The debate as to who made the best on-screen Batman is sure to rage on long after the human race has been and gone, but a recent poll has gone some way to settling it, with The Dark Knight star, Christian Bale, taking the top spot. Securing a massive 42 percent of the votes, Bale is far and away many people's choice for the greatest iteration of the DC icon.

"The Dark Knight rises! After starring in Christopher Nolan's acclaimed bat-trilogy and reinventing the character for a new generation, it's no surprise that Christian Bale is still fans' favourite version of the Caped Crusader eight years after he left the role."
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Carried out by the Radio Times, Bale was followed by small screen Batman, Adam West, who came in second with 14 percent, while Batman Returns star Michael Keaton narrowly came third with 13 percent. The most recent take on the Dark Knight, played by Ben Affleck, came in fourth, followed by Kevin Conroy and Will Arnett, who have both voiced the character in animated form, with Batman Forever's Val Kilmer and Batman and Robin star George Clooney sat at the bottom of the table.

Christian Bale played the beloved superhero a total of three times throughout director Chrisopher Nolan's seminal trilogy. Beginning in 2005's Batman Begins, followed by the highly acclaimed The Dark Knight in 2008, Bale ended his Batman career in the blockbuster finale The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. Bale's take on the Dark Knight is different to anything that came before, with the actor giving distinct personalities to the three versions of Bruce Wayne; the vigilante crime-fighter, the happy-go-lucky playboy, and finally the real Bruce that only Alfred and Lucius Fox ever really see.

Bale's grounded take on the tortured superhero anchors Nolan's vision of a "realistic" comic book world, and while Heath Ledger's show-stealing portrayal of the Joker and Tom Hardy's portrayal of Bane tend to be given the most attention, the importance of Bale's assured, understated performance to the trilogy cannot be overlooked.

The most surprising result from the recent poll is Affleck's position, as many fans now consider his world-weary, more brutal take on the character to be the stand-out. Despite the movie's he has appeared in being sub-par, Batman fans responded very favourably to Affleck's portrayal, with many hoping that he will return in his own project in the near future. Both he and Michael Keaton will both don the armor once again for The Flash in 2022, which will introduce audiences to the DC multiverse.

While Bale may have hung up the cape and cowl, he has influenced the future Batman, with the actor recently advising The Batman's Robert Pattinson on a very important part of the famous superhero suit. "One of the big things that Rob actually talked to Christian Bale, and [Bale said], 'just make sure you're going to be able to relieve yourself,' so that was actually part of what was important to build into it," The Batman director Matt Reeves revealed. "Like okay, he needs to be able to put it on. He also needs to be able to live as a human being."

The casting of Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in Matt Reeves' upcoming movie The Batman caught many by surprise. Reeves though could not be more confident in his choice, and has previously praised Pattinson, explaining that it was not just Pattinson's acting talent that drew him to the actor, but their shared passion for the Batman mythology as well. "[Robert has] been working on his craft in this really incredible way, and he also happens to be a tremendous, passionate sort of fan of Batman that way that I am and so... it was an incredible thing to be able to connect with him and to share the excitement about the character and to work with him," Reeves said. "I mean, you know, he looks like Batman but more than anything, he has the soul of someone I think can play a Batman like you'd never seen before."

While a large portion of fans had despised the idea of the Twilight actor taking on the role of their favorite comic book character, the recent trailer for The Batman, which ends with Pattinson viciously beating a nameless thug to a pulp, successfully won them over, with many now thinking that Pattinson could be the best Batman ever put to screen.

The Batman has been described by the movie's director as a "noir-driven" story that picks up with Bruce Wayne around two years into his crime-fighting career. A young Bruce Wayne has become disheartened by the lack of impact he is having on crime in Gotham, when suddenly a series of murders occur at the hands of The Riddler. Lead down a path that will reveal dark secrets about his parents, Bruce is forced to confront the corruption going on in the shadows of his city, all while trying to catch The Riddler before he kills again.

Despite only recently returning to filming following a forced hiatus, production on The Batman has come brought to a halt once again due to lead actor Robert Pattinson testing positive for COVID-19. WarnerMedia Studios & Networks head Ann Sarnoff provided a statement at the time saying, "We're still in the middle of investigating what is the situation. We're pausing temporarily for now until we have more information, but we have all the protocols set up to do contact tracing and hopefully get back up into production very soon."

Alongside Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the rest of cast includes the likes of Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as Riddler, Colin Farrell as Penguin, Andy Serkis as Alfred Pennyworth, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone, Peter Sarsgaard as Gil Colson and Jeffery Wright as Commissioner Gordon. The Batman is currently scheduled to be released on October 1, 2021.

Bale meanwhile has not completely turned his back on the comic book genre, with the Oscar winning actor due to swap sides in more ways than one and play the villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universes upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder. These results come to us courtesy of Radio Times.

Jon Fuge at Movieweb
Jon Fuge