Batman is one of the most iconic characters in history, but not every portrayal has been created equal, and Christian Bale’s is arguably the best.
Batman is one of the most iconic characters in history, but not every portrayal has been created equal, and Christian Bale’s is arguably the best. Playing Batman is a rare honor, and only a small fraternity of actors have gotten the pleasure. Of course, some Batman performances aren’t exactly home runs, such as Val Kilmer’s in Batman Forever – which was okay but not great – and George Clooney’s in Batman & Robin, which not even Clooney himself is fond of in hindsight. Meanwhile, Ben Affleck’s Batman has proven divisive, with some loving it and others not.
A few actors tend to rise of the top of the ranks when Batman is discussed, those being Adam West, Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale. While some might scoff at West, due to how silly the show he starred on was, his performance was perfect for the intended tone, and way more clever than some might be inclined to give credit for. Keaton was able to craft a very distinct pair of characterizations for Batman and Bruce Wayne, highlighting that while they’re technically the same person, they have little in common.Continue scrolling to keep reading
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Bale was also able to highlight the contrasts between Batman and Bruce Wayne in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, to great effect. Here’s why that strategy is the key to playing a successful Batman on the big screen.
Bale’s Batman Worked Because He Understood Bruce’s Duality
One of the big stated themes emphasized by director Tim Burton in his 1989 Batman film was the duality present in the balancing of Batman and Bruce Wayne’s simultaneous but altogether separate lives. Michael Keaton proved to be the perfect actor to carry out Burton’s mission statement, and for Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale performed up to the same level. Like Keaton, Bale played up the inherent contradictions between Batman and Bruce Wayne, especially as to which one is really the secret identity, or the mask he wears.
Bale is clearly much more comfortable and in his element fighting crime in dark alleys than he is overseeing any aspect of Wayne Enterprises or pulling off his public persona of billionaire playboy. Bruce’s money and lavish lifestyle really doesn’t matter much to him, other than that it enables him to be Batman, and craft the equipment he needs to face off with supervillains. Bale himself actually confirmed his focus on duality when playing Batman/Bruce Wayne in a roundabout way, via an interview with Movie Hole way back before he had even been officially cast in Batman Begins. One wonders if this also connects to Burton and Keaton’s choices, as Bale was a teenager in 1989, and it’s very possible Burton’s Batman made a lasting impression on him.
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About The Author
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Michael Kennedy is an avid movie and TV fan that’s been working for Screen Rant in various capacities since 2014. In that time, Michael has written over 2000 articles for the site, first working solely as a news writer, then later as a senior writer and associate news editor. Most recently, Michael helped launch Screen Rant’s new horror section, and is now the lead staff writer when it comes to all things frightening. A FL native, Michael is passionate about pop culture, and earned an AS degree in film production in 2012. He also loves both Marvel and DC movies, and wishes every superhero fan could just get along. When not writing, Michael enjoys going to concerts, taking in live professional wrestling, and debating pop culture. A long-term member of the Screen Rant family, Michael looks forward to continuing on creating new content for the site for many more years to come.
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