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Robert Pattinson Vs. Michael Keaton: Here's Who Played The Better Batman

This article contains spoilers for "The Batman." Reader beware!

A staple of DC Comics' roster of heroes for well over 80 years, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who isn't at least aware of Batman. Debuting in "Detective Comics" #27, the character has gone on to become nothing short of a pop culture phenomenon. Not only has he starred in countless comic book storylines of his own and appeared in those of others, but he has become an icon in video games and animation too. Of course, he's probably best known for making the jump to the big screen in live-action.

The Caped Crusader's cinematic tenure began way back in 1943, courtesy of actor Lewis Wilson, paving the way for numerous thespians to don the cowl in the decades to come. In fact, in 2022 alone, three different actors will play the Batman across two different projects. First and foremost is Robert Pattinson, who suits up for the first time in "The Batman," followed by both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton in "The Flash," who are returning to the role after hiatuses of varying lengths.

After a handful of outings as the Dark Knight, "The Flash" will serve as Affleck's goodbye. However, Keaton and Pattinson are likely to stick around in the DC universe for some time. So, it's only appropriate to ask the burning question: between these two versions of Batman, who's better? Let's break their performances down and see who comes out on top.

Pattinson: the inexperienced, brooding hero

In a tale set outside the DC Extended Universe — the home of such films as "Justice League" and "Wonder Woman" –, Robert Pattinson gets to make the titular hero all his own in "The Batman." As he embarks on his second year as a costumed vigilante, it's clear that he's still sorting things out. He refuses to kill yet fights with ferocious aggression, his suit and Batmobile are well put-together but far from sleek, and his ability to keep up appearances as Bruce Wayne is virtually nonexistent. All he cares about is vengeance and keeping Gotham's criminals on their toes.

Though his brooding, stoic personality doesn't disappear, as Pattinson's Batman goes after the murderous Riddler (Paul Dano), he shows a lot of character development. He sharpens his detective skills by investigating crime scenes and breaking down Riddler's ciphers, working collaboratively with the Gotham City Police Department all the while. Additionally, he helps clean up a flooded Gotham and save lives after Riddler's attack on Gotham Square Garden, which turns him from a frightening creature of the night into a full-fledged hero in the eyes of the people.

Robert Pattinson plays an excellent Batman whose strengths lie in his observational skills and commitment to his vigilantism. It'll be interesting to see how he evolves down the road.

Keaton: the seasoned, mysterious legend

Michael Keaton depicted Batman on two occasions: 1989's "Batman" and 1992's "Batman Returns." With Tim Burton in the director's chair, it should come as no surprise that each film kept things dark, stylized, and mildly campy. Under the Batman persona, Keaton's Bruce Wayne seldom said a word, preferring to slink in the shadows and intimidate his enemies before engaging in combat. As a result, he'd become an urban legend in Gotham — one that the GCPD had no desire to speak about publicly or lend any credence to the existence of if they could help it.

Clearly an established crime-fighter, Keaton's Batman carried an arsenal of useful gadgets, kept his Batmobile close, and had access to a variety of resources via his Batcomputer. Unlike Pattinson, he had no qualms about killing his unlawful enemies, and he had refined his public face as billionaire Bruce Wayne. Although, his personal attachment to the likes of Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) and Selina "Catwoman" Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) often complicated his late-night activities. It's also worth noting that he sleeps hanging upside-down. Get it? Like a bat!

In Tim Burton's wacky vision for Gotham City, Michael Keaton's generation-defining turn as a larger-than-life Batman fits right in. Without him, who knows where superhero movies would be today?

Verdict: Pattinson narrowly takes the win

Robert Pattinson and Michael Keaton's respective takes on Batman both come with their own pros and cons. Still, be that as it may, it's hard to deny that Pattinson is the better of the two when taking the source material into account. He's smart, resourceful, and eventually learns to care about making Gotham a better place for those unfortunate enough to live there. Sure, he may be a tad inexperienced and still has to work on balancing his time as Batman with that as Bruce Wayne, but it's evident that Pattinson wanted to do right by the comics with his performance.

At the same time, Keaton deserves plenty of credit for what he did and continues to do with Batman. His performances renewed interest in the character, launched a franchise, and cultivated a strong following of DC fans that are keen to see him return in "The Flash." However, with his violation of the no-kill rule and lack of interest in actually improving life for the people of Gotham City, among other things, he misses the mark as far as a faithful comic adaptation goes. There's not necessarily anything wrong with that, but in this context, it worked against him.

Pattinson and Keaton are each great in their own right, but when it comes to depicting Batman as he is on the page, the former narrowly takes the win.