Opinions, Pop Culture

A look at Batman’s history — and why Robert Pattinson is the perfect Batman

If you were asked, “Who is Batman?” what would be the image that first pops into your head?

Maybe you see the gloomy, dark characterization of Batman as he faces off against The Penguin in “Batman Returns.” Maybe your first thought is the interrogation scene between The Batman and The Joker in “The Dark Knight.”

No matter what your version of Batman is, there is no doubt that the character has remained a staple of pop culture for nearly a century. However, with that legacy, there remains one question — who was the best to do it?

The first major appearance of Batman in theaters was in the 1989 film “Batman” as well as its sequel, “Batman Returns,” in 1992. This Batman, starring actor Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight and directed by gothic film director Tim Burton, uses the signature tone of Burton’s films to display the dark, eerie nightlife of Gotham City and its criminals.

Keaton’s Batman, unlike the campy humor of comic books and television shows prior, focused primarily on the dark, brooding characterization of Batman primarily used throughout DC Comics media today.

The film and its sequel, grossing $411 million and $266 million in total box office sales, were critically praised for their direction and character development. Hal Hinson of The Washington Post referred to it as “a magnificent living comic book.”

After Keaton stepped down from the role shortly after Batman Returns, this version of Batman continued in “Batman Forever,” this time starring Val Kilmer as Batman.

While much of the movie’s praise comes from Jim Carrey’s portrayal of The Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ of Two-Face, Kilmer maintained the legacy created by Keaton’s Batman.

However, this well-received streak, as well as the original Warner Bros. “Batman” series itself ended with the infamous portrayal of Batman by George Clooney in “Batman & Robin.”

Joined by Chris O’Donnell making his second appearance as Robin, Clooney’s portrayal of Batman is often regarded as the franchise’s worst entry. The film favored the heroism and marketability of characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s, Mr. Freeze over the deep, gloomy tone set by the previous entries.

After the vastly negative response to “Batman & Robin,” The Batman property took a hiatus from the big screen only to return to the big screen in 2005. The return featured one of the most iconic actors to ever wear the cowl, Christian Bale, in “Batman Begins” and the sequels “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

In my experience, my favorite part of reading Batman comics growing up was seeing how Batman solves crimes. Often called the “World’s Greatest Detective,” Bale’s portrayal did a poor job at highlighting that side of Batman, often ending his investigations the same way as any other encounter — with his fists.

After Bale’s tenure as the caped crusader, DC began to build their cinematic universe, bringing in actor Ben Affleck to primarily take on the role for the films “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Justice League.”

Inspired by Frank Miller’s comic miniseries “The Dark Knight Returns,” Affleck’s Batman is already a veteran superhero by the time he is introduced. Due to the nature of the DC’s production cycles, as well as poor scripting and writing, the films in which Affleck portrayed Batman were not well received.

Olly Richards, a writer for NME.com, said that “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was “such a disappointing movie.” The film, however, was a box office success, grossing $873.6 million worldwide.

In 2022’s “The Batman,” the latest installment of the Batman Franchise, director Matt Reeves takes Batman, starring Twilight’s Robert Pattinson, into a new and promising direction. Through a series of puzzles, ciphers, and riddles, The Riddler, played by Paul Dano, leads The Batman on an investigation throughout Gotham, peeling the cover off of its ravenous criminal underworld.

Alongside supporting cast members Zoë Kravitz, as Catwoman, and Jeffrey Wright and Commissioner James Gordon, Pattinson’s Batman gave a portrayal that showed a more sensitive Bruce Wayne, one that is still understanding the very nature of Gotham and its corruption — including his place within.

After watching Pattinson’s performance in “The Batman,” it is now safe to say that DC has found a perfect match for the caped crusader.

Comments are closed.

Daily 49er newsletter