Though Batman is an iconic comic book superhero, he is often defined by those who have played him on the big and small screen. While other actors picked up the cowl early on, the first real person to be identified with Bruce Wayne was Adam West in the campy 1960s TV show. His take was a little goofy, and full of humor. It wasn't until Michael Keaton took over the role in 1989's Tim Burton classic that audiences started to take this dark vigilante seriously, and the role helped redefine both the superhero genre and Keaton as an actor. While a few others have put on the suit since then, Michael Keaton himself still has strong feelings about his role in the evolution of the Dark Knight. But he is not intimidated by any newcomers who arrive, ready to offer their own take on Batman.
In a recent interview, Christian Bale, who famously played the caped crusader in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, was asked if he was jealous of Ben Affleck taking over the character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He claimed he was, actually, stating: "I stopped and stared into nothing for an hour." In an interview with ShortList, Michael Keaton was asked the same qustion, and he had a very different response:
"No. Do you know why? Because I'm Batman. I'm very secure in that."
The actor then went onto discuss how Tim Burton changed the comic book genre, making it easier for other actors to come in and do their job:
"Tim changed, or started, everything. And I'm proud of the choice I made, in terms of how to play Batman. It's probably easier now because Tim paved the way, and if I did anything to pave the way, I'm proud of that, too.You can step into it more easily now, is my guess. Technically, [superhero movies] do everything for you. They create a world where all you've basically got to do is show up, not f*ck it up too much and you'll come off OK."
There is no need to ask George Clooney or Val Kilmer their opinions, as they've stated multiple times that they are both sort of embarrassed by what they did with the Batman character. And there is no denying that, for a whole generation of fans who grew up in the 80s, Michael Keaton is indeed Batman.