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Robert Pattinson Vs. Christian Bale: Here's Who Played The Better Batman

The Dark Knight has been played by so many actors at this point that you would be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn't have some sort of ranking for the collection of actors and their respective portrayals. It used to be that a favorite Batman could be separated by generation, a running joke brought to the silver screen by Zac Efron and Seth Rogen in 2014's "Neighbors," where the two discuss their respective Batman actors, Michael Keaton and Christian Bale.

Comic book adaptations are nowhere near as sparse as they once were, though, and that leaves us with portrayals of characters like Batman that nearly pile on top of each other. It's now more apt to compare Batman performances based on intention and tone than anything else, especially when you consider the thematic valleys between, say, George Clooney in "Batman & Robin" and Ben Affleck in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." Some of the performances, however, are easy to compare, arguably the two closest being Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson.

Bale portrayed Batman in Christopher Nolan's famed "Dark Knight" trilogy, from 2005 to 2012, while Robert Pattinson debuted his version of the caped crusader in this year's "The Batman," directed by Matt Reeves. Both depictions of Batman examine the early years of the vigilante through a lens far more grounded in reality than other more fantastical comic book movies. But which actor do fans think did a better job bringing a darker Dark Knight to life?

Bale redefined Batman

Director Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" became one of the most critically acclaimed comic book films ever when it was released in 2005, winning near-universal praise from both critics and fans (via Rotten Tomatoes). Late critic Roger Ebert hailed Christian Bale as "just right for this emerging version of Batman" in his four-star review of the trilogy starter.

Fans have continued to show support for Bale, with the actor even being voted the best Batman in a poll this year from GameSpot. Out of more than 290,000 votes, Bale received 66% of the support as the best Batman against competitors Ben Affleck, Adam West, and Michael Keaton. "Bale's Batman had a proper beginning, middle and end," u/rwt93 wrote on Reddit, calling Bale's Batman "the most fleshed[-]out portrayal so far." Redditor u/Magskanata noted that Bale is "THE batman to a lot of young people" thanks to taking part in the most successful "Batman" movies of the last two decades.

One complaint that continues to be lodged at Bale is his voice as Batman, which some fans say got groggier and indecipherable as Nolan's trilogy went on. In a poll on the r/DC_Cinematic subreddit, Bale's Batman voice was actually voted the second best after Affleck's (who used a voice modulator), but critics still can't help but poke fun at the now infamous growl. "I love 'The Dark Knight' but after the jokes and memes I can not [sic] take that voice seriously anymore," u/IamAturtleBoi responded.

Robert Pattinson grounded Batman once again

While Ben Affleck's Batman portrayal was appropriately dark following the Christian Bale "Dark Knight" trilogy, director Zack Snyder embraced the more mythic and fantastical elements of the DC universe that Christopher Nolan shied away from. Robert Pattinson's Batman performance in Matt Reeves' "The Batman" marks a cinematic return to the gritty alleyways and crime-infested streets of Gotham City for a more grounded, evolving caped crusader.

While Nolan's "The Dark Knight" is the high mark for many fans regarding "Batman" movies, some are already declaring Robert Pattinson and "The Batman" superior after the film was only just released. "I'm gonna say it, this movie is better than '[T]he [D]ark [K]night.' Please don't kill me," u/Scudmissles declared to other Batman followers on Reddit. Redditor u/Affectionate-Cat6515 added that not only is Reeves' "The Batman" the best Dark Knight adventure but also that Pattinson is "the best Batman."

Like Bale, Pattinson has also won over critics, with "The Batman" currently standing at an 85% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critic Christy Lemire drew comparisons to Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver" in her review for RogerEbert.com. "This is Travis Bickle in the Batsuit, detached and disillusioned," Lemire wrote of Pattinson, an actor she described as "not just prepared but hungry to explore this figure's weird, dark instincts."

Pattinson's Batman voice also hasn't inspired too many complaints thus far. He even came in third place in a recent Reddit poll comparing Batman voices, though he was trailing Ben Affleck and Bale.

Christian Bale remains the top Batman

There is plenty to compare when looking at the performances of Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson in their respective "Batman" projects. Both actors turned to edgy adaptations of the character after careers building respectable performances in challenging pieces, Bale in movies like "American Psycho" and Pattinson more recently with indie films such as "The Lighthouse." Both have also earned similar praise for their debut portrayals of Batman, a character each shows as a brooding figure at the beginning of a journey of possible addiction to his vigilante persona.

Between the two, however, Bale is the favorite. This may not always be the case, but with three highly praised movies under his belt, Bale has earned more faith with audiences. Next to the recent GameSpot poll crowning Bale as the fans' favorite by a wide margin, there is also a 2020 survey similarly finding Bale on the top of the Batman heap (via Radio Times). While "The Batman" has earned plenty of praise too, Bale's movies remain more universally liked, with "The Dark Knight" touching 94% with critics and audiences alike on Rotten Tomatoes. Even "The Dark Knight Rises" earned higher marks with critics than "The Batman" (via Rotten Tomatoes).

While Pattinson has not dethroned Bale, it should be noted that "The Batman" is only his first film, and he hasn't been included in many public polls. If the reviews are any indication, though, Pattinson could soon be replacing Bale for many as their preferred Dark Knight.