Hey guys and gals! Thanks for coming back for round 2 of my weekly series, Ranked! This week the topic is everyone’s favorite vigilante orphan dressed as a winged mammal of the night: Batman!
I fully intended on keeping Batman as a topic for a later date, as I’m sure this topic is going to get plenty of discussion (discussion, i.e. hot blooded arguments). Batman, along with Spider-Man, might be the 2 most beloved superheroes of our generation. Along with that love comes a feeling of protection, knowing that our favorite version of the Bat is the ONLY logical choice. I too fall into this trap from time to time with my favored characters, but as I’ve said before, we’re incredibly lucky to live in a time where we get different versions of our favorite superheroes.
I did extensive research on this topic, and by extensive, I mean I racked my brain to think of every iteration I possibly could of the Caped Crusader. An icon like Batman could have warranted a Ranked list of 30, and probably deserves it. But you know, I have 2 jobs and a family, so you’re lucky you’re getting 10. Let’s be honest, the only reason I’m able to write one this week is because I’m off of work today due to the fact that 12 hours ago I thought I was dying. So let’s just be thankful for a new Ranked. And that I’m not dying.
So here we go!…
10. Adam West
So, in today’s world, Adam West is best known as the Mayor of Quahog on Family Guy, but there was a time, oh, 50 years ago when he was the definitive Batman. Granted, the show is campy and ridiculous, the villains are ridiculous, and let’s be honest, his bat costume showed off a little too much of the bat cave, if ya know what I’m saying. But I dare you to watch this show and not smile at some of the puns, and catch yourself a little TOO into the action the first time the animated “POW!” symbol pops up. Adam West’s inflection when speaking seems as if he’s doing his best William Shatner as Captain Kirk impression, and it makes me giggle every time (yes, grown men are allowed to giggle). Plus, the fact that this version of Batman has an invention, or a repellent, for everything shows just how off the wall, and sort of awesome, this version of the Batman really was.
9. New 52 Batman
DC’s New 52 was a bold attempt to reboot their mainstream universe, and characters, after the events of Flashpoint. While the changes made to certain characters (I’m looking at you, Superman) did not necessarily go over well with hardcore fans, Batman was given one of his best story arcs in years, letting him show why he’s referred to as the World’s Greatest Detective as he tracks the elusive Court of Owls, a group of Gotham’s elite pulling the strings behind the scenes for generations. He’s also up against a new foe in Talon, who is basically the most bad ass, killer owl you’ve ever come across. Without spoiling the big reveal for those who haven’t read the series (but guys, it was, like, 5 years ago. Get on it!), Batman/Bruce Wayne is again at his best in the short-lived New 52.
8. Ben Affleck DCEU
Fans of the Dark Knight are still divided on how they feel about Ben Affleck’s take on the Batman, and it’s tough to gauge with only one full movie, and a few scenes in Suicide Squad, under his belt. But the way I look at it is this: Affleck is portraying the most comic-book accurate version of Bruce Wayne & Batman we’ve ever seen on the big screen. From size, to look, to the costume and fighting style, the guy literally looks like a comic book version of Batman come to life. When Affleck was named as the heir to the cowl, I had many doubts. He won me over. The issues Batman V Superman had were not with his performance, and his fight scene near the tail end of the movie where he takes on, oh I don’t know, 156 guys, is one of the greatest action scenes put to film, especially in a superhero movie. The one thing we haven’t seen from Batfleck is the detective side of the hero, but I’m willing to put money on the fact that we’ll see it not only in Justice League, but in the Batman stand alone we’ll be getting hopefully in 2018. In the years to come, he just might move down this list…
7. Michael Keaton-Batman/Batman Returns
Michael Keaton was the Batman of my youth. Now, neither his Batman or Bruce Wayne are what we’d consider “comic book accurate,” but both felt right at home in the Gothic world director Tim Burton created. Regardless of his acting chops, I don’t think many would’ve had Michael Keaton on the top of their list to play Batman, but he excelled in the role, acting as the perfect counterpoint to Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Keaton was tasked with a tough job, to make those who didn’t give a crap about comics care about the Dark Knight. Up until this point, when most thought of Batman, they thought of the 1966 Adam West version, which was campy and classic in its own right, but was certainly not the dark and gritty Batman many had come to love in the comics of the 1980’s. Keaton’s Batman, and Bruce Wayne for that matter, were perfect for Burton’s interpretation. Now if only he could move his damn head in that costume.
6. Thomas Wayne-Flashpoint
Ohhhhhh, Barry Allen. Always screwing up timelines and what not. When the Flash decided once and for all he had to go back in time and save his parents, he created an alternate reality in which Bruce Wayne was killed in that alley as a child, leading his mother to go crazy and become the Joker, and father to go, well, crazy and become this reality’s Batman. A Batman who has no problem killing the scum of Gotham. Thomas Wayne carries a burden that just might be worse than Bruce carries in the mainstream continuity. Not only was he unable to protect his only child, the love of his life becomes his arch nemesis. In everything he says and does, you feel the pain that he continues to go through. He, more than any other, is the reason the Flash is able to set the timeline right, as he kills the Reverse Flash with an Amazonian sword. That. Is. Awesome. Also, his costume is legittttttttttttttt.
5. Christian Bale-The Dark Knight Trilogy
Say what you want about his Batman voice (yes, it was semi-ridiculous, and yes, I sometimes use it in my every day life), but Christian Bale’s Batman brought this character to the masses in a way no other version had ever been able to accomplish. Like Keaton’s Batman over a decade before, Bale’s version was not heavy on comic book accuracies, instead creating a character, along with director Christopher Nolan, that was perfect for the world they were building. With a batsuit that was more armor than costume, and a full arsenal of military grade weapons and vehicles, Bale’s Batman was a one man army in Gotham City. I know that this list is about Batman, but Bale’s Bruce Wayne, played up as a spoiled, rich playboy, was one of my favorite things about his variant. Christian Bale might not be everyone’s favorite version, but along with Heath Ledger’s Joker and director Nolan, he might have given us the greatest superhero movie of all time in The Dark Knight (do I sense a Ranked! for the near future?)
4. Arkham City: Batman
Unlike several of my Geekiverse colleagues, and several members of my family, I am not a “video game person.” With that said, the Arkham games give those who love the World’s Greatest Detective a fan-favorite version. I will never claim to know a ton about these games and understand all of their ins and outs, but the Arkham version makes the list based on these thoughts. Kevin Conroy, the definitive “voice” of Batman, voices the character (most of the time, I am aware he didn’t do Arkham: Origins). Batman’s fighting style throughout the game is close combat, intense and ever evolving, even letting you take on more than one opponent at a time. Throughout the series, you are able to go full “World’s Greatest Detective” with Bats, showing just how smart Bruce Wayne really is as a crime fighter. The stories weave in and out of opportunities to communicate with Batman’s greatest allies as well as his deadliest foes, showing just how far reaching the Batman Universe really is. It also doesn’t hurt that Batman has some of the best costumes he’s ever had in these games, and some of the alternate uniforms are utterly epic.
3. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
I have never been a fan of Miller’s take on the look of the Batman. With that said, everything else about his version of the Bat is hardcore and legendary. We have a Batman who is worn down and world weary from decades of years as a vigilante. He has been retired for some time but returns to the cowl just in time to have a showdown with the Man of Steel. Did I mention that he beats the ever-living hell out of Superman? Did I mention that that’s the primary reason this version is this high on the list? Oh, and he fakes his own death, too. This version of the Bat has reached legendary status due to his unique views and darker ways of getting things done. As I said before, this version of Bats is hardcore, and I’m a fan of that.
2. Batman: The Animated Series
There are many, regardless of all of the different iterations of the Caped Crusader, who claim that this version is the definitive version of the character. Truthfully, that’s hard for me to argue with. With an old school “noir” style, and a gritty, darker tone, this show continued the Tim Burton aesthetic of painting a darker, more violent hero in Batman. The importance of the series cannot be overstated, as several characters and elements from the show made their way into the greater DC universe (Harley Quinn, anyone?). Kevin Conroy masterfully voices Batman and his alter-ego, bringing both sides of the character to life in a way most hadn’t seen (uhhhh, heard) before. This series, and this version of Batman, may have have just played a huge part in paving the way for the Batman we see in the comics, and movies, today.
1. Batman: Hush
The arc written in 2002 by comic book heavyweight (and current Agents of SHIELD producer) Jeph Loeb and illustrated by legendary artist Jim Lee is one of the best Batman stories ever written. Lee draws Batman in the most iconic of ways, and Loeb writes him as a man obsessed with finding the killer, yet also haunted at every turn by the demons of his past. At one point in the story, in which Batman’s villains are all acting strange…okay, stranger…than normal, Batman nearly kills the Joker by beating him severely, before being shot by Jim Gordon. This is a Batman at his wits end and nearly off his rocker. And I freakin’ dig it! The story takes a lot of twists and turns, and also thankfully introduces former Robin, future Red Hood Jason Todd back into continuity. When I think of a comic book Batman, or I think of Batman in general, this is the version I picture…. Well, either this one, or Adam West’s version wearing board shorts over his costume. It’s a toss up.
Thanks for sticking it out through my 2nd edition of Ranked! As always, comment your list below, I would love to see what your favorites look like! If you thought this list sucked, remember…I thought I was dying last night. We can blame it on that.
Lou Mattiuzzo is a full time teacher, full time husband, full time father & full time superhero nerd.
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