Discussion in 'Comics Central' started by Ome, May 26, 2017.
Just like the Superman thread
Lewis G Wilson
Wilson was the first and youngest actor ever to play the adult Batman, and also the least successful. At 23, the unknown thespian donned the cape and the cowl in the 15-part 1943 Columbia serial Batman. While he looked the part of the dashing playboy, his physique was more Danny DeVito as the Penguin. One critic described Wilson as “thick about the middle.” Maybe that was why he wore his utility belt just below his chest. Critics also complained that his voice was too high and that he had a Boston accent. That, of course, wouldn’t be the last time someone complained about Batman’s voice.
After Batman, Wilson’s career went nowhere. Most of his roles went uncredited. His next biggest movie part was probably in the 1951 cult classic Bowanga Bowanga. A few years later he was out of showbiz altogether. His son, Michael G Wilson, however, fared better in Hollywood, becoming the executive producer of the James Bond series. Lewis G Wilson died in 2000.
Lowery took over the role in the follow-up serial, 1949’s Batman And Robin. Unlike Lewis, Lowery, 36 at the time, was a veteran actor, having already appeared in The Mark Of Zorro (1940), The Mummy's Ghost (1944) and Dangerous Passage (1944). He also filled out the Batsuit better than Lewis, with his utility belt hanging where you would expect it on a non-octogenarian.
Though Lowery never played Batman in another movie, he did get to wear the cape once more and make superhero history in the process. In 1956 he guest-starred on an episode of The Adventures Of Superman, marking the first time a Batman actor shared screen time with a Superman actor. (One for the fact fans: the two actors also appeared together in their pre-superhero days, in a WWII anti-VD propaganda film called Sex Hygiene).
After Batman, Lowrey enjoyed another 20 years in movies and TV. He died in 1971.
The man logging the most hours in the Batcave, of course, was William West Anderson, whom you probably know better as Adam West. Either you love him for his goofy charm or hate him for blemishing the Bat’s image for several decades. His campy, over-the-top portrayal of Gotham’s Guardian infiltrated nearly every medium, including a 1966 movie and several animated series.
Legend has it producer William Dozier cast West after seeing him play a James Bond-like spy called Captain Q in a Nestlé Quik TV ad. He beat future Wonder Woman co-star Lyle Waggoner for the role. Dozier, who supposedly hated comic books, decided the only way the show would be successful was if they camped it up. So blame him.
Things would almost come full circle when, in 1970, West was offered the role of James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever. West declined, later writing in his autobiography that he believed Bond should always be played by a Brit. Holy bad career moves, Batman!
After the Batman series went off the air in 1968, West was resigned to typecast hell. At one point he was forced to make public appearances as the Caped Crusader to earn a living. Then, in 1977, he returned to the tube as Batman, doing his voice in The New Adventures Of Batman, and then on such shows as Super Friends.
West’s resurgence as a pop-culture icon began in the early 90s when he starred as a has-been TV action hero in the pilot episode of Lookwell, produced by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel. It wasn’t picked up but took on a cult following online. Since then his cult popularity has increased and he now makes regular appearances on the animated series Family Guy. He also did the Batman voice once again for the LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham videogame.
It took more than 20 years for Adam West to lose his exclusivity on Batman.
When director Tim Burton (who, like Dozier, was not a fan of comic books) and Michael Keaton were announced for 1989’s Batman, fans went bat-shit crazy, thinking their beloved superhero was going to get the Adam West treatment again. Keaton's casting caused such controversy that 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Bros’ offices. In an effort to appease the naysayers, Batman co-creator Bob Kane was hired as the film’s creative consultant.
Other Hollywood stars considered for the role of Batman included Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Charlie Sheen, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Selleck and Bill Murray. But producer Jon Peters said he cast Keaton because “The image of Batman is a big male model type, but I wanted a guy who's a real person who happens to put on this weird armor. A guy who's funny and scary. Keaton's both. He's got that explosive, insane side.''
This certainly showed in his portrayal of Bats ("Wanna get nuts?!"), which remains loved by critics and fans alike. Variety magazine gushed, “Michael Keaton captures the haunted intensity of the character, and seems particularly lonely and obsessive without Robin around to share his exploits.”
Keaton was rewarded by being the first actor to reprise the role on the big screen. And in 1992’s Batman Returns, Keaton again garnered positive reviews.
After Batman Returns, Keaton’s career slowed down, before resurging again in a big way. Comedy roles like the inadvertently-TLC-loving police chief in Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s The Other Guys helped him back towards the top, before his miraculous and self-referential turn in Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance) cemented his position as a much-loved, Oscar-nominated talent. Even more recently, he was ace in Spotlight.
When the Batman franchise was turned over to director Joel Schumacher, Keaton decided not to return. Daniel Day-Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, William Baldwin and Johnny Depp were reportedly considered as replacements. But the job was won by Val Kilmer – probably the most forgettable of the modern Batmen. Go ahead – try to remember. See? You can’t.
Schumacher became interested in Kilmer for 1995’s Batman Forever after seeing him in Tombstone (in which he played Doc Holiday, who Adam West also portrayed in a movie before he did the Batman TV series, fact fans!). Kilmer allegedly accepted the role without even reading the script or knowing who the new director was.
Schumacher quickly learned who Kilmer was, though, and the two clashed on the set. Schumacher later described Kilmer as “childish and impossible,” claiming that he fought with various crewmen and refused to speak to him for two weeks after the director asked his star to stop behaving rudely.
Kilmer’s performance got mixed reviews. As The New York Times put it, “The prime costume is now worn by Val Kilmer, who makes a good Batman but not a better one than Michael Keaton.” Bob Kane felt otherwise, saying he thought Kilmer did the best job of all the actors to have played Batman up to that point.
The movie performed better than Batman Returns at the box office, but Kilmer was destined to be a one-term caped crusader. Between his bad attitude and his concern that the superhero wasn’t getting as much screen time as the villains, he left the Batcave for good. Instead of filming 1997’s Batman & Robin, he did The Saint.
After Batman, Kilmer’s career headed downhill. Though it was probably 1996’s The Island Of Dr Moreau that had more to do with that than Batman Forever.
Clooney’s movie career was just taking off when he was cast in 1997’s Batman & Robin, with his breakthrough performance coming just the year before in Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Producers probably felt they pulled off a major coup landing the soon-to-be mega-movie star. Those producers, along with Clooney, probably regret that decision now.
Batman & Robin was a disaster, rife with homoeroticism, camp and those infamous Bat-nipples. Clooney once joked that he helped to kill the franchise. “Joel Schumacher told me we never made another Batman film because Batman was gay.” The actor also called the movie “a waste of money.”
Critics and fans agreed. In 1997, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “George Clooney is the big zero of the film, and should go down in history as the George Lazenby of the series.” Batman & Robin received 11 nominations at the Razzie Awards and frequently ranks among the worst films of all time. It was also the worst box-office performer of the modern Batman movies.
But all that did nothing to hurt Clooney’s career. After Batman, he went on to super stardom, starring in Out Of Sight (with a cameo from Michael Keaton), Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou? over the next three years. You don't need reminding of where he's gone since then, either.
Between Adam West and George Clooney, Batman seemed destined to remain a joke, at least when it came to live-action adaptations. Then came along Christopher Nolan. The Memento and Insomnia director was given the job of realising what became Batman Begins, and he planned to reinvent the franchise, finally making the Dark Knight dark.
Among the early candidates for the Batman/Bruce Wayne roles were Billy Crudup, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joshua Jackson and Cillian Murphy. But Nolan ultimately chose Christian Bale, explaining that “he has exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for.”
Bale got generally favourable reviews for 2005’s Batman Begins, with several critics saying it reminded them of his brilliant turn in American Psycho. Not so brilliant, it seems, was his uber-husky Bat-voice. One reviewer compared Bale's guttural utterances to a “10-year-old putting on an ‘adult’ voice to make prank phone calls.” It got even more gravelly in 2008’s The Dark Knight, with NPR’s David Edelstein describing it as “a voice that's deeper and hammier than ever.”
Even Kevin Conroy, the man behind probably the most recognisable Batman voice, chimed in, saying at a C2E2 panel in 2010 that Bale’s voice was “ridiculous” and implored the actor to stop doing it. Bale ignored this advice in The Dark Knight Rises (a film in which he wears the Batsuit a lot less, to be fair), but it was Tom Hardy's Bane vocal noises that garnered more vocal criticism from Nolan's threequel.
Regardless, Bale's Batman is fondly remembered, and always pops up during discussions of 'who's the best?', not least because of the stellar scripts, direction and cinematography which generally surrounded him. Rumours after The Dark Knight Rises insisted that Mr Bale turned down a huge pay cheque to avoid reprising the role once more, a decision that remains a particularly tantalising 'what if?' moment in Batman's cinematic history.
Between his turns as Bruce/Batman, Bale gained a reputation as being an interesting on-set presence thanks to his famous Terminator Salvation rant. That hasn't slowed his career down at all, though - working with Ridley Scott on Exodus: Gods And Kings for instance, one of a long line of starring roles from the former Dark Knight. His turn in American Hustle is perhaps his best loved post-cowl effort.
Ben Affleck donned the cinematic cape and cowl for the first time in Zack Snyder’s Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. After initial scepticism, vast sections of the internet seemed to warm to the idea during the film's promotional period, perhaps thanks to Affleck’s unpredictable turn in David Fincher’s novel adaptation Gone Girl, as well as his impressive trailer brooding.
Now, the reviews have been pretty kind to him. Only time will tell how Affleck will rank amongst the legion of Bat-actors to go before him, though, in terms of popular consensus.
We don't have to collectively decide a favourite straight away, thankfully. Judging by the fact that Warner Bros has already signed Affleck up for two Justice League movies and The Batman, it seems like he'll be the incumbent wearer of the live-action cowl for quite some time.
Snyder told the world that Batfleck will "bear the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne". It's easy to agree. Affleck's take is as conflicted-yet-charismatic as any Batmen that have gone before.
As Affleck's first Bat-movie sees him fight Supes (at least to start with), his take on Bruce Wayne had to work hard on his tech-building capabilities as well his gym regimen. The fight that eventually broke out between the two heroes was a brutal affair, recalling the iconic Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns. Affleck briefly played Bruce Wayne and Batman again in Suicide Squad. He's back in cape and cowl in earnest though for Justice League at the end of the year.
I haven't seen Christian Bale as Batman, but my brother worships him in the role.
That voice though.
He sounded like one of Marge Simpson's sisters.
This one is easy for me. I grew up loving Adam's show
1. Adam West
2. Christian Bale
3. Ben Affleck
I've only seen the 90s movies, and apart from Batman Returns being my favourite, I think Keaton had the best personality, and was the most interesting as businessman-turns-batman. There should always be enough contrast, imho.
Val Kilmer was OK, Clooney however....
I haven't seen Affleck in the role yet. I struggle with these actors who play more than one iconic superhero, but I could see him doing a good Bruce Wayne. But I think we've yet to see the perfect person in the role. None of the straight versions have struck the right balance for me. They're either bland, too overtly sociopathic or both.
Adam West is a legend. I grew up watching his version and have grown to love it even more as the years have gone on. Just hilarious.
So it's Batman '66 all the way for me.
"I'll stand at the bar. I shouldn't wish to attract attention."
Oh my! What a lovely, groovy time capsule!
The whole series is, Willie.
Have you ever seen it? If not, I heartily recommend it.
Purely based on the character, I think Spiderman is my favourite superhero. But I prefer Batman's world.
Incidentally, where's the Spiderman poll?
I'm not sure anyone's portrait of Batman quite hit the nail on the head for me, but I liked Adam West's silly comic version of the character, and the TV show's goofy, '60s vibe.
George Reeves seemed the perfect Superman (Superman, much like the Grinch, should always be a Capricorn) except he wasn't in the right shape physically, and his '50s TV show was a '50s TV show.
My nephew warned me about watching this movie only because it divided so many fans and critiques. I waited until it was released on Blu-ray. Hands down this is the worst movie I've ever seen and that is saying something after sitting through Meet Joe Black at the cinema.
I've seen the Lowery serial (he also starred in the Circus Boy TV series with future Monkee Micky Dolenz, then known as Micky Braddock) and the Keaton-Kilmer-Clooney movies, no real interest in Bale or Affleck. It's always going to be controversial but for me Adam West is the only true Batman.
And that's it. You have to get Bruce Wayne right, it's hard to buy into the whole Batman thing otherwise. Bale was a decent Batman (despite that voice) but he made for a dull Bruce Wayne. Kilmer was too pretty. And George Clooney was George Clooney.
I've nothing against Affleck but I'm never watching that movie.
As much as I love George cloonie he did not strike me as Batman the performance was a little off for me
i don't remember how good or bad the dudes were played him in the 40's were to be fair. but Michael Keaton though really NOW underrated is in my book the best batman. and it was the (1989) film that got me into batman at all. i love Keaton in the role and i remember him being hammered with all that was said at the time. now don't get me wrong Kilmer was decent in the role. Clooney did okay it was a WTF and still has that when it was announced back than but it's not him being cast in role in my book but the script that was used.
he may regret doing it NOW but back than i can't say that i blame him for taking it. it's not his worst film at all. have you seen Return to Horror High? from (1987) or Return of the killer Tomatoes? from (1988) now THOSE are painful to watch his turn it honestly the film has it's moments but it's not enough of them and it's a decent film and yes it is the weakest one thus far. Bale though was great in the role my only complaint was he sounded too much like Clint Eastwood while he was batman.
and Ben A. i was against it for a long time cause i just could not see it, and i have liked him since Good will Hunting came out 20 years ago. having said that he i think is a better batman than bale but he hasn't had a chance to really shine yet cause his 1st time at bat no pun intended was a medicore at best film i'm talking about the D-Cut that's 3 hrs long.
Sucide Squad i know i spelled that wrong sorry about that. now i watched again the D-cut and i loved it but they really didn't need the joker in the film at all. here is the thing people were pissed he's not in it enough. what they don't get is that it was never intended to be a joker film at all. i think they should have cut him out of the script altogether and the film prolly would be regarded as a better film. Leto is a really weak joker i think. Ledger was fine as the joker but Jack is my favorite Joker the 2nd Caeser Romero. why did i place ledger 3rd place?
it's simple i grew up with those jokers and they connect with me better than Ledger's did i don't think he was awful by any means i just think he's over-rated that's all.
but Ben A. when he does get a script that is really good he will be one of the better batmans i think cause i really loved him in the role much better than i thought i would.
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