If Robert Pattinson is the new king of the world, then Gotham City has just declared him their own. The 26-year-old actor from London recently became the first European to win the coveted title of People’s Sexiest Man Alive, winning the award over Hollywood heartthrob John Legend. The title is now officially up for grabs as Pattinson is set to take on the world as he embarks on his first full tour of duty as the Caped Crusader.
Whether you’re a Batman fan or not, it’s hard to deny the influence that the Dark Knight has had on pop culture. Since the character’s creation back in 1939, countless celebrities have donned the cape and cowl. But with Batman’s 75th anniversary just around the corner, it’s time to take a look at which actors have been the most successful in portraying the legendary hero, both on and off screen.
The King of Kings: Michael Keaton
If there’s one person who deserves to take the cake as the king of the world, it’s Michael Keaton. The Batman actor holds the record for the most Golden Globe nominations (7) and wins (3), while his performance as the superhero in the 1989 movie Mask is often hailed as one of the greatest comic book acting debuts of all time.
Keaton is best known for playing some of the greatest comic book characters of all time, including Batman, and he recently wrapped production on the highly anticipated sequel Suicide Squad 2. The actor is also set to appear in the upcoming Justice League as well as in the upcoming Netflix series The Witcher, based on the hugely successful fantasy novels by writer Andrzej Sapkowski.
The Dark Knight: Christian Bale
Like Michael Keaton, Christian Bale is also one of the greatest comic book actors of all time. The Welshman has played Batman in three films so far, with more on the way. While Keaton portrays the Caped Crusader with a more stoic, unassuming attitude, Bale’s Batman is a darker character, often seen wearing disguises or even a full-body suit. His most recent outing as the Dark Knight was 2014’s The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in the trilogy.
The actor is currently filming the highly anticipated sequel Batman Vs. Superman, which is set for release in 2019, as well as at least one other film. But even before he became a full-time actor, Bale enjoyed a successful career in TV commercials and music videos, which he later parlayed into a successful acting career. If you’re a fan of Christian Bale, then it’s hard to imagine a world sans Batman.
The Dark Knight Returns: Gary Oldman
While there’s no question that Christian Bale is the greatest Batman to date, Gary Oldman is definitely up there with him. The British actor best known for his work in the films Richard III and The Fifth Element, among others, has starred in three Batman films. But it’s not just the Batman role that has made Oldman famous — the actor also portrayed Gordon Freeman, the video game protagonist, in the 2008 film adaptation of the Half-Life series.
But it’s not only Batman that has made Oldman famous. The actor is also known for playing some of the greatest villains of all time, including Colonel Miles Quaritch in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Ivan Drago, the main villain, in the 2019 Oscar contenders The Death of Stalin and Bombshell, respectively.
Oldman’s most recent film, The Matrix: The Game, was released earlier this year and he is currently starring in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which opens in theaters on February 12th. But before then, we’ll be getting to see more of Oldman as the Caped Crusader in the highly anticipated Batman Vs. Superman in 2019.
The Riddler: Robert Downey Jr.
Before Christian Bale and Gary Oldman, there was (and probably still is) the king of comedy villains, Robert Downey Jr. The actor who plays The Riddler in the Batman films has made millions of dollars and won numerous awards for his portrayal of the criminal mastermind. While the character is known for his outlandish and witty banter, Downey’s comedic talent has permeated into his other roles, including those in Marvel movies where he plays a similar character.
The latest installment in the Batman series, The Lego Movie, is set to hit theaters on February 7th and will feature a voice cast that includes Downey, as well as Will Arnett and Morgan Freeman. But for fans of the character, the wait for the next adventure of The Riddler will be worth it.
The Penguin: Ben Affleck
If there’s one person who deserves to take the cake as the king of the world, it’s Ben Affleck. The actor best known for his work in the 2010 film Argo and the upcoming 2020 film Gone With the Wind, which will be released in theaters on February 12th, is officially the new king of the world. Affleck portrayed the titular character in the 2006 film adaptation of the comic book series The Incredibles and brought his trademark humor and comedic timing to the role, which landed him on the cover of numerous magazines. In addition to his acting career, Affleck is also the founder of a production company that produces TV shows and feature films.
While he won’t officially become king until February 12th, it’s already been an eventful year for the actor. First, he was named People’s Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine, which he later shared on Instagram. Then in January, Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner had their first child, a daughter named Violet. She was born in December and weighed in at a healthy 6 lbs, 7 oz.
If you’re a fan of Affleck, then it’s hard to imagine a world sans Batman. The actor has already played the Caped Crusader in two films and will play him again in the highly anticipated sequel. But even before he became a full-time actor, Affleck was already making a name for himself in movies, such as Good Will Hunting, which he wrote and directed. Even the most diehard Batman fans will have to admit that Affleck is a force to be reckoned with, whether he’s playing the Clown Prince of Crime or the Caped Crusader.
The Joker: Joaquin Phoenix
While there’s no question that these five men are among the greatest actors to ever play Batman, not all of them made the cut for being king of the world. The Joker, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in the latest film, Joker, is one such example. The actor, who has battled substance abuse issues for much of his life, recently kicked off a new chapter in his life with a fresh start in Nashville. It’s currently unknown where he will reside or what he will do for work. But it’s clear that his stint as Gotham City’s most notorious villain will be coming to an end.
While many people expected Phoenix to don the clown suit and fright wig again for the highly anticipated Suicide Squad 2, the actor opted to don a sweater and jeans for the role in Joker. But even before taking on the role of The Joker, Phoenix was known for his wild stage performances, which caught the attention of famed director David Lynch. The two worked together on the short film Dainty, which was later turned into the musical drama Twin Peaks: A Roundtable Conversation.
But it’s not just about the performances. It’s about the characters that these actors play. For most of them, it’s hard to imagine a world sans Batman. What’s more is that many of them have become somewhat of a symbol for the iconic DC Comics character. Downey, for example, was initially considered too handsome to play The Penguin and was then asked to play the character Frank Drebin in the popular 70s TV series. The question is: Will the Joker live up to the legacy of his iconic alter ego, or will he be the next to fall victim to the caped crusader? Only time will tell.
If you’re a fan of any of the actors listed above, then it’s hard to imagine a world sans Batman. Although they have all played the hero in one way or the other, it’s clear that this upcoming year will be an eventful one for the Caped Crusader.