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Holy Rankings, Batman!

June 20 marks the 20th anniversary of the film that almost killed the entire genre: 'Batman & Robin'

  • Ranking The Batmans
    Mary Evans Picture Library/Everett Collection


    Infamous for its hokey jokes and clichés, Batman & Robin’s a memorable film — but one George Clooney might wish we’d forget. How does his performance as Batman stack up against those of the other caped crusaders in film history?

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  • Ranking The Batmans
    Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

    George Clooney, Batman & Robin (1997): Total Disaster

    Along with the rest of the cast (including a cringeworthy Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze), George Clooney seems like he’s spoofing his own movie, telling tons of jokes and landing none of them. No wonder Warner Bros. canceled a planned sequel.

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  • Ranking The Batmans
    WARNER BROS/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

    Val Kilmer, Batman Forever (1995): Loud and Boring

    He tries yet can’t bring a convincing performance to the screen, leaving the film’s few exciting moments to Jim Carrey’s Riddler. But Van Kilmer can’t be blamed for the awful costume design that left him with the now-infamous bat nipples on his suit.

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  • Ranking The Batmans

    Ben Affleck, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016): One-Note Grimness

    Ben Affleck meanders through the titanic destruction of Gotham City that transpires in his fight with Henry Cavill’s Superman. We hope Ben shows more enthusiasm in Justice League, out this November.

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  • Ranking Batmans

    Christian Bale, The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–12): Gritty and Thrilling

    His showdowns with villains (such as Heath Ledger’s Joker) are riveting and memorable in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. But we’re docking some points for Christian Bale’s in-suit speaking voice: a piercing, awful growl.

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  • Ranking The Batmans
    20thCentFox/Courtesy Everett Collection

    Adam West, Batman: The Movie (1966): Bat-Tastic

    Continuing his role from the TV series, Adam West brings healthy campiness — plus a plethora of onomatopoeia and bat-related puns — to this wholly enjoyable film. His chemistry with Burt Ward as Robin is the best of all the dynamic duos.

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  • Ranking The Batmans

    Michael Keaton, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992): Tough and Relentless

    His valiant, resolute Bruce Wayne ably matches up with Jack Nicholson’s crazed and chaotic Joker. Michael Keaton’s performance is well-rounded and gives an emotional weight to the two best Batman films of them all. 

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