Is Val Kilmer the Most Epic Batman Ever?

Written on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 by Kyle posted by kyle

While talking to a coworker recently the discussion turned to our Unshaven Podcast and some of our website articles. He suggested we discuss the actors who’ve played Batman and how to rank them. Below is our debate:

12:37 PM Coworker: nice, also do a ranking of the batmans if possible
that is the order of epicness… Kilmer being 1

12:37 PM Kyle Gnepper: You’re ranking Kilmer #1? Seriously?
and how is Clooney #2? That’s insane

12:38 PM Coworker: dude, have you seen kilmer in the SAINT

12:38 PM Kyle Gnepper:  yes I have

12:38 PM Coworker: he was the gdamn f’ing SAINT

12:38 PM Kyle Gnepper: and in the saint he actually showed emotion
I’m not arguing the saint and I’m not hating on Kilmer.
I’m just saying every performance in the movies with Kilmer and Clooney was garbage

12:42 PM Coworker: Ahhhh, you obviously do not appreciate what they brought to the role
they transformed him into something more
than just a playboy billionaire with gadgets

12:42 PM Kyle Gnepper: Other than progressively smaller cars, what do you think they brought the role?

12:48 PM Coworker: when jim carrey makes him choose between saving chris o’donnel and nicole kidman, he did an excellent job portraying the conflict saying very little whilst wearing a mask. within that 2 minute time frame the repercusions of his choice are conveyed by the indents of pain in his eyes. All the way to the realization that he can embrace his identity as well as that of his alter ego. That kind of commitment to his role is exactly why he is and will always be the best batman

12:50 PM Kyle Gnepper: You’re saying that trumps when the joker throws rachel off the roof in Dark Knight? Or The facial expressions we get from Bale in Mask when he gets dosed with the fear toxin in Batman Begins?

12:51 PM Coworker: yes, i am absolutely saying that silly, how does poison and falling off of a roof compare to character progression of Kilmer in the batman forever

12:56 PM Kyle Gnepper: What character progression? He went throught the same thing Keaton went through in the two pervious movies. He loved a woman- he felt conflicted- she found out he was batman- they decided they loved each other. It wasn’t new. And I’ll admit Kilmer mad a halfway decent batman, but he was a terrible Bruce Wayne. ANd he doesn’t have the same acting chops as Bale or even Keaton

1:05 PM Coworker: Have you ever heard of lightning in a bottle, some actors were born to play roles. Batman was written to be played by Kilmer. I agree that Bales in Little Women and Keaton’s in Mr. Mom’s were career performances, however Kilmer personfied what most actors could only dream. Transforming an Icon older than himself to the extent that our future generations will associate the Batman with Val Kilmer. Very similar to Charleston Heston and Moses(Ten Commandments)

1:09 PM Kyle Gnepper: I completely disagree. Kilmer’s going to be remembered as being a part of the most over the top Batman since Adam West (and with West it was supposed to be funny at least) Bale’s Batman was the revitalizing of the franchise and the first time it was taken to an absolute believeable/ realistic level. 10 years from now when people talki about an Iconic batman they’ll be talking about Bale and Nolan, not Kilmer and Shuemocker

1:18 PM Coworker: But wasn’t that the original intention of Bob Kane and Bill Finger to create a superhero that was beyond believability and realism. Batman is a metaphor for the divinity of justice and in 1939 its original intention was not to bask in the flames of self destruction or condemn the vanity and greed of the 21st century. No, by all historical accounts the men who created arguably the second most recognizable animated character in american pop culture intended what val kilmer brought to life in 1995. The best live action batman that has ever exsisted.

1:23 PM Kyle Gnepper: That’s one way to interpret what Bob Kane made, but the thing about any active property like that is it’s constantly changing. Batman today doesn’t closely resemble the 1939 creation. Heck, but 1960 they were barely the same. The evoltion of the character effects how it’s portrayed. In the 1970 Batman was a silly joke of a hero (Which West and co captured) by the late 80’s/ early 90’s he’d become a dark avenger (which Keaton/ Burton captured) and in the modern day he’s a com;plicated angst holding hero. At no point was he ever meant to be a shallow, gullible (too way to long to figure out Nigma was a criminal) bad joke making (Clooney’s jokes every 5 minutes were terrible), creature he became in those two movies. And I want to be clear, I don’t hold that against Clooney or Kilmer. I hold poor direction accountable for both

1:26 PM Coworker: at this point we are arguing semantics, just admit that your initial reaction to val kilmers ranking was completely unfounded and i will stop berating you with truth

1:28 PM Kyle Gnepper: Absolutely not. I’m willing to say that we’ll just have to agree to disagree on what makes for a good portrayl of Batman. But in any measureable form you have to admit the Bale movies have done better. Profit/ ciritics ratings/ fan response have all been higher for Bale than they were for Kilmer. There’s no denying facts

1:35 PM Coworker: if that is how you would like to grade things that is fine, being dependent upon other peoples thoughts who have nothing invested into the creation and development of the character itself is a great way to ascertain something worth. Do you validate your companies success by amazon reviews? Is Shrek 2 one of the best pieces of americana illustrations, because it currently holds the fifth highest total of box office revenues for all movies.

1:37 PM Kyle Gnepper: No, I’m not saying that I hold this opinion because it’s what everyone else thinks. This is my opinion because I think Bale was the superior batman. I point to the numbers because you have to admit that people make their opinions know with their dollars and it seems Bale got more votes that Kilmer.

1:41 PM Coworker: Yes, those people would be wrong

1:42 PM Kyle Gnepper: So to make sure I understand, if the majority of people prefer Bale to Kilmer they are wrong because you say so?

1:46 PM Coworker: they are wrong because they take it for what it is a perversion of an american hero who is supposed to be an immaculate being who is as just as he is mortal. loud explosions and a sociopath engineered from two chapters of psychology 101 book do not make the best batman.

1:49 PM Kyle Gnepper: Why would you call him a sociopath? How is Bale any more mentally unbalanced than Kilmer’s portrayl? Bale didn’t drag anyone else into the actual fighting (Robin) And Kilmer blew up an entire island (riddlers hideout). These aren’t perversions, it’s just evolution of the character. If you read the original Batman he wore purple gloves, used a gun and killed bad guys when it suited him. The character has had many interpretations and is likely to have many more before the end. We disagree on who put it on screen best, but the majority and numbers are clearly on my side.

1:50 PM Coworker: i was talking about the joker

1:54 PM Kyle Gnepper: I wasn’t aware we switched from Batman to the joker, but okay. Again Nolan went with a realist take on the character. In the real world he created it’s unlikely for anyone to have their skin turn white and hair green, but face paint on an anarchist is possible. It’s unrealisting that he’d have a poison to make dead bodies smile or take over the air waves, but he could paint up his victims and send tapes that the local news would play before giving to police. And it’s unlikely he would have trained hyenas but he could have attack dogs. I’m not even going to argue Nicholson vs Ledger. I enjoy both performances but Ledger was the far superior.

The rest was cut off due to a timely staff meeting. So what do you think? Is it Val Kilmer? Christian Bale? Adam West? Give us your thoughts!

7 Responses to “Is Val Kilmer the Most Epic Batman Ever?”

  1. Harlequin says:

    Going only by live action Batman movies, Christian Bale is top though, and I know I may take flak for this, Keaton is a close second. He brought… his own something to the character and made him really live.

    Though using your co-worker’s logic, Adam West is. Because who can forget when Adam West’s batman had the Joker’s giant bomb? we saw him struggle with the ducks, the nuns, and the marching band… the paragon of justice unable to make a sacrifice of others, and risking his own life instead. But never once flinching from duty or slumping into self-reflection, instead leaping foward with bat-whatever at the ready.

    So I feel your co-worker must admit that Adam West is the better Batman.

  2. Kathy says:

    The thing about Shumacher’s movies is that they were meant to be camp, a la 60s Adam West Batman. They were meant to full of one liners and cheesy dialogue.

    Val Kilmer’s performance as Batman was fine. He served the character well on that end, but I also think he was a crappy Bruce Wayne. That whole stuttering, bumbling Bruce Wayne seemed a little too Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent for me.

    As for Clooney, he’s just pretty to look at. And the dialogue was just as cheesy the second time.

    And for the record, Bale’s Batman/Bruce Wayne is far superior because Bale took the time to delve into the characters. So if I had to rank, I would say Bale, Keaton, West, Kilmer, Clooney.

  3. Michael Bear says:

    I have to say Bale, Keaton, West, Kilmer, Clooney.

  4. Schwing says:

    Bale, West(if you enjoy the ridiculousness), Keaton,Robert Lowery, the others shouldn’t be mentioned. I don’t believe you can compare Nicholson and Ledger. Both roles are portrayed completely different. Nicholson’s has a more comic tone and Ledger’s an edgier realistic villian. I think they are each superior or the best Joker in their own right. Thanks to you guys I am watching A Dark Night tonight and the serials tomorrow.

  5. Kyle G says:

    Your welcome Schwing. Enjoy the Dark Knight

  6. Clint says:

    Thanks for your input, but you are all wrong. Top 4 as follows…

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