For over 80 years, Batman has evolved and changed while still being one of the biggest forces in pop culture. This week, Cracked is doing a deep dive into the Dark Knight.

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The newest Batman on the block, Robert Pattinson, famously took a lot of heat when it was announced that he would be donning the iconic cape and cowl, even despite the fact that he has appeared in some of the most interesting movies of the past ten years. He’s turned in acclaimed performances in films like Good Time, High Life, and The Lighthouse, but apparently, some fans will never be able to get past his work as Broody McVampire or as that Hogwarts jock who got sucker-spelled by Lord Voldemort’s buddy.

But this has nothing to do with Pattinson, it’s completely par for the Bat-course in this franchise. Most notoriously, when Michael Keaton, then best known for comedic performances such as in Mr. Mom, was first cast in the role, people went nuts. Decades before fans began a petition begging Warner Bros. to recast Pattinson, Toronto comic shop The Silver Snail launched a petition, a physical piece of paper with a bunch of signatures, insisting that the filmmakers were making a “mistake.” 

The petty complaints even permeated mainstream reporting; The Wall Street Journal ridiculed Keaton’s "less-than-heroic chin," and speculated that "The Caped Crusader may turn out to be a wimp." ​​A Warner Bros. publicist was even “booed and hissed” at a sci-fi convention in New Orleans. When Val Kilmer, and later George Clooney, were cast, Batman creator Bob Kane seemingly tried to stave off this avenue of fan rage by oddly claiming that Kilmer was “more handsome” than Keaton and Clooney “has a great profile and a strong chin.”

Even Christian Bale wasn’t immune to society's “this friggin’ guy?!” reaction that again came like clockwork; people moaned that choosing Bale was “worse casting than Kilmer” while the New York Times dedicated an entire article to how Bale, like Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man, was part of a new wave of “sensitive guys” dethroning “Hollywood’s He-Men.” And of course, when Ben Affleck got the job, social media was flooded with Matt Damon-based jokes and, you guessed it, a petition asking Warner Bros. to “Remove Ben Affleck as Batman/Bruce Wayne in the Superman/Batman movie.” So, really, we should never be surprised about this reaction ever again; generating a massive fan backlash is as intrinsic to the character as driving cool cars and luring women into dark caves.

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Top Image: Warner Bros.

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