How can we possibly describe Christian Bale? Sure, you might say he's about six feet tall, dark-haired, talented and strikingly handsome, but would that really be sufficient? Would that provide adequate insight into the very essence of the man we know as Christian Bale? The answer is yes.
If we wanted to sum up Christian Bale in only one word, that word would be artist. Alternatively, person, or still broader, mammal. A former child actor born and raised in the highlands of some Welsh village without vowels, Bale first came to the world's attention when at age 13 he starred in Steven Spielberg's WW2 drama Empire of the Sun, after which he decided that fame was intolerably stressful and vowed never to act again. And he never did.
Until the early '90s, when he went on to star in a terrible song-and-dance Disney film about street urchins in New York entrenched in the cut-throat corporate quagmire that was the newspaper delivery business. One of the most catastrophic box-office failures in Disney's history, Newsies was the first film to develop a worldwide cult following after it was retrospectively decided that Christian Bale was some kind of Rumplestiltskin-like character who could weave movies into gold. (On Cracked: The 8 Manliest Musicals) It was the 1999 Wall Street satire American Psycho that began to cement Bale's reputation as some kind of goddamn acting freak.
Psycho director Mary Harron had an on-set nickname for Christian Bale - "Roboactor". Basically, he's like a cybernetic actbot from the future sent to save the world through flawless character portrayal (a role he would later be set to reprise in the fourth Terminator movie). Bale doesn't just portray characters on screen, he actually becomes them for the entire duration of a film's production and promotion. Still retaining his childhood distaste for the limelight, he rebels against the Hollywood tradition of making the most intimate detail of a screen actor's life a public affair. His general opinion of the celebrity tabloid media is something along the lines of "fuck that noise", and when he was cast in the role of Bruce Wayne in the 2005 Batman adaptation Batman Begins, not only did he have the nameplate on his trailer read "Bruce Wayne", but he went on to do all the promotion for the film in a goddamn American accent. Members of the cast and crew would later recall being shocked when Bale greeted them with an "Ello, guv!", having forgotten that his middle names are Charles Philip and he's as British as spotted dick. (On Cracked: Treason! 8 Celebrities You Won't Believe Aren't American)
Bale's obsessive dedication to perfection in his roles often inspires awe and, occasionally, terror within his colleagues. When he was cast as an emaciated insomniac in the 2004 thriller The Machinist and asked to lose a few pounds, Bale immediately began flirting with organ failure by consuming nothing but coffee and apples until he resembled an Earthly manifestation of death. Set to begin his role as ultra-muscular Batman only six months after Machinist finished filming, Bale rapidly packed on so much muscle that he overshot his goal by about forty pounds and was told by director Christopher Nolan to chill the fuck out. (On Cracked: Celebrity Ripped Club: 8 Non-Athletes Who've Gotta Be On Steroids)
Batman Begins was Bale's first venture into mainstream Hollywood success, and along with its sequels it's earning an offensive amount of money for the studio (it helps that most of the Bale/Batman fans need to buy multiple copies each after they keep ejaculating all over the DVDs). Many consider Christian Bale to be the best cast Batman in the history of Batmen (On Cracked: Bat Battle: Who's The Best Movie Batman?). Between that and his adult acting debut in American Psycho, he enjoyed a modest success in fairly obsure arthouse-type pictures and bit parts in more prominent and often terrible films. It would be a while before his frankly ridiculous dedication to his craft began to pay off. In the meantime, in the early years of 2000, he languished along as a supporting actor for more established leading men such as Nicolas Cage in Captain Corelli's Mandolin, which seems somewhat hilariously ironic now, sort of like when Al Pacino was a supporting actor for Keanu Reeves, or when a volleyball was a supporting actor for Tom Hanks. Most of Bale's movies during this period were dismal, embarrassing failures. From that silly movie where he battled dragons, to Equilibrium, a thinly-veiled ripoff of several mid-20th-Century dystopian satires, production company executives cried gently into their hands as they watched audiences trickle into the theatre and trickle out again with confused looks on their faces. Little did those executives know that a few years later they would be dancing upon Everest-scale mountains of money after Batman Begins converted Christian Bale's entire DVD back-catalogue into the lost treasure of Shangri-La.
Despite Christian Bale's frequent insistance that he is not interested in personally being the subject of fame and adoration, the internet has developed a frighteningly cult-like community of fans who call themselves "Baleheads" and gather on forums to discuss Christian Bale's hair and cheekbones and collaborate on letters to bombard him with although they don't really say anything. It's largely the internet fan machine that drove such screen failures as Equilibrium to posthumous blockbuster status, furthering the suspicion that only internet nerds can truly distinguish a quality film. (Counterpoint: The internet also made Snakes on a Plane a reality).
Equilibrium basically took Brave New World and 1984 and turned them into an action movie. Nobody really remembers the plot in any detail though because what the internet appreciates is that Christian Bale's character clocks up the third highest body count in film history. To achieve this, the writers invented the fictional martial art of "gun kata", by way of which Bale strikes a badass pose and everyone in the room falls down dead. (On Cracked: 5 Movie Fighting Styles Too Awesome to Actually Exist)
Recently Christian Bale went completely fucking mental at some guy who we can only assume deserved it. Someone recorded audio footage of Bale screaming at his Director of Photography for nearly five minutes on the set of his latest film about robots. That guy should feel lucky that Bale just yelled at him instead of simply decapitating him like he usually would. Also, as it is prone to do, the internet has created a funky remix of the incident, made by the guy who is producing RuPaul's new album (there's quality assurance right there).
In light of Bale's notorious temper, the internet has been on the edge of its collective seat since learning that the actor has been cast in David O. Russell's new movie. For those who don't recognise the name, Russell is the guy who directed the pretentious "existential comedy" I Heart Huckabees, which nobody saw all the way through. He's also the angriest, most obnoxious man who has ever lived, having inspired celebrities as inoffensive as George Clooney to take swings at him. Putting Bale and Russell together on one project is like storing a nuclear arsenal inside an active volcano, you know, for safekeeping.
The future holds even greater successes for Roboactor Bale. As well as the continuing adventures of Batman, Bale is slated to work with fellow internet-cult demigod Johnny Depp in Michael Mann's upcoming Depression-era gangster flick Public Enemies, as well as picking up the John Connor baton in Terminator Salvation, directed by... well, by McG. But the internet retains its reserved confidence. (Discuss Terminator Salvation on the Cracked forums)
According to scientific research, Christian Bale is almost exclusively cast as some kind of poor downtrodden underdog hero type who rises up against the man and kicks multitudes of ass. Occasionally, however, he plays a rich guy who rebels against the man and kicks multitudes of ass. Also he was Bob Dylan once.
Empire of the Sun - Look at adorable little baby Bale. In his debut to Hollywood fame and fortune, Bale starred in a Stephen Spielberg war epic in which he plays a young British youth in China struggling to adapt to the ruthless Japanese occupation. Because Stephen Spielberg only makes movies about war or aliens, but never both at the same time, Christian Bale does not fight aliens in this movie. But we can safely assume that if aliens had attacked, Bale would have kicked their asses.
Newsies - Bale went on to star in Disney's abysmal, embarrassing failure of a film about paperboys fighting against THE MAN. Of course, THE MAN wouldn't have messed with Christian Bale had they suspected he would grow up to be the goddamn Batman. (On Cracked: The 8 Manliest Musicals)
Pocahontas - Bale voiced the character of "Thomas" in the Disney version of the Pocahontas story. We at Cracked are too busy to watch cartoons, but we can only assume that this character was the most badass character in the entire pre-colonial Americas.
American Psycho - Bale played yuppie psychopath Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron's film adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis' satirical novel. Widely considered to be his definitive performance, Bale causes the violent death of hundreds of people. Just like in real life.
Mary, Mother of Jesus - That's right, Christian Bale played Jesus, narrowly winning the role over fellow contenders Islam Muhammadan and Jewy McHebrew. It was only a TV movie, but many people to this day maintain that the son of God is the role that best reflects the true nature of Christian Bale.
Shaft - Christian Bale was the villain in the 2000 Samuel L. Jackson vehicle Shaft. Christian Bale versus Samuel L. Jackson? Can that be the ultimate battle of all time? In the end, Jackson defeats Bale using the awesome power of the American litigation system.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin - In which Christian Bale duals for the affections of Penelope Cruz against Nicolas Cage. That's right, Hollywood wants you to believe there is a woman on Earth who would find it difficult to choose between Christian Bale and Nicolas Cage. That's like deciding between a two million dollar lottery prize and Nicolas Cage.
Reign of Fire - Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey both play sticky wads of sweat and hair in this movie about dragons destroying the Earth. Needless to say, Bale kicks the dragons' fucking asses.
Equilibrium - In which Christian Bale destroys pretty much an entire civilisation just by scowling at it and waving his arms around a whole bunch while shooting guns. (On Cracked: 5 Movie Fighting Styles Too Awesome to Actually Exist) This was before he played Batman, who famously detests guns, leading us to wonder which of these Christian Bales would win in a fight.
The Machinist - Christian Bale drastically reduced his body mass for this role by consuming nothing but coffee, apples and cigarettes, a departure from his usual diet of steak and terrorists. Even more notable than his dedication to acting is his dedication to such a terrible movie.
Howl's Moving Castle - Okay so Bale plays this sorcerer who lives in a giant mechanical castle that walks all over the countryside, and with the help of a little girl, a bouncing scarecrow and a talking bonfire voiced by Billy Crystal, he... wait a second, what the fuck? Oh that's right, it's an anime.
Batman Begins - A billionaire playboy dresses up in a bat costume every night to punch a clown and a psychiatrist in a hessian sack. Only Christian Bale could pull this off without it seeming ridiculous. George Clooney tried once, and we all remember how that turned out.
The New World - Christian Bale returns to the Pocahontas legend, presumably to kill everyone in New England who survived the last time.
Rescue Dawn - When you're making a movie about the only man to ever escape a Laotian prisoner camp during the Vietnam War, there's really only one man you can cast in the role. Well, possibly Bruce Willis also.
The Prestige - Batman fights Wolverine. It's like the ultimate epic battle of all time. Also, Batman and Wolverine are both old-timey magicians, and by "battle" we really mean they put on a bunch of old-timey magic shows and argue a lot. Also, David Bowie. Also, shut up.
3:10 to Yuma - Christian Bale has to teach outlaw Russell Crowe the power of love as he escorts him through the wild west to meet his execution date. Spoiler: Russel Crowe learns the power of love.
I'm Not There - Christian Bale plays Bob Dylan in this arthouse film that also stars Heath Ledger as Bob Dylan, Ben Whishaw as Bob Dylan, Richard Gere as Bob Dylan, Cate Blanchett as Bob Dylan, and a small black child as Bob Dylan. Did we mention this is an arthouse film?
Christian Bale carried on a strange sort of rivalry with Leonardo DiCaprio in the late '90s. Shortlisted for the leading role in Titanic, Bale was ultimately overlooked because of his nationality, even though he could act American like nobody's business. A couple of years later, the situation was reversed in the casting for American Psycho, which was originally going to be an Oliver Stone film starring DiCaprio, and we can probably all agree that would have been a very, very different movie.
Bale was almost James Bond when the time came to cast for Casino Royale, and was almost George W. Bush when Oliver Stone set out to cast his not-quite-serious-but-not-quite-parody screen biopic of the 43rd US President. Even considering Bale's acting chops, we admit we have trouble envisioning either of those.
In a brazen display of defiance against celebrity culture, Christian Bale hid the name of his newborn daughter from the tabloids, rather than take the opportunity to sell the story rights to the highest bidder. This might be because Bale was embarrassed by his lack of imagination in the art of Celebrity Baby Names. It was later revealed that he called his kid Emmeline, missing a golden opportunity to bring Harlequin Godpuncher Darth Batman Kazoo Bale III into the world.