Michael Keaton VS Christian Bale VS Robert Pattinson as Batman
VOICE OVER: Robert Flis
WRITTEN BY: Saim Cheeda
It's Batman vs. The Dark Knight vs. The Batman! In this installment of Versus we are going blow for blow with Michael Keaton Vs Christian Bale VS Robert Pattinson as Batman. We're evaluating a wide-range of categories to determine the number one Dark Knight, and we're considering a lot more than just who would win in a fight.
Michael Keaton Vs Christian Bale VS Robert Pattinson as Batman
Welcome to WatchMojo and in this installment of Versus we are going blow for blow with Michael Keaton Vs Christian Bale VS Robert Pattinson as Batman.
We’re evaluating a wide-range of categories to determine the number one Dark Night, and we’re considering a lot more than just who would win in a fight.
Which Dark Night would you swear to? Let us know in the comments.
Round 1: Detective Skills
Batman’s known as the world’s greatest detective, which wasn’t adapted completely in Keaton’s version. His Batman is more perceptive, capable of reading people on his own and completing his investigations by finding flaws in his enemies. Since Keaton’s villains were more open about their evil activities, his Batman wasn’t required to rely on gadgetry to uncover clues. As far as intuition and doing background checks is considered, nothing really goes by this Batman, who was able to figure out every villain’s true identity with his methods.
Christian Bale’s Batman isn’t the most insightful when it comes to understanding the bad guys. He needs Alfred’s guidance to get under the skin of his enemies, which forms part of his character’s arc to learn the difference between bad and true evil. His detective work is more technology-driven, picking apart crime scenes and pieces of evidence to track down the whereabouts of his targets. Bale’s Batman also makes heavy use of interrogation tactics, striking fear into thugs in his capture to make them rat out information that he needs.
Of all the live-action “Batman” movies, Matt Reeves’ reboot comes the closest to a classic detective story. This allows Robert Pattinson to delve deeper into Batman’s crime-solving and deduction skills. Like Sherlock Holmes, he’s always a step ahead of the other authority figures. Of course, the Riddler is two steps ahead of everybody. Being younger, Pattinson’s Batman is still figuring himself out and is thus susceptible to overlooking certain clues. Whenever presented with a crime scene, though, this hardboiled detective is bound to catch details that others tend to miss.
Keaton’s Batman puts less emphasis on the detective angle and Bale’s Batman relies heavily on gadgets to do the hard work. Pattison is arguably the first live-action Batman who feels like equal parts vigilante and detective, giving him the edge here. Round One goes to the newest Batman.
Keaton 0 / Bale 0 / Pattinson 1
Round 2: Squad
Michael Keaton’s Batman was always more of a lone wolf, who could trust no one apart from Alfred. Although he has an alliance with James Gordon, their relationship is never close enough for Batman to implicitly trust Gordon with his secrets. Keaton’s Batman doesn’t get around to meeting any version of Robin, and Catwoman, his closest superhero ally, is more of a femme fatale than a true companion. Keaton’s Batman mastered the superhero’s isolation so well that he never gets around to truly having a squad around him.
Christian Bale’s Batman realizes that being a symbol can only get him so far. He needs people he can trust. His relationship with Alfred goes deeper than a father-son dynamic would, with Alfred providing much-needed guidance and insight. Lucius Fox provides him with intel and gadgets, which are instrumental in overcoming Gotham’s criminals and even the authorities. His partnership with Jim Gordon proves that vigilantism can work with a helping hand in the justice system. Batman’s influence is established when John Blake becomes his protege, leading the public in Batman’s name and becoming his successor.
In “The Batman,” GCPD is overrun with corruption and even the honest cops have reservations about vigilantes. Gordon is the only Gotham cop that Pattinson’s Batman wholeheartedly trusts. Their partnership is a two-way street, as Gordon shares evidence without batting an eye. Alfred is grittier than some past portrayals, but he still has a strong sense of class and shares Bruce’s knack for puzzle-solving. While both seek vengeance, Catwoman is more open to getting blood on her claws than Batman. This gives their dynamic a wild card factor, possessing echoes of a spy thriller.
Keaton’s squad is limited and Pattinson is still assembling his. Bale’s Batman is perhaps the most reliant on his allies, who all bring something to the table. This round goes to Bale.
Keaton 0 / Bale 1 / Pattinson 1
Round 3: Batmobile/Batsuit
It’s hard to go wrong when the Batmobile looks so accurate to the source material, and Keaton’s Batmobile is a thing of beauty. It has a gothic aesthetic that evokes the mysteriousness of Batman’s persona and brings an intimidating presence as well. The Batmobile doesn’t have too many gadgets, but it can be operated remotely, making it loyal to Batman’s demands as his armor on wheels. Capable of shifting shapes to accommodate passageways that would otherwise be impossible to maneuver, Keaton’s Batmobile could turn into a “Batmissile” to guarantee speedy retreats.
Christian Bale’s Batmobile goes for a realistic approach, in that it’s created to maul things out of Batman’s way rather than function as a true vehicle. The Tumbler, as it’s called, is essentially a mini-tank, equipped with things like rocket launchers, machine guns, and mines. While it’s a beast in its own right, the Batmobile doesn’t align with Batman’s attitude of staying in the shadows. Still, there’s no doubt that it captures the attention and leaves no doubt of Batman’s arsenal of weaponry.
Unlike Keaton or Bale, Pattinson is rarely seen out of his Batsuit. Pattison’s Batman feels more comfortable dressed as a bat than in a tuxedo. However, he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of flying. While advanced, his Batsuit almost has a homemade quality that comes off as more grounded. The same goes for his Batmobile, which Reeves described as a “muscle car” with parts taken from other automobiles. This Batmobile looks like something that a grease monkey might assemble in their garage. Yet, it still possesses a mysterious, powerful allure that screams, “I’m Batman.”
While Bale and Pattinson’s goodies are more realistic, Keaton’s have a classic aesthetic that can’t be topped. Whenever we see his batsuit and batmobile, we say, “Yeah, that’s Batman!” Winner, Keaton.
Keaton 1 / Bale 1 / Pattinson 1
Round 4: Character Development
Michael Keaton’s Batman is the classic Bruce Wayne, capturing the character’s silent demeanor, low raspy voice, and the scything glare Bruce carries in his eyes. His version starts out not wanting anything to do with the outside world before realizing that creating meaningful relationships can remove the darkness that’s captured his soul since his parents’ demise. His relationship with Catwoman serves as Batman’s leap toward showing his vulnerability, although this goes unresolved in the end. Keaton’s Batman overcomes his childhood trauma to an extent to become the Caped Crusader out of responsibility instead of anger as he originally started out.
Christian Bale’s Batman’s arc surrounds the idea of Bruce Wayne being the mask and Batman the real identity. His Bruce Wayne is a little uneven, sometimes being a bit more on the joking side which clashes with his deep sense of isolation and conflict with the world’s morality. Still, Bale has an original take where he genuinely understands that Batman is an instrument for change and that he needs to influence the people to fight corruption. He goes from an angry young man initially willing to kill into a person who’s truly incorruptible and never crosses moral boundaries. Bale’s version learns to live for himself by the end of his arc, signifying that he’s achieved the peace that seemed elusive since he witnessed his parents’ deaths.
“The Batman” doesn’t dwell on the origin story we already know. When Pattinson’s Batman sees a little boy who’s lost his father, you know exactly what he’s thinking based on a remorseful glance. We don’t get to spend that much time with Bruce Wayne, which demonstrates just how isolated Pattinson’s Batman is. Although a skilled detective and warrior, he still has a lot to learn about himself. He’s Gotham’s sworn protector, but can be reckless with his own well-being. While his arc isn’t complete yet, Pattinson’s Batman takes significant steps towards letting others in and figuring out what kind of example he wants to set for Gotham.
Keaton’s time as Batman was cut short, although he may continue his story in satisfying ways with “The Flash.” Pattinson is off to a great start, but we’ve yet to fully explore his Dark Knight. Bale benefits from having three movies under his belt with each taking Batman to different places. Bale’s Batman thus feels the most developed, at least for now. Point, Bale.
Keaton 1 / Bale 2 / Pattinson 1
Round 5: Best Debut
Michael Keaton’s “Batman” set the standard for superhero movies with thematic qualities like diving into the protagonist’s inner darkness along with creating Gotham City with a distinct set design. Keaton’s debut brings in Batman’s biggest foe, The Joker whom the Caped Crusader has to defeat, but has the side effect of focusing more on the villain rather than its hero's full backstory. Keaton’s second movie is largely considered superior to the first since it adds in more layers to his character, while the original is best remembered for establishing Batman’s role as Gotham’s protector.
Christopher Nolan revamped the “Batman” franchise by making the fear factor of the title character the main selling point. Bale’s debut story is about Bruce Wayne weeding out corruption in Gotham City after becoming Batman, fighting off the threats posed by Scarecrow and his former mentor, Ra’as Al Ghul. “Batman Begins” takes a serious and mature course that shows what a nightmare Batman can be for the bad guys, along with being Bruce’s coming-of-age story. Still, it tends to go under the radar because of the massive cultural impact set by its sequel, “The Dark Knight.”
Reeves’ “The Batman” exists somewhere between Nolan’s realism and Burton’s surrealism while still having a unique identity. Given the detective emphasis, this “Batman” shares the most in common with a film noir, right down to Batman’s dramatic narration. It even has the ingredients of a psychological crime thriller, calling “Seven” and “Zodiac” to mind. Pattinson’s age also provides a younger perspective as we see a more inexperienced Batman come into his own. Time will only tell if the film changes cinema like its predecessors did, but Reeves proves that there are many more “Batman” stories worth telling.
The impact of Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Begins” can still be felt today, even in “The Batman.” Where Burton paved the way for darker superhero movies, Nolan made the genre more sophisticated and grounded. Nolan took this a step further with his next “Batman” film, but we wouldn’t have gotten there without Bale’s debut. This round belongs to Bale, who takes the whole bat-nanza.
Keaton 1 / Bale 3 / Pattinson 1