1. Lewis G Wilson: Wilson was the first and youngest actor ever to play the adult Batman, and also the least successful. At 23, the unknown thespian donned the cape and the cowl in the 15-part 1943 Columbia serial Batman. While he looked the part of the dashing playboy, his physique was more Danny DeVito as the Penguin. One critic described Wilson as “thick about the middle.” Maybe that was why he wore his utility belt just below his chest. Critics also complained that his voice was too high and that he had a Boston accent. That, of course, wouldn’t be the last time someone complained about Batman’s voice.
2. Robert Lowrey: Lowery took over the role in the follow-up serial, 1949’s Batman And Robin. Unlike Lewis, Lowery, 36 at the time, was a veteran actor, having already appeared in The Mark Of Zorro (1940), The Mummy’s Ghost (1944) and Dangerous Passage (1944). He also filled out the Batsuit better than Lewis, with his utility belt hanging where you would expect it on a non-octogenarian.
3. Adam West: The man logging the most hours in the Batcave, of course, was William West Anderson, whom you probably know better as Adam West. Either you love him for his goofy charm or hate him for blemishing the Bat’s image for several decades. His campy, over-the-top portrayal of Gotham’s Guardian infiltrated nearly ever medium, including a 1966 movie and several animated series.
4. Michael Keaton: It took more than 20 years for Adam West to lose his exclusivity on Batman.When director Tim Burton (who like Dozier was not a fan of comic books) and Michael Keaton were announced for 1989’s Batman, fans went bat-shit crazy, thinking their beloved superhero was going to get the Adam West treatment again. Keaton’s casting caused such controversy that 50,000 protest letters were sent to Warner Bros’ offices. In an effort to appease the naysayers, Batman co-creator Bob Kane was hired as the film’s creative consultant.
5. Val Kilmer: When the Batman franchise was turned over to director Joel Schumacher, Keaton decided not to return. Daniel Day-Lewis, Ralph Fiennes, William Baldwin and Johnny Depp were reportedly considered as replacements. But the job was won by Val Kilmer – probably the most forgettable of the modern Batmen. Go ahead – try to remember. See? You can’t.
6. George Clooney: Clooney’s movie career was just taking off when he was cast in 1997’s Batman & Robin, with his breakthrough performance coming just the year before in Quentin Tarantino’s From Dusk Till Dawn. Producers probably felt they pulled off a major coup landing the soon-to-be mega-movie star. Those producers, along with Clooney, probably regret that decision now.
7. Christian Bale: Between Adam West and George Clooney, Batman seemed destined to remain a joke, at least when it came to live-action adaptations. Then came along Christopher Nolan. The Memento and Insomnia director was given the reins and he planned to reinvent the franchise, finally making the Dark Knight dark.
And the soon-to-be 8th Batman: Ben Affleck