Batman Actors Ranked: From Adam West to Robert Pattinson

Last Updated on May 25, 2022

batman actors ranked

Now that Robert Pattinson’s take on The Batman is taking the box office by storm, as well as both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton returning to the role in the upcoming Flash movie, what better time to take stock of all the actors who have played Batman, and rank them in order? As luck would have it, fans have had a wide range of quality actors playing Bruce Wayne/Batman over the years. Some were saddled with a little less to work with, but the opportunity was there; after all, there are arguably a finite amount of dimensions to Batman as a character. So who was best, who was worst, and who fell dismally somewhere in the middle? Here’s JoBlo’s ranking of Batman actors from past to present.

9. George Clooney

As wonderfully charismatic as George Clooney is, 1997’s Batman & Robin found the A-lister more or less as just that… George Clooney. Like Val Kilmer, who’s next on this list, Clooney didn’t have much solid material to play around with, so simply ended up feeling like George Clooney in a Batsuit. Although that’s fun in its own way, everybody was expecting more – even Clooney himself, who takes any opportunity he gets to rag on his experience as Batman. As a big fan of George, I’m loathe to put him at the bottom of this Batman actors ranking, but here we are.

8. Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer was hot property at the time of his casting as Bruce Wayne, having developed his cool factor appearing as Iceman in Top Gun, Jim Morrison in The Doors and Doc Holliday in Tombstone. He accepted the part without knowing who the director would be and without even reading a script; had he done so, he likely would’ve passed. A lot of what Joel Schumacher set out to do with Batman Forever was lost to the cutting room floor; recently-emerged details about Bruce Wayne’s struggle to reconcile with his fear offer scant details on what could have been one of the most introspective Batman adaptations ever made. Alas, it was not to be, and Batman Forever instead turned into a zany toy commercial. Kilmer made for a cool Bruce Wayne and a fine Batman, although without any heavy lifting to do – and perhaps being a little too aloof – he finds himself near the bottom of this Batman actors’ ranking.

7. Diedrich Bader

Diedrich Bader Batman the Brave and the Bold

Diedrich Bader (Napoloeon Dynamite, Office Space) provided a pitch-perfect, Adam  West-inspired, contemporary spin on Golden Age Batman when he provided the voice for the Caped Crusader in Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series (2008-2011). Bader deserves a mention on this list simply because his Batman was so damn funny. Obviously, Bader owes most of that to the writing, but the actor is also known for his improvisational skills – I’d be surprised if he didn’t have some input into some of his lines. Either way, his delivery was impeccable; case in point, when Black Canary invites him out for dinner, to which he replies; “Crime doesn’t take dinner breaks, and neither do I.” Quality line delivery like that is exactly why Mr. Bader finds himself ranked at number 7 on this list of Batman actors.

6. Adam West

batman actors ranked Adam West

Adam West slid up and down this list a few times before I cemented him in place at number six; his performance in Batman ’66 is of course, very ‘of it’s time’. It’s silly, camp and fun. It gave kids the world over the opportunity to experience superheroes on the small screen – in many cases, for the first time. Adam West himself was obviously having a blast; he took the job seriously, mentioning in one interview that he tried to remember Batman as he knew him as a child: with emotional recall. For taking the role seriously and creating a lasting impression for the character that has spanned so many decades that it’s his show has since reappeared in comic book form (Batman ’66), Adam West gets the number 6 slot on this ranked list of Batman actors.

5. Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck has not had an easy time of things since debuting as Batman in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. From angry fans, to Snyder loyalists who never wanted him to give up the cowl, to the constant paparazzi attention and memification of every silent moment… you often get the impression that Affleck wishes he never said “yes” to the role. All that aside, he delivered fans a Bruce Wayne who’s older, cynical, more pragmatic and paranoid; he perfectly exemplified what Zack Snyder wanted his Batman to be.

“Tell me… do you bleed? You will” is an iconic line at this point. The muscle gain is iconic (those monster truck tires aren’t going to flip themselves) and branding criminals because you’ve been in the dark too long is iconic. Is Batfleck for everybody? Certainly not. Is he a metal f*ckin’ Bruce Wayne and Batman? Hell yeah. Good on him for sticking it out and coming back for The Flash, and for making it to number 5 on this list of Batman actor rankings.

4. Michael Keaton


Kevin Smith recently said on his podcast, Fatman Beyond, that seeing Michael Keaton on-screen as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman was the first time he thought, holy sh*t – they made Batman real. It wasn’t until Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan came along later that he thought no, wait – this is real. The sentiment remains; Michael Keaton ushered in an adult Batman that for all its gothic nature felt like it existed in the real world; that Gotham was a real, seedy city and Keaton’s Batman was just the dark defender it needed. Keaton did both parts well; the theatrics and physicality of the Bat; the dark, broody Bruce Wayne; and the smarmy playboy Bruce Wayne. Keaton gets the number three slot on this list of Batman actors, ranked, for being a sheer originator and paving the way to the world of adult-oriented comic book adaptation. “You wanna get nuts!? Let’s get nuts!”

3. Kevin Conroy

batman actors ranked Kevin conroy

Kevin Conroy arguably created the most iconic Bat-voice in Batman: The Animated Series from 1992 to 1995. Since then, he’s reappeared countless times doing not only the voicework for Bruce Wayne/Batman in everything from animation to video games but actually physically appearing as an aged Batman in the Arrowverse’s Crisis crossover. Conroy long ago created a perfect blend of gravitas wrapped in fatherly authority that many associate with Bruce Wayne as soon as they hear it. For the perfect voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman, look no further than Kevin Conroy – that’s why he gets the number 3 spot on this list of Batman actors, ranked.

2. Robert Pattinson

That’s right, making a strong start with the release of Matt Reeves’ The Batman is everybody’s favorite emo-Bats; Robert Pattinson. Although this suggestion would’ve been derisible a mere decade ago following Pattinson’s shuttering of The Twilight Saga, the British actor has evolved since then.

His coterie of roles since his breakout YA pentalogy have showcased his pedigree, from indie fare like Good Times and Cosmopolis to a James Bond-esque role in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. His resume – specifically the Safdie Brothers’ Good Times – brought him to the attention of Matt Reeves, who at some point in The Batman writing process started picturing the London-born actor for the role.

Pattinson was surprisingly up for it, and the rest is history. As The Batman currently lights up the box office, fan reaction to Pattinson has been strong, and the debate now rages comparing Pattinson and Bale for best on-screen Batman. R-Patz brings a moody edge to the role, a ‘Year 2’ Batman that’s so absorbed in his crusade that he’s completely lost touch with who Bruce Wayne is. While Bale also exemplified this aspect of the character, Pattinson’s take is so far off the deep-end that’s he wearing guyliner, his bangs are out of control, and he’s running around declaring himself as literally being “Vengeance”.

Pattinson gets points for basically being Batman for the majority of The Batman, and clearly wholeheartedly committing himself to the role. Whereas his predecessor, Ben Affleck, had his time in the role stunted by behind-the-scenes drama, Robert Pattinson has been able to take Bats in a bold new direction that has pleased the majority of fans so far. Kudos.

1. Christian Bale

batman actors ranked: christian bale

What Christopher Nolan achieved with his Batman trilogy was astounding, and not only because he resurrected the character from the graveyard of Batman & Robin (which many forget was only a scant eight years prior). Nolan implemented a Gotham City that was real and relatable, and a Bruce Wayne who developed a Batman that was not only believable but something to believe in. Christian Bale was the lynchpin for that. His Bat-voice was – and still is – iconic, and the gold-standard (as much as its been made fun of, its cemented itself in the zeitgeist). Even Robert Pattinson seems to have taken his gravelly Batman tones from Bale’s playbook. Bale’s Bruce Wayne was also expertly crafted; the party boy millionaire who actually hides a wounded and soft heart. It’s a Batman who understands the necessity of the Bruce Wayne persona, in order to fund his eternal crusade.

You can tell that Bale likes acting against people, and Cillian Murphy, Heath Ledger and Tom Hardy all gave him worthy villains to go up against. Bale is truly never better than when he has somebody to bounce off of (as exemplified by the recent Ford Vs Ferarri, where he worked wonderfully opposite Matt Damon). Bale has created perhaps the most enduring rendition of Batman as far as this writer is concerned, although time will tell whether Michael Keaton edges him off the top spot when he returns to the character for both The Flash in 2023 and Batgirl in the not-too-distant future. That concludes this ranking of Batman actors, with Christian Bale retaining first place, in spite of Pattinson’s upstart revival!

What’s YOUR order? Talk back below!


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