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Robert Pattinson Vs. George Clooney: Here's Who Played The Better Batman

It's an old debate that only gets more complicated with time — who is the best Batman? There have been a number of stars to step into the hero's boots in the last three decades, all playing radically different versions of the Dark Knight in vastly different universes. From Tim Burton's gothic fantasy with Michael Keaton, to the urban warfare in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy starring Christian Bale, every version of the Caped Crusader is unique in its own way, every film an embodiment of the time it was made. 

The most recent addition to the Bat-hall of fame is Robert Pattinson, who leads the charge against Gotham's underworld in Matt Reeves' "The Batman." The "Tenet" and "The Lighthouse" star is joined by the likes of Zoe Kravitz's Catwoman and Jeffrey Wright's Lt. James Gordon as they try to stop the Riddler (Paul Dano), whose sadistic war on corruption threatens to tip the scales in an already overwhelmed Gotham. The investigation takes the trio to the seediest corners of the city, where they come across mobsters Carmine Falcone (John Turturro) and Oswald Cobblepot aka the Penguin (Colin Farrell). It's a pretty grim adventure ... but how does this new, even darker Dark Knight hold up against the lighthearted version of the vigilante from "Batman & Robin," as played by George Clooney?

Hey, don't laugh. While "Batman & Robin" definitely wasn't well-received when it first arrived in theaters — and it still has an incredibly poor rating of 12% on Rotten Tomatoes — the film did have a stacked cast. In addition to future Academy Award-winner Clooney (per IMDb), the movie also included big names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, and Chris O'Donnell. So, who's the better Batman between Robert Pattinson and George Clooney? Here's the truth.

Robert Pattinson's fierce, inexperienced Batman is already becoming iconic

"The Batman" picks up with Robert Pattinson's Caped Crusader in the second year of his vigilantism. Even though he's not a total rookie, this Bruce Wayne still filled with the fresh rage that pushed him into this journey in the first place. This Dark Knight doesn't pull his punches, and he's not afraid to fight with savage tactics — in the movie's dramatic opening, he even tasers a goon until he's drooling on the floor. Fans love how intense this version of Batman is, such as Twitter user @lkj_artist tweeting "this is my favorite of all the Batman movies ... Robert Pattinson totally nailed that early career Bats that is vengeful and violent."

"The Batman" doesn't spend much time with the hero when he's in Bruce Wayne-mode, largely because he's totally consumed by his quest for vengeance and justice. He's much more openly brooding and tortured than previous cinematic versions of the character, and far less refined, with this incarnation influenced by comics such as Darwyn Cook's "Batman: Ego," as well as Dennis O'Neil's "Batman: Shaman," with a dash of Geoff Johns' "Batman: Earth One" thrown in for good measure. Basically, Pattinson's Batman has a number of layers to him that are fascinating to watch unfold as the movie goes on, and it's clear this character — which is already very multilayered — has more evolving to do, as demonstrated by how the film's finale sees him become a symbol of hope, instead of merely fear. 

This grounded and gritty take is, clearly, the opposite of how Clooney approached the role.

George Clooney's tongue-in-cheek Batman is just as accurate to the comics (just not the same comics)

So how does George Clooney's Batman compare to the intensity of Robert Pattinson's brooding hero? 

Well, the only DNA they share is a similar name and vaguely similar costume — because Clooney's smoldering Dark Knight is a much more lighthearted hero, full of quips and with no brooding to speak of. These two Batmen are at the opposite ends of the scale, as Clooney shares more in common with Adam West version of the character from the 1960s ...  Bat-credit card, and all. There's an inherent campiness baked into Joel Schumacher's "Batman & Robin," but while fans have never stopped criticizing this, it's important to remember that it's no less accurate to the comics than "The Batman" or "The Dark Knight," because Batman comics have often been very silly. "Batman & Robin," rather than looking at Dennis O'Neil's Batman, is merely leaning into the original fun nature of the character's Silver Age comics.

But realistically, from a character and acting standpoint, Clooney's Batman doesn't really hold up compared to Pattinson's modern vigilante, and there's a reason "Batman & Robin" isn't heralded today as a camp classic. Over two decades later, DC fans remain quick to blast Clooney's tongue-in-cheek performance after watching the 2022 movie, with @_infamouslegacy tweeting "[The Batman] was very impressive, [Robert Pattinson] definitely did a better job than George Clooney lol" and @AaronBlack1814 says "George Clooney was the worst batman/Bruce Wayne ever. In the history of ever!!!"

You can see where this is going already, can't you?

Robert Pattinson is the better Batman

Yes, it's a no-brainer here that Robert Pattinson is the better Batman compared to George Clooney. That's not a groundbreaking statement, but to be fair to Clooney — "Batman & Robin" didn't give him too much to work with when it came to exploring Bruce Wayne's psyche, camp or no camp. The 1997 movie is too focused on bad ice puns, blockbuster action sequences, introducing Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) and fleshing out Robin's arc of becoming a hero in his own right to spend any time on Batman, leaving the title hero as a footnote in his own story. 

Meanwhile, the Matt Reeves film puts Batman at the forefront of its story, including him in almost every scene. The entire movie is about exploring what makes Batman tick, as it forces him to evolve into something greater as a byproduct of his battle with the Riddler. It's a much more personal story, especially since it even puts the legacy of the Wayne Family under the microscope in the middle of a sprawling tale about corruption.

Still, with such a dark story — and a behemoth runtime of 2 hours and 56 minutes — "The Batman" is not a relaxing watch, whereas the silly nature of "Batman & Robin" makes it the sort of throwaway entertainment that others may enjoy. Basically, with so many live-action versions of this superhero, there's a Bat for everyone.