Batman is one of the most famous comic book superheroes ever created. Loved by kids and even adults, his legacy has transcended from comic books to TV shows and movies. The Batman films often deliver some of the best comic book storytelling that we’ve seen on film.
More than just Batman himself, the movies have often demonstrated powerhouse performances from different actors as they play the Dark Knight’s friends and foes. For this list, we look at previous Batman movies and highlight some of the best performances we’ve seen.
Have a read before The Batman opens in cinemas this weekend.
Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight, 2008)
Unarguably one of the fan favourites, Ledger’s portrayal of Batman’s worst enemy took it to another level. His electrifying performance gave the Joker a persona that goes beyond crazy. It was so great that he posthumously won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Jim Carrey (Batman Forever, 1995)
Batman Forever pales in comparison to the Tim Burton movies, but Jim Carey’s performance as The Riddler was the film’s highlight. Combining his demented humour with his signature acting chops, Carey quickly became one of the most memorable Batman villains seen on film.
Michael Gough (Batman, 1989)
Playing Alfred Pennyworth in four Batman movies starting in 1989, the British actor gave a rather pleasant performance that’s just the perfect contrast for the dark and tormented Bruce Wayne. He played Alfred with such heart that made him one of the best characters in the movies.
Michael Keaton (Batman, 1989)
Many doubted his casting as the Caped Crusader when the movie was announced in the 80s, but as we know by now, Keaton’s portrayal of Batman is one of the most memorable, if not best, we’ve seen in the films. He is set to play Batman again in The Flash, 30 years after his last appearance.
Jack Nicholson (Batman, 1989)
While Heath Ledger gave a more grounded performance, Jack Nicholson’s original depiction of The Joker stayed true to his comic book roots. From the maniacal laughs to the excellent monologues, Nicolson’s Joker remains a fan favourite even today.
Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, 2012)
Tom Hardy’s performance as the villain Bane was one of the highlights of this last film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. More than just being a hulking menace, his performance shined through his eyes as he spent most of his screentime wearing a mask.
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns, 1992)
Batman’s feline foe is also a favourite in the comics, and Michelle Pfeiffer played Catwoman with such ferocity and depth that it made her a pop culture icon as soon as the movie opened in cinemas. Many actresses have played Catwoman over the years, but fans still consider Pfeiffer the best.
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight, 2008)
Replacing Katie Holmes from Batman Begins, Maggie’s Rachel Dawes gave a more grounded performance as Bruce Wayne’s love interest. Her own internal conflicts, as well as her will to fight to keep Gotham City safe, is what made her more than just a damsel in distress.
Michael Caine (Batman Begins, 2008)
Alfred always serves as Bruce Wayne’s moral compass whenever he shares his conflicts. While he wasn’t entirely on board with him being the Batman, he makes sure that Bruce stays true to his mission and why he is doing this in the first place. Michael Caine played this beautifully in Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and is considered one of the actor’s best performances.
Will Arnett (The Lego Movie, 2014)
Not all great Batman performances are live-action. Introduced in The Lego Movie, Will Arnett voices a funnier take on the Dark Knight. Despite the humour, it didn’t forget to showcase Batman’s personal struggles and ultimately ranks it as another outstanding performance.