Actors who played Batman: My Surprising Picks
Listing them best to worst.  What I've tried to do here is disentangle the actor from the film.  I know that's difficult because the actor's performance is tied to the material and the direction, but if you separate it out, you come up with surprising discoveries.  For example, the best Batman was in the worst Batman movie!

George Clooney - It's ironic that the best Batman was in what is generally regarded as the worst Batman movie ever.  What's unfortunate is the inability of 99% of the audience to be able to separate out the actor from the film.  Had Christopher Nolan been at the helm rather than Joel Schumacher, I have no doubt that Clooney would have been hailed as the best Batman ever.  Instead, he basically copied Adam West's commitment to the role no matter how ridiculous.  Had he been involved in a more tasteful production of the property, Clooney would have brought the appropriate gravitas to the character and been equally believable as who he already is: real-life Bruce Wayne.

Kevin Conroy - Even before the criticisms about Batman's voice in the Christopher Nolan series, my biggest problem with every incarnation so far is that they never sounded like Kevin Conroy.  This is what Batman is supposed to sound like.  It's unfortunate that this is considered "only voicework," and that's understandable, but Conroy was amazing at it.  Put simply: He sounds like Batman.

Christian Bale - Without a doubt, these were the best movies, so Bale will always get a major bump up in every evaluation simply by association (just as Clooney's performance will always be derided based on the quality of the film).  I just felt like he wasn't solid enough.  He's too thin and wiry for me to believe that (even in body armor) he could take on street gangs in a fight.  His performance was appropriately dour and introverted, but not in a way that really drew me in.

Adam West - It is perhaps unfair to even consider this performance alongside the others, given how far superhero media has made it in that time, but I like West's Batman because of his aforementioned commitment to the role.  As silly as the situations, costumes, and dialog were, he played it with 100% conviction and looked physically robust enough to actually Wham! Bang! Pow!

Michael Keaton - Let's say you have a character driven by a desire to fight crime after growing up with the memory of watching your parents murdered in front of you.  Who's the best choice to play that?  A comedian?!  I'll be the first to admit that Keaton is a capable actor, but this role is far outside his range.  There are too many scenes where he's crossing into comedic territory (e.g., rehearsing how to tell Vicky Vale he's Batman).  That's Tim Burton's fault for allowing that, but he never would have even attempted filming the scene that way with a more serious performer in the role.  People who grew up with these films love him, but those types never read comic books, much like Tim Burton.

Val Kilmer - He was in a mediocre movie, and he did absolutely nothing with it.  The proof is that this was the first (and only) film with him in the role, but almost no one remembers him.  When you think "Batman Forever," odds are you think Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, etc.

TBD: Ben Affleck - I'm withholding judgement. Not a single person thought Heath Ledger would make a decent Joker. Then we saw that first trailer and collectively went, "Whooooooaaaa!"  I would also like it if audiences were capable of judging the performance on its own merit rather than the quality of the film overall.  But that's asking a lot.

Copyright 2013 Ale[x]plorer
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