Before I get going on this, I should acknowledge that starting this page right before some major life circumstances happened was unfortunate timing, since I haven’t posted on this in weeks. I’m going to try and get back to posting regularly. Ok, now back to the article.
The Bright Knight Adam West has passed away after a short battle with leukemia. Bringing nothing but joy to millions for decades is something that not many can say they accomplished, but he is one of the few who can say he did.
And with the passing of a bright light in the entertainment industry, let’s take a look at my personal picks for best portrayals of my favorite fictional character on Earth since the day I was born (and had awareness…)
Spoiler: George Clooney isn’t on this list. Sorry.
#10: Diedrich Bader
You may know him from The Drew Carey Show, Office Space, or the modern-day masterpiece Napoleon Dynamite, but you may not know that Bader provided the voice for the Dark Knight in a few different projects, most prominently Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
A lighter version of Batman, this show ran for a few years on Cartoon Network, and Bader gave a solid performance, something that is a very difficult standard to hit after someone else on our list.
#9: Roger Craig Smith
Roger Craig Smith has portrayed Bats a couple times, but his greatest performance is as Batman in Arkham Origins, the decent sort-of sequel/prequel to the amazing Arkham trilogy.
His voice is more of the Conroy-esque dark portrayal, but he has a great voice for the Bat that makes for a great performance.
#8: Will Arnett
Lego Batman embraced all of the stereotypes and jokes that came from Christian Bale’s dark performance, and created a hilarious character that has appeared in the wonderful surprise, The Lego Movie, and his own spinoff movie that was surprisingly enjoyable, The Lego Batman Movie.
Will Arnett was the perfect choice for this satirical take on the Caped Crusader, and his dry, hilarious demeanor was a great fit and funny change for the beloved character.
#7: Olan Soule
Just like Adam West brought us the live-action joy of Bruce Wayne, Soule brought us that same level of joyous happy Batman days in Super Friends and it’s accompanying shows in the ’70s and ’80s.
He was the voice of Batman for a decade, and passed away in 1994 from lung cancer.
#6: Will Friedle
It may not be Bruce Wayne, but Batman Beyond was freaking awesome, and everyone’s favorite brother of Boy Meets World, the best damn coming-of-age show ever, gave a fantastic performance as Terry McGinnis.
Batman Beyond gave us a new look at a Batman story, with Conroy portraying Bruce Wayne, and established Friedle as a prominent voice actor that has continued to provide him work to this day.
#5: Ben Affleck
This is where you bastards come and kill me with pitchforks, but I think Ben Affleck is great as Batffleck.
Sure, Batman vs. Superman had some major issues, and Suicide Squad makes BvS look like a masterpiece of filmmaking, but I still have hope that the DCEU will get their shit together and Justice League and The Batman will establish Affleck as one of the best Batmans of all time, even if it’s a Frank Miller Batman. Bold statement, I know.
#4: Christian Bale
In my personal favorite rendition of the Winged Avenger, Christian Bale gives a powerfully dark, and personal, performance of Wayne.
From here on out we have jumped to a new level of great, with top four of this list all giving awe-inspiring portrayals. Plus, The Dark Knight, is the greatest superhero movie of all time, and screw you if you disagree.
#3: Michael Keaton
It was a major risk to cast someone with a major comedic background for the first ever dark portrayal of Batman, but wow did it work.
Tim Burton’s Batman reunited Keaton with Burton after Beetlejuice, but also set the stage for the future of Batman. Prior to this film, Batman was not portrayed in the dark way we’re used to seeing now that juxtaposes the happy superheroes all around us. This film changed the way we see the Dark Knight, and Keaton’s brilliant portrayal as charming, powerful, and subtly comedic was a mix that has put him up above the rest.
#2: Adam West
For the remainder of time, if you combine the words ‘happy’ and ‘Batman’, Adam West will be the person that pops in your head. It’s undeniable that he helped save DC comics and Batman by causing a deep revival and love that has lived on ever since.
His character was goofy, funny, savvy, and while it may be goofy as hell to watch today after the Burton and Nolan renditions, his Batman defined the joy that could come from the superhero.
“How many actors have a shot at being a part of something that became a part of pop culture? It’s been very rewarding. I’m not getting the 20 million bucks for the new movies, but at least I’m getting warmth and recognition from people wherever I go.” — Adam West
#1: Kevin Conroy
No one is more synonymous to being the real life Caped Crusader than Kevin Conroy.
I think I didn’t screw these numbers up after going through his iMDB page, but here’s how many times he has portrayed Batman:
Games: 13 games
Movies: 15 movies
TV Shows: 8 television series
Shorts: 3 shorts
It’s also very possible I missed some, but damn, that’s all in the last 25 years. There’s no doubt that he is the greatest portrayer of the Dark Knight.
Adam West was the best and will be truly missed. His last portrayal as Batman is currently in post-production, and I’d encourage you to see Batman vs. Two-Face when it comes out later this year.
Until next time, please comment, share, like, subscribe, and let me know any requests 🙂