Who played this ominous, edgy superhero the best? I break down each portrayal below.
By Bek Karp, Staff Writer and Artist
Over the countless years of cinema, there have been many fantastic original pieces. However, once there is a piece of media that is well-liked and done well, it breeds the idea of remakes. There have been countless amounts of phenomenal remakes, sequels or creating a whole fictional universe for a piece of media. And there are a myriad of characters we have seen reaching across years of the silver screen, such as James Bond, the Corleone Family and one of the newest and most popular, Spider-Man. All actors have different portrayals of a character, different ways to make a scene and different twists of a character’s backstory. And definitely different opinions from the public.
One of those characters that sixteen different men have portrayed is the one and only Bruce Wayne, Batman himself. And each portrayal has been different; some portrayals are revered, while some are scrutinized. Here is a mega breakdown of the big three depictions of the caped crusader.
With former Twilight Saga star Robert Pattinson as the new face of Gotham’s hero, he has done incredibly well in the public eye. Matt Reeves’ recent contribution to Batman, “The Batman”, scored an 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, a film rating site consisting of film critics’ reviews. “The Batman” also scored 88% in the audience section. The movie has only been out for about a month, but it has an overall positive reaction from viewers and the internet (which we know is the be-all and end-all rating system for some folks). In my humble superhero-loving opinion, I love that Pattinson played him as the “talk only when necessary” kind of guy, and he was not the “playboy” sort of billionaire we usually see. There was refreshing angst in the character.
Pattinson’s predecessor, Ben Affleck, in the DC Film Universe, had a worse fate. Affleck’s first appearance was in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the cards were already stacked against him. DC was beginning its “jealous sibling” phase, and the company wanted to be just like Marvel and pump out as much content as possible. When Affleck put on the suit, he may not have gotten the film that Batman deserved. But “Batman v Superman” did give us an amazing banter line between the two classic heroes speaking about Wonder Woman.
Superman: “Is she with you?”
Batman: “No, I thought she was with you.”
“Batman v Superman”, unfortunately, ended up with a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 63% in the audience meter. Batman’s next appearance was in “Justice League”, which earned a 39% Rotten Tomatoes and a 69% audience rate. These ratings are not ideal. Luckily, we did get the Zack Snyder cut of the movie, which was how it was initially supposed to be made before Snyder had to leave the project. This version has a whopping 71% Rotten Tomatoes and a 94% audience rate!
Now, all these numbers are arbitrary, and Affleck seemed to be good but only kept it good. He did get in excellent shape for the role and nailed down the weary I’ve-Been-Doing-This-Too-Long-side of Batman that countered his god-like partner in Superman.
Now I will break down the arguably most popular portrayal: Christain Bale in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy. Its opening film, “Batman Begins”, gained an 84%/94% Rotten Tomatoes score to audience rate. The second, “The Dark Knight”, gained 94%/94%. The closer, “The Dark Knight Rises”, gained 87%/90%. Bale certainly has the best-rated movies for his version of Batman. Could it have been because it was a Nolan film? Or was it because he had such epic villains portrayed by epic people like Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), Joker (Heath Ledger) and Bane (Tom Hardy)? Who knows? He definitely encapsulated the essence of the classic hero and was the king for a long time. In my opinion, he still is the best Batman, but it does seem like Pattinson will give him a run for his money.
So whether or not you are a superhero fan, it is incredibly interesting that one character can have so many variations, so many portrayals, storylines and costumes but still have the same heart. And in the words of Alfred Pennyworth himself, “Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman; he can be an outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice.”