Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, Bruce Wayne aka Batman has always been one of the world’s most popular superheroes. The DC character has appeared in numerous live-action films and TV shows over the decades. As such, a good number of talented actors have donned the black cape and cowl.
A total of twelve actors have played Bruce Wayne/Batman in live-action projects, but two will not make an entry in this list because they had no scenes that required stunts. These are Iain Glen (Titans) and Kevin Conroy (Batwoman). The following are the brave Batman actors and those that like to keep it safe.
10 Did His Own Stunts: Christian Bale
Bale had the honor of appearing in the best Batman movie ever made. As for the first and third installments in Nolan’s trilogy, the jury is still out there. During his time as Gotham’s billionaire vigilante, Bale performed most of the stunts himself.
In Batman Begins, he is reported to have performed 16 different fight scenes. The scene where he fights Liam Neeson’s Raʼs al Ghul on top of a lake was as real as it gets. Apparently, the two actors could even hear cracks, and the next day, the lake had melted. The only time Bale ever got help was during the car or bike chase scenes.
9 Never Risked It: Ben Affleck
Fans have been divided about Affleck’s portrayal of the caped crusader. Perhaps the actor himself thought he was done with the role. But Michael Corleone’s words in The Godfather: Part III best describe how he probably felt when he was brought back for The Snyder Cut and Flashpoint: “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.”
Affleck enjoys working out but he never did his own stunts. In fact, he reportedly got so ripped before Batman v Superman that he ended up having a larger physique than his stunt man Richard Cetrone.
8 Did His Own Stunts: Van Kilmer
The scene where the Caped Crusader fights Two-Face’s henchmen was one of the best scenes in Tim Burton’s Batman movies. And according to costume designer Bob Ringwood, the man doing the fighting is Kilmer, not a stunt double.
He said: “Val really worked hard on his body and martial arts. In fact, the first martial arts sequence you see in the movie, a bank job that Two-Face is trying to pull off, Val did almost if not all of everything you’re seeing, the kicks and everything – in the suit and the cape, which weights 40 or 50 pounds (about 20 kg).”
7 Never Risked It: George Clooney
Clooney was excited when he was called by the head of Warner Bros and told he was going to play Batman. It was his first blockbuster film but it ended up being a huge flop. The actor has stated that playing Batman is his biggest regret in life.
Before playing Bruce Wayne, Clooney was mostly known for his role as Dr. Douglas “Doug” Ross in ER. A doctor only needs to fight diseases and not people, so it’s understandable that Clooney had no idea how to do any kind of stunts. He thus had to rely on a stunt double for most of his scenes.
6 Did His Own Stunts: Michael Keaton
Michael Keaton’s performances as the Caped Crusader were received well by fans and critics. Thus it wasn’t surprising when it was announced that the actor would reprise his role in a multiverse storyline in the upcoming Flashpoint movie.
According to the 80s Rewind, Keaton got some help during his first outing as Batman, but in the second film, fight choreographer, Dave Lea got him more involved in the action scenes. The actor personally pulled off most of the movie’s amazing action scenes including the street fight with the Red Triangle Circus Gang.
5 Hasn’t Risked It: Robert Pattinson
Pattinson is the latest actor to don the cape. While his movie isn’t out yet, several reports from the set have leaked. A stunt man was recently spotted on top of Liverpool’s Royal Liver Building. And according to the Daily Mail, Pattinson’s stunt double was working overtime to film the fight scenes after the actor had tested positive for Coronavirus.
A darker version of the character is expected when the movie comes out. Several Hollywood stars including Christopher Nolan have expressed confidence in Pattinson, labeling him the best man for the job.
4 Did His Own Stunts: Robert Lowery
In Batman and Robin (1949), there is an iconic scene where Batman pulls up alongside a train in his convertible like he is Dominic Torretto in Fast Five (The Batmobile didn’t exist at this time). He then jumps from his car, climbs to the top of the train, and engages in fisticuffs with a couple of baddies.
It’s an impressive scene, even by today’s standards, and it was all made possible by Robert Lowery himself. Stunt doubles were only needed to shoot the scenes involving Robin and the villains.
3 Never Risked It: David Mazouz
Mazouz played a younger Bruce Wayne who was slowly morphing into Batman in Gotham. His general performances as Bruce were widely praised. The actor never got to wear the Batman suit in full (the hero was played by Mikhail Mudrik in the series finale) but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play Batman in the Arrowverse in the future.
During his time in Gotham, Mazouz had to rely on stunt doubles quite often. In 2014, he tweeted a picture of himself and his stunt double, captioning it: “So having a stunt double is cool… and weird.”
2 Did His Own Stunts: Lewis Wilson
Lewis Wilson was the first actor to play Batman on screen. He played the character in The Batman, a 1943 black-and-white theatrical serial. The villain happened to be a Japanese secret agent named Dr. Daka, who has never been in the comics. Sounds like Bond? Batman was also a secret US government agent.
Most of the stunts were basic, so Wilson didn’t really need a stunt double. He was able to do most of the work himself. Despite its ludicrous moments, the serial was widely popular in the ’40s.
1 Never Risked It: Adam West
Earlier portrayals of Batman might seem cartoonish by today’s standard but a lot of work was put into the performances. According to Burt Ward, who played Robin in the 1966 Batman TV series, the stunts were highly dangerous. The actor revealed that he found himself in the emergency room four times while filming the series.
Ward stated that the stunt double that was hired to help him didn’t look like him at all so he was dismissed. Thus Ward had to do his own stunts. Batman actor Adam West was lucky enough to have a capable stunt double who looked like him, so he didn’t have to go through all the trouble.
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