Who is the Better Batman? Christian Bale or Ben Affleck?
Who wins the Cowl?
Right or left? Sugar or spice? Marvel or DC? The world is full of choices packed with arguments for one side or the other.
Though these debates may seem endless, we’ll take a look at just one today - Bat-fleck or Bale? Who was the better Batman? Who was the better Bruce Wayne? Will Bale take the prize as the better Dark Knight, or is there a new Batman on the rise looking to take the throne?
Christian Bale - The Hero We Needed
Rising from the ashes of Batman & Robin almost ten years before, Bale took the cowl and made it his own.
Christian Bale, after being given a copy of the wonderfully dark graphic novel “Arkham Asylum” set out to play the Caped Crusader back in the year 2000. Though it wasn’t until years later that he actually got the part of Batman, Bale began crafting his Batman long before he was cast as The Dark Knight.
Did that extra time help him craft a better Batman?
Let’s take a look at what Bale has going for him - Bale is a Better Playboy Bruce Wayne
Who is the man behind the mask?
Our first Pro on the Christian Bale list puts aside the Bat and looks closer at the man behind the mask. In Bale’s performance, his newer Bat still manages to retain some sense of Bruce Wayne, as well as doing a better job in portraying that playboy figure. Though you could argue that we see very little of Affleck as Bruce Wayne, playboy philanthropist, as of now, Bale takes the Wayne-sized cake.
Bale’s Villains Are Better
Great villains rise because of great heroes.
Bane, Scarecrow, Ra’s al Ghul, Catwoman, Talia al Ghul, Two-Face and, last but not least... The Joker. The Dark Knight trilogy somehow packed more than seven villains into three movies, each rising to try and kill the Bat, or to drive him mad. Though Bat-fleck did face Superman and Doomsday, Bale’s Batman faced enemies that challenged every part of his soul making his villains far better at this time.
Bale Remained True To Batman Ideals
No guns. No killing. Such is the Batman way.
Since seeing a gun used to kill his parents right before his very eyes, Batman has had two rules… No guns. No killing. Granted these rules are flexed in a few Batman stories. This has been a general rule separating Batman as a hero, rather than an anti-villain. If Batman crosses that line if he becomes what he chose to fight, is he a villain himself?
Bale Had Three Movies of His Own
With three films under his belt, Bale’s Batman makes for a more complete picture.
Though Bat-fleck has the potential to make more movies, as it stands right now Bale’s Batman simply has more screen time to develop. We watch Bale’s Batman rise, we watch him fall, we see that transition in the middle. Rather than sharing his debut film with another superhero, Bale has three of his own, allowing for much more of his story to be told.
Bale Knew Where Batman Ended and Where Bruce Wayne Began
Though the lines within himself may have been blurred, Bale knew there was a line.
Through multiple conflicts with himself and others over the matter, Bale’s Batman maybe wasn’t sure where Batman ended and Bruce Wayne began within himself. But he was aware that there was in fact a line, making it easier for the audience to see that line as well.
Bale’s Batman Knew When to Give up the Cowl
“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”
Bale’s Batman did something that Affleck’s Batman seemingly could not… He gave up the cowl. When his job was finished, so was he. Bale’s Batman “died” a hero, and rode off into the sunset leaving his symbol behind to inspire hope, rather than fear. Though the ending of The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t the first time Bale’s Batman tried to set aside, it seemingly stuck allowing Bruce and Selina to live their life happily ever after giving the entire trilogy closure.
Bale’s Batman is More Intelligent
Bale’s Batman was very quick witted when it came to his enemies.
Throughout The Dark Knight trilogy, Bale’s Batman never fails to use his mind to his it’s fullest potential. He’s quick on his feet, and even quicker to use enemies weaknesses to his advantage. In Batman Begins this starts with Scarecrow, Batman quickly uses the Scarecrow’s fear gas right back on him, neutralizing the psychotic man.
Bale was a More Realistic Batman
A much more realistic world creates a more realistic hero.
Though you could argue that Bat-fleck’s Batman does not live in a realistic world, but rather a world filled with aliens and Amazons, that still does not change the fact that at the end of the day, Bale’s Batman is just more realistic. He’s imperfect. He makes mistakes, and he knows it, that alone makes him feel more realistic to watch.
Bale’s Batman was a Symbol
Bale’s Batman was hope for Gotham in their darkest hours.
Unlike Ben’s Batman, Bale’s Batman was a symbol for all of Gotham when they needed him most. He was a symbol of hope, and though at times he was chased, there were always those who looked up to him in his city.
Batman Begins Brought Batman Back into The Spotlight
Reviving a franchise- not the easiest thing to do.
Following the poorly received Batman and Robin, it seemed as though The Dark Knight’s days were numbered. Who would attempt to resurrect a franchise that not even George Clooney could save? But somehow, between Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan, they have brought the Caped Crusader back to the big screen, and we are forever grateful.
But For Every Pro, There are Cons -
- Even Christian Bale was Unhappy with his Batman
- Bale’s Batman Voice
- Bale’s Batman Seemed Focused More on Relationships Than Goal
But was he The Dark Knight we needed?
Though Christian Bale did help revitalize the franchise, no movie series is without its problems. Even Christian Bale himself said he was unhappy with his performance feeling as though he could have brought more darkness to the cape. Beyond Bale’s own feelings on the matter, his “Batman voice” sparked a new string of laughs once the phrase “I’m Batman” was coined.
Most of all, Bale’s Batman, in the end, seemed more focused on relationships rather than the goal at hand. Case in point, choosing to save Rachel over saving Harvey Dent. Though we all know the Joker plays his tricks and Rachel dies in the end, Bruce put his own feelings over the good of Gotham, a very un-Batman like thing to do.
Ben Affleck- The Hero We Deserve
Though with just one movie and one small cameo, Ben Affleck is already the Batman we deserve.
I’ll admit, when I heard who was taking over for Batman after Christian Bale, I was skeptical to say the least. Ben Affleck, Batman? It was mind boggling. Though we all knew this wasn’t his first go-around with superheroes, the casting seemed straight out of left field.
But somehow, he made it work.
Not only did he make it work, Affleck’s portrayal of The Dark Knight was so fantastic and different, it was hard to remember a Batman before him. And with even more movies on the horizon for Ben and the Bat, it’s an exciting time to be a Batman fan.
Affleck is a More Imposing Batman
Ben is one tough Bat.
Though you could argue that Christian Bale, in his Batman heyday was closer to the canon measurements of Batman, Affleck seems much more imposing in the suit. When standing in the suit Affleck’s arms and chest truly resemble a man built for fighting, Not a man who just so happens to fight.
He’s Closer to Comic Batman
Ben Affleck’s Batman - The Dark Knight Returns Realized.
Frank Miller’s brilliant comic The Dark Knight Returns tells us a tale of a cynical Batman with a terrible opinion of the world and the people in it. Though he still works to save them, this Batman looks at everyone as a potential enemy, which Ben Affleck’s Batman certainly does.
Affleck’s Batman has Potential
Though Bale has three films under his belt, Affleck has the potential for more.
Even if we don’t count Affleck’s cameo in Suicide Squad, with the confirmation that Affleck is writing his own Batman movie, and the Justice League movie on the horizon, Affleck has the potential to surpass Bale in terms of being Batman. Though some of these movies are shared, like Batman vs Superman, there’s no telling how many sequels we may get after Ben releases his own Batman films!
Affleck is More Batman than Bruce Wayne
Affleck’s Batman gives new definition to blurred lines.
Unlike Bale’s Batman who at least saw the line, Affleck’s Batman has lost all sense of Bruce Wayne leaving only the Bat inside of him. From what Alfred hinted at, this version of Bruce was once a good man, but that man is now gone.
Affleck’s Batman has an Entire Universe of Heroes at his Side
The Justice League realized.
Though Bale’s Batman had allies, certainly, Affleck’s Batman has names like Superman, and Wonder Woman fighting by his side. With The Justice League adding in both Cyborg and Flash to the mix, Affleck’s Batman is at no loss for high-powered allies if he’s ever in a jam.
Affleck’s Batman has a Much Improved Batsuit
A new suit is never a bad thing.
Unlike Bale’s suit, which had its fair share of problems, Affleck’s suit seems a huge improvement. Affleck is armored, he’s prepared, and most of all, his suit allows him to keep his mouth closed. What’s even better, Affleck has multiple Bat-suits! With a lighter version for fighting thugs and the walking tank he wears to fight Superman, we can only speculate at what suits he’ll appear in next.
Affleck is a More Aggressive Batman
This Batman is holding no punches, at first.
Unlike the Bale’s Batman, who saved Joker from falling to his death, Affleck’s Batman seems to have moved past his concern for the loss of life and is moving on to a more aggressive Bat. Beyond even wanting to kill Superman for being all-powerful and unchecked, this Batman gives his Bat-mark freely at first even knowing it’s a death sentence in prison.
He’s Hardened After Years of Fighting
More experienced means more knowledge.
Ben Affleck’s Batman is a man who has seen things that would turn his hair gray… literally. Wanting to move away from the origin story that’s been told more times than I can count, Affleck’s Batman knows evil before the movie even begins and that makes for an incredibly interesting take on the Bat. He’s seen it, he’s lived it, and he has no illusions about it. He’s suffered loss, and it’s scarred him.
And really, what is Batman without gadgets?
Though the fabulous Lucius Fox did have a vast amount of gadgets for Bale’s Batman, we didn’t get to see these gadgets in full force. Affleck’s Batman’s utility belt is not just for looks, it's functional as well. Carrying everything from a grappling hook to an underwater breather, Affleck’s Batman has come prepared.
Who Else Could Go Toe-to-Toe with Superman?
The Man of Steel is an enemy very few can handle.
Finally, we’ve come to the final pro on Bat-fleck’s list. He went toe-to-toe with Superman. Though Bale’s Batman certainly had more villains could any of them really match up to Superman? Superman is a god among men, and Ben Affleck’s Batman beat him.
The Cons to his Pros
- Uses Guns, an Un-Batman Move
- Detective Skills Could Use Work
- Willing to Kill, another Un-Batman Move
Does he match up to Bale?
Though Ben Affleck’s Batman has made some improvements upon Christian Bale’s there are a few drawbacks that stick out when watching his movies.
Personally, I still can’t get over seeing Batman use a gun, it feels as though he has stopped being Batman and become something else. Though that may be the feel the writers wished for us to get, considering this is an older and hardened Batman, it still feels as though he isn’t the Batman that we know. It’s the same with seeing Batman kill, or allow someone to be killed. It does not feel like the Batman we know.
Secondly, his detective skills could use some work. There were quite a few instances in Batman vs Superman where Affleck’s Batman seemed to be lacking in that area. In other versions of Batman and Superman meeting, Batman is quick to know the secret identity of the Caped Crusader. Not so in Batman vs Superman.
Affleck stands above Bale as the modern day Batman.
Affleck with the potential to grow, has a fantastic prospect as Batman. And I for one am truly excited to see what he does with it! This could be a new age for the Caped Crusader, and whether you agree with Affleck over Bale or not, we’re all excited to see where this new franchise goes.
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