With new details about the highly-anticipated new film, Batman vs Robin, emerging, we revisit a classic debate: which of the film’s star-studded leads, Robert Pattinson or Christian Bale, is the better Batman?

The Need for Speed

In Batman vs Robin, Christian Bale’s Batman is a world-class athlete whose prowess on the bike is equaled only by his unflagging energy. This Batman is a veritable machine, moving quickly from one scene to the next with hardly a break in between. He drives a white SUV, spends most of his time in Gotham City working in tandem with Officer James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and is generally supported (and occasionally assisted) by a group of loyal acolytes known as the Bat-family.

While most reviews have praised Bale’s performance, there have been a handful of critics who have taken issue with some of the Batman’s decisions and dialogue. Specifically, some have called out the character for being a bit campyand for using too many catch phrases. As for the latter criticism, Bale has addressed it directly, telling press that the character is supposed to be campy, “but I don’t think it’s meant to be funny. It’s meant to be quite intimidating. It’s meant to be frightening; it’s not meant to be funny.”

The Dark Knight Rises

In the concluding part of Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, Christian Bale’s Batman rides off into the sunset (literally) after battling Bane (Tom Hardy) on the seaside. This Batman appears to be at peace, content to spend his last days with his family and cruising the streets on his bike. He has returned home to save the city, but it is far from clear what his true intentions are. To further complicate matters, Wayne Enterprises is in financial ruins and it is unclear who will ultimately emerge as the hero of the bat-story. Perhaps most significantly, Nolan’s Batman does not share the same gritty appearance of his earlier incarnations, sporting a full blonde wig, heavy makeup, and bright orange jumpsuit.

Despite the campiness of this final Batman installment, audiences still turned out in force, giving the film a stunning $758 million worldwide. It would appear that no matter how many times Batman takes a fall, he always gets up again. And in a way, that’s the story of Christian Bale’s Batman as well: despite multiple injuries, the billionaire mogul always gets back on his bike and races toward his next high-stakes adventure.

The Lego Batman Movie

Another installment in the cinematic universe, The Lego Batman Movie, sees Batman team up with a host of characters from the DC Comics universe, including but not limited to, Superman, Robin, Nightwing and more. The film’s main star, Will Arnett, portrays a somewhat more mature and humanized Batman than has been common in previous films, reflecting on the darker aspects of the character, as well as his more human relationships with the people in his life. While not without its challenges, The Lego Batman Movie is a bright, colorful, and fast-paced ride, boasting a phenomenal $912 million worldwide, making it one of the highest-grossing Lego Films to date.

The Man of Steel

Henry Cavill’s take on the heroic DC Comics character, Superman, was arguably one of the most anticipated films of the year. Directed by Zack Snyder, the film follows Superman as he sets off on his latest challenge, defending Earth from the destructive forces of Doomsday, a genetically-engineered creature. The special effects for Doomsday are incredible, but what really sets the scene are the costumes wearing the main characters: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The three stars dazzle in their bright yellow, green, and red outfits, hued to perfection and boasting the proper amount of shimmer and shine. While some have compared the costumes to that of a high-school team, the dazzling color palettes are a far cry from what the iconic costumes looked like back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, when the Man of Steel first appeared on our big-screen TVs.

Suicide Squad

The dark tones and gritty visuals of Suicide Squad create an eerily immersive experience, transporting the audience right into the middle of a high-octane spy thriller. Tasked with executing dangerous high-risk missions for the government, the Squad—a ragtag bunch of supervillains—must work together, both on and off the battlefield, to save the world. The members of the Squad, like Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), are dangerous individuals, driven only by their own selfish ambitions. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the vigilante justice they dispense that leads to even more dangerous situations and repeated calls for help from the Gotham City police department. Much like Batman vs Robin (above), Suicide Squad was criticized for its campiness and for featuring far too many catch-phrases.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy

Finally, let’s turn to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, beginning with The Dark Knight, which continues the debate above, as well as delves into a different direction, with a psychologically complex and somewhat dark Batman. In this installment, the Dark Knight’s emergence as a symbol of justice, particularly in light of the controversial court case that pits him against the police and the legal system, is further complicated by the revelation that he has a son, Robin, who is not only a talented fighter but who also idolizes his father and wishes to emulate his public persona. As in much of Nolan’s work, the identity of the main villain is shrouded in mystery, although the film does reveal that the Joker (acclaimed Australian actor Mark Wahlberg) frames him for the murder of a small-time criminal, James Fish (Brenton Thwaites). While the Joker is an infamous villain, his motivations and methods are rather different than those of Batman’s traditional adversaries. The Dark Knight is a somber yet character-driven take on the Batman mythos, which earned Nolan and company an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Dark Knight Rises

The next installment in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy sees Batman race against time to stop the criminal mastermind Bane from freeing his beloved Gotham from the clutches of corruption. In a way, The Dark Knight Rises is the culmination of everything we’ve discussed so far, as we arrive at the very moment when Batman finally meets his match: Bane, the towering, masked antagonist who plots to destroy Gotham City, and who has a personal vendetta against the Dark Knight.

As with all of Nolan’s Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises is superbly scripted and meticulously orchestrated, from the way the rays of light play across Bane’s face as he looms over Batman to the way the camera focuses, with unnerving precision, on the two stars’ eyes as they connect in the final battle. The film also marks the return of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Tom Hardy as Bane, along with a host of other great character performers, including the late, great Robin Williams, as well as John Goodman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Rosario Dawson. The Dark Knight Rises is, quite simply, a masterpiece.

Justice League

The ultimate culmination of two years of extensive, costly pre-production, Justice League is finally here: the first official movie trailer for the highly-anticipated superhero team-up, featuring the likes of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash (Barry Allen).