, definitely Keaton's Batman, particular the Bat-Missile where Batmobile detaches all of its exterior body to make the car into a missile-shape Batmobile.
Michael Keaton for me. Bale is good Batman but Keaton is both good Bruce Wayne and Batman. As far as toys go, definitely Keaton's Batman, particular the Bat-Missile where Batmobile detaches all of its exterior body to make the car into a missile-shape Batmobile.
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-21
5:03AM on 07/18/2013
Yeah and down goes Bales Batman with his stupid Darth Vader-voicebox and his chicken shit / slacker-attittude to the job (Quitting the job to travell europe? Come on!).
Yeah and down goes Bales Batman with his stupid Darth Vader-voicebox and his chicken shit / slacker-attittude to the job (Quitting the job to travell europe? Come on!).
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+13
5:03AM on 07/18/2013

Christian Bale

He's the definitive Batman (and Bruce Wayne), soundly surpassing everyone else who's played the role. I just can't see anyone topping him.
He's the definitive Batman (and Bruce Wayne), soundly surpassing everyone else who's played the role. I just can't see anyone topping him.
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4:53AM on 07/18/2013

Nonsense

Keaton didn't even star in his own Batman movie.
Nice guy, decent Batman and Bruce Wayne but Bale was way better.
Keaton didn't even star in his own Batman movie.
Nice guy, decent Batman and Bruce Wayne but Bale was way better.
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+24
4:49AM on 07/18/2013

Christain Bale

Keaton has presence, but Bale has motivations, fights/villains, suit, and toys. Which suit that looks better may be up to preference, but Bale's has mobility and function, making his suit the obvious winner. Bale absolutely owns the toys category. Keaton may have a cool looking car, but the Tumbler is a much, MUCH better vehicle. Same thing with the rest of their toys, Bale's are better.

They're both great Batmen, but Bale is the clear winner.
Keaton has presence, but Bale has motivations, fights/villains, suit, and toys. Which suit that looks better may be up to preference, but Bale's has mobility and function, making his suit the obvious winner. Bale absolutely owns the toys category. Keaton may have a cool looking car, but the Tumbler is a much, MUCH better vehicle. Same thing with the rest of their toys, Bale's are better.

They're both great Batmen, but Bale is the clear winner.
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