Michael Keaton. Christian Bale. Val Kilmer. George Clooney. Even, yes, Adam West (he did a Batman film during the TV show's run). All of them have donned the bat-ears, the billowy cape, and the pointy gloves for one movie or another, to varying levels of success. Some became fan favorites; others, The Batmen We Do Not Speak Of.
We've gone back through all the batfilms and watched them exhaustively-even Batman & Robin, so that should tell you how seriously we took it. Examining criteria as diverse as ass-kicking ability, scoring tail, and homoerotic undertones, we crunch the numbers to give you the Best Movie Batman Ever (so far).
#5. ADAM WEST - Batman: The Movie (1966)
Coolness of Costume
In a word: dignified. That's what Adam West's Batman isn't. Tiny little nubbin bat-ears, a bat emblem that looks like it's slid halfway down his sallow, pectorally-absent chest, and a cape so wrinkled it makes one wonder if Batman had a long layover in Houston with his costume bunched up in his carry-on.
The worst offense, though, has to be the painted-on eyebrows. The point of Batman's costume is to strike fear in the hearts of criminals, not to make them wonder why he always looks surprised to see them, like he recognizes them from high school or something. "Tom... Tom Franklin? You son of a bitch, get over here, you!"
Also, we didn't bother to include a picture of Batman's bat-package (you're welcome), but let's just say '60s Batman's genital-hugging blue satin panties don't leave a lot to the imagination. Ignorant as to whether or not Adam West is circumcised? Anybody who watched Batman: The Movie can't, unfortunately, say the same.
BatWest fights like someone having a stroke. To be fair, Batman: The Movie's supposed to be campy. To once again be unfair, it looks like they didn't so much choreograph their fights as just run around flailing their arms like the set just caught on fire:
[whistling] Man, let that in. BatWest just got his ass handed to him there by a quacking Burgess Meredith with a pillow under his tuxedo. That's the point in your crime-fighting career where you just need to stop and frankly assess some things that might have gotten away from you. If BatWest had to fight a six-year-old girl on crutches, frankly, it could go either way.
Those Wonderful Toys
BatWest had the Batmobile, the Batcopter, the Batcycle, and the Batcave. But whatever-every Batman has those. What puts BatWest's bat-gadgets head and shoulders above any other movie Batman's gadgets was his magical utility belt, which housed roughly 60 billion bat-themed doohickeys that could be pulled out in any situation whatsoever. Need something soldered? Batblowtorch! Getting gassed by the Penguin? Anti-Penguin gas pills! Want a sandwich sliced? Batlaser! Motherfucker even had Bat-shark repellent on hand:
Smoothness with the Ladies
BatWest must have realized how not macho he looked running around in tight satin panties, and so overcompensated with his alter ego Bruce Wayne, swinging '60s bachelor. The sly grin, slicked-back hair, and ascot (right) combine to make him look like the guest star on an all-sexual predator episode of The Love Boat. Come. And. Get it, ladies.
Plus, if the tell-all autobiographies written by the cast are to be believed, Adam West spent the majority of the TV series and motion picture getting drunk, doing drugs, and attempting to nail any co-star with a pulse and a vagina. Whether or not this was a good thing or a bad thing depends, we suppose, on your stance on this sort of behavior and whose autobiography you're reading.
Robin "helps out" (i.e., gets kidnapped every 10 minutes), and Commissioner Gordon and Irish stereotype Chief "Bless Me Shamrocks" O'Hara could be counted on to be useless enough to need Batman's assistance on pretty much every single crime committed in Gotham City. Take a breath mint from the Commissioner's desk without asking, and he'd be leaping across his office to the Batphone to get some help cracking the case.
BatWest got around that whole "living (and fighting crime in his underpants) with a minor" thing by having Aunt Harriet move in with them, presumably to keep an eye out for any shenanigans of the homosexual variety. Having said that, they managed to hide secret identities and a vast underground cave fortress with a helicopter pad from her, meaning she was either pretty liberal about the whole thing or had the observational skills of a particularily stupid earthworm.
#4. GEORGE CLOONEY - Batman & Robin (1997)
Ability to Kick Ass
BatClooney, with assists from Robin (Chris O'Donnell) and Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), does battle here with Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a supervillain whose sole superpower is the ability to turn water into ice, making him about as menacing as the cube-making feature in your refrigerator; and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), a supervillainess who can grow plants and make men fall in love with her (essentially, the superpowers of an attractive woman with a garden).
Coolness of Costume
BatClooney abandons the yellow Batsymbol and somber blacks, adopting a showy silver look not unlike a crime-fighting tuna fish. Improvements abound in the cowl region, which trades in the cumbersome ceramic headpiece of earlier incarnations for a large-nosed latex rubber mask, meaning Batman can now blow his nose in-costume and possesses peripheral vision of at least an inch on either side. Watch out, criminals standing very slightly to his left or right!
Also worth noting: Against all reason and decency, the Batsuit now features nipples, possibly as part of some new Bat-lactation feature. (Theory: They squirt Gatorade when he's thirsty?)
Those Wonderful Toys
Mr. Freeze uses his only superpower to turn the floor into an ice rink just as Batman and Robin are about to apprehend him. Luckily, our crimefighters yell "Batskates!", at which point, yes, Batskates pop out of their boots and they proceed to play ice hockey with Mr. Freeze's hockey stick-toting goons. Observant Batman fans might notice that being able to make things appear suddenly from the recesses of his body isn't Batman's power; it's Inspector Gadget's (or, failing that, Richard Gere's).
Elsewhere, BatClooney and Robin pull out Batsurfboards and surf down a building, which is actually more ridiculous than Bat-shark repellent, in that it actually manages to break the laws of physics with its brute idiocy.
Smoothness with the Ladies
BatClooney briefly engages in a competitive romantic rivalry with Robin over who gets to date Poison Ivy first, but since they're both under her love potion spell, it's hard to count. Otherwise, Batman & Robin seems more preoccupied with getting Robin some action with the newly arrived Batgirl than scoring anything for the Dark Knight. Lots of lonely nights home alone for BatClooney, it seems: No wonder he had the time to invent the Batskates.
BatClooney sees no problems whatsoever with suiting Chris O'Donnell and Alicia Silverstone up in benippled costumes and enlisting the idiots in his war on crime, despite the fact that no right-thinking person would trust Chris O'Donnell or Alicia Silverstone to lick stamps without turning purple and asphyxiating themselves.
See "Batnipples; casting smoldering looks at one another while having."