Batman actors in order: Every actor who’s ever played Batman in the movies

Michael Keaton on the set of "Batman". (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)
Michael Keaton on the set of "Batman". (Photo by Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Batman is a constant of cinema, appearing in over 10 movies. Here are all of the actors to play The Dark Knight in order.

Detective Comics’ Dark Knight is arguably the most popular cinematic character of all time. That’s right, even though the Caped Crusader was originated in the pages of DC comic books (debuting back in 1939), he ascended to new heights through a multitude of appearances on the silver screen.

After a four year hiatus from the movies, the character returned in Matt Reeves’ The Batman in 2022. The movie kicked off a new chapter for the iconic comic book superhero and set the stage for two more movies for the character (and TV spinoffs) in that particular universe. Meanwhile, a new actor will take on the role in the DC Universe’s The Brave and the Bold.

As with every superhero movie, there is a lot of intrigue around the actor playing him. But the DCU’s new actor and The Batman‘s Robert Pattinson aren’t the first to put on the cape and cowl on the cinema screen – and they likely won’t be the last.

With that in mind, let’s take this opportunity to reflect on every actor to ever don the mantle of the Bat in a live-action picture on the big screen.

Batman actors in order

Lewis Wilson

  • Appeared in: Batman (1943)

The very first live-action version of the Dark Knight came in the 1943 Batman movie serial and he was portrayed by Lewis Wilson. Wilson played the role in all 15 chapters as the Caped Crusader and Robin (portrayed by Douglas Croft) swung onto the big screen for the very first time.

I wonder if they knew then that they were making some cinematic history. Regardless, they were successful in doing so, as the serial was so successful that it spawned a sequel serial years later. Wilson, however, did not reprise the role.

Robert Lowery

  • Appeared inBatman and Robin (1949)

Robert Lowery succeeded Wilson as the Caped Crusader in the follow-up serial, which was released in movie theaters in 1949. Titled Batman and Robin, this one saw the Dynamic Duo take on the mysterious entity known as The Wizard.

It’s unclear why Wilson and Croft were recast (John Duncan played the role of Robin in the second serial), but the 15-chapter serial proved successful. Both have since been released on home video, and Turner Classic Movies have broadcast the 1949 outing twice in the past decade.

Batman, Adam West
Kino. Batman: The Movie, aka: Batman hält die Welt in Atem, USA, 1967, Regie: Leslie H. Martinson, Darsteller: Adam West. (Photo by FilmPublicityArchive/United Archives via Getty Images) /

Adam West

  • Appeared in: Batman (1966 – 1968), Batman: The Movie (1966)

Few actors are as associated with the role of The World’s Greatest Detective as Adam West. Known for starring alongside Burt Ward’s Robin in the legendary Batman TV series, which ran for three seasons between 1966 and 1968, his performance turned the character into a household name and has gone down in history as one of the best interpretations of the Caped Crusader.

West played the outlandishly campy role incredibly straight, earning his place in the character’s story as one of the very best to ever don the cape and cowl. He and Ward also got the chance to take the Dynamic Duo to the silver screen in the form of a theatrical spin-off in 1966. West returned as Bruce Wayne and his heroic alter-ego, bringing all the fun and colors from his small screen adventures to the big one.

Batman, Batman actors in order, Michael Keaton in Batman Returns
American actor Michael Keaton on the set of Batman Returns, directed by Tim Bruton. (Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Michael Keaton

  • Appeared in: Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), The Flash (2023), Batgirl (unreleased)

Michael Keaton was the first to bring the modern day Dark Knight to movie theaters in Tim Burton’s Gothic Batman. A divisive choice at first given that he was known for his comedic performances, Keaton allowed his somber performance to do the talking, and has since become the measuring stick for The Dark Knight’s live-action outings.

After the success of that franchise-starter, it should come as no surprise to learn that he reprised his role as the Caped Crusader in Batman Returns, facing off against Danny DeVito’s Penguin, Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman and Christopher Walken’s Max Shreck.

In 2023, Keaton joined Christian Bale as the only two actors to headline three movies as The Dark Knight when he reprised the role in The Flash. With three decades between the DCEU film and the previous time he played the role in Batman Returns, he has made more history as the actor with the longest amount of time between performances in a comic book role.

He was set to return for another appearance in Batgirl (shooting multiple scenes for the movie) before Warner Bros. Discovery cancelled the movie.

Batman, Batman Forever
Photo: Batman Forever.. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. / DC Universe /

Val Kilmer

  • Appeared in: Batman Forever (1995)

Val Kilmer portrayed the titular character in 1995’s Batman Forever. The movie was directed by Joel Schumacher, with Kilmer stepping in to replace Michael Keaton when he departed the franchise after learning of its new, lighter direction.

Kilmer is often seen as one of the most underrated actors to play the character. The movie itself wasn’t as well-received as its predecessors but there was a lot to love about it. Unfortunately, the reputation of its successor has overshadowed that. Nevertheless, Kilmer was a convincing Dark Knight and a great Bruce Wayne.

Batman, Batman and Robin, Batman Day
Batman and Robin. Image Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment, HBO Max /

George Clooney

  • Appeared in: Batman and Robin (1997), The Flash (2023)

While director Joel Schumacher returned to direct another installment in the film franchise, Val Kilmer did not. As a result, George Clooney took over the role, bringing the Caped Crusader to life in 1997’s Batman & Robin.

Clooney’s performance was one of the many things heavily criticized in the reviled movie, with fans often seeing him as the worst Batman. There is definitely a charm in his light-hearted performance and it’s hard to blame him directly as the script was the big problem with the movie, but he wasn’t exactly the Dark Knight he could have been (even if his Bruce Wayne was pretty good).

He made a surprise cameo in The Flash 26 years later when that very Bruce Wayne showed up as the result of Barry Allen’s timeline-meddling.

Batman, The Dark Knight, The Flash, The Dark Knight Rises
PITTSBURGH – JULY 31: Christian Bale stands in between scenes during the filming of the new Batman: Dark Knight Rises movie at the Mellon Institute building in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Oakland on July 31, 2011. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /

Christian Bale

  • Appeared in: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

When Christopher Nolan was tasked with rebooting the franchise in 2005’s Batman Begins, Christian Bale was the one to put on the mask. In the process, the pair triumphantly revived the character’s on-screen series, launching a new film series that would eventually be known as The Dark Knight trilogy.

Bale then reprised his role in 2008’s The Dark Knight, re-teaming with Christopher Nolan in a movie that received critical acclaim upon its release and has since gained a reputation as one of the greatest comic book adaptations – and greatest movies in general – ever made. His performance was acclaimed, with many believing that it cemented him as the greatest to ever don the cape and cowl.

Three years later, he returned to bring the World’s Greatest Detective to life one more time in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. This time, he went up against the deadly Bane in what was an epic closing chapter to one of Hollywood’s greatest ever movie trilogies.

The Flash, Batman, Ben Affleck, DCEU, Is Ben Affleck returning as Batman, Is Ben Affleck still Batman, Why Ben Affleck stopped being Batman, Aquaman, Snyderverse, Is Ben Affleck still Batman?, Batman actors in order
Ben Affleck (Batman / Bruce Wayne) in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Photograph by Courtesy of HBO Max /

Ben Affleck

  • Appeared in: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League (2017), Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), The Flash (2023)

After a four-year break from the silver screen, the Dark Knight returned in a brand new franchise. Ben Affleck was the actor chosen to bring him to life this time, debuting in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as he squared off against Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel to launch the DC Extended Universe (DCEU).

He reprised his role as the DCEU’s Dark Knight soon afterwards, appearing in 2016’s Suicide Squad and making three brief cameo appearances throughout the film. He then returned in a significant capacity in the DCEU’s long-awaited Justice League. The theatrical edition was reviled by audiences, eventually leading to the streaming release of the far superior Zack Snyder’s Justice League in 2021. Affleck did return to shoot some new scenes before the heavily-anticipated director’s cut was released.

He made one final theatrical appearance as the character in The Flash in a supporting role.

The Batman, The Batman age rating, Is The Batman rated R? - Robert Pattinson
ROBERT PATTINSON as Batman in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “THE BATMAN,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo: Jonathan Olley/™ & © DC Comics. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Robert Pattinson

  • Appeared in: The Batman (2022)

Robert Pattinson took over the iconic role of Bruce Wayne in The Batman. Originally planned as a DCEU film with Affleck reprising his role, the Matt Reeves movie is a standalone project set to build its own shared universe, consisting of two sequels and at least two HBO Max spin-off shows.

Pattinson’s performance has been praised by fans and critics, with his name already being tossed around in conversations about the greatest on-screen Batmen. He will get the chance to impress audiences all over again when he reprises the role in The Batman – Part II in 2025.

As well as that, a new actor will take on the role in James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Universe, appearing in the Andy Muschietti-directed movie The Brave and the Bold. They will replace Ben Affleck as the DCU’s full-time Batman going forward.

Next. All 13 Batman movies ranked from worst to best. dark