The Best & The Worst: Batman film characters

I got inspired to compile this one after watching The Dark Knight.  I’ve always had a preference towards the characters of the Batman franchise, cos they always had this dark, real edge to them.  So here it is; my 10 favourite character portrayals in the Batman filmography:

1. Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (2008)
Was there any doubt? The Joker suddenly becomes so much more real simply by omitting his backstory and purpose. Villains don’t always have to have an agenda, y’know! Ledger did an amazing job transmogrifying this into his own. 648362 stars out of 5.
2. Danny DeVito as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin in Batman Returns (1992)
I think DeVito was, or is, the only actor in the world capable, in terms of stature, of portraying this one, and until Mr Ledger’s Joker came along this was the character I always thought was the darkest in Batman film. Tim Burton is a different kind of dark from Christopher Nolan, and brought the best out of Penguin.
3. Jim Carrey as Edward Nygma/The Riddler in Batman Forever (1995)
Hands down, my favourite part of Batman Forever. It just seemed so…natural for him.
4. Michelle Pfeiffer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in Batman Returns (1992)
She just made the whole Woman Scorned thing so damn…wow.
5. Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier/The Joker in Batman (1989)
I liked this a lot because of how faithful he was to the comics and how fun he made it, and till now every time I look at him I think of The Joker, but Ledger came along and made Jack look oh so pointless.
6. Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth in Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997)
Because he’s so good, it’s as if no Alfred is an Alfred if it ain’t played by him.
7. Cillian Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow in Batman Begins (2005)
Face it, Murphy has the face of a psychopath; he looks so natural in any murderous role. His acting ain’t too shabby either. Good choice.
8. Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)
I’ve always been a bigger fan of Batman’s villains than of him himself, but of the lot, I think Keaton gave the closest version of what I think Bruce Wayne is supposed to be like. Perhaps Bale can’t be blamed due to the setting of the Nolan movies. Kilmer is a schmuck, and I only ever liked Clooney in From Dusk Till Dawn.
9. Nicole Kidman as Dr Chase Meridian in Batman Forever (1995)
Of all the actresses to play the Bat-romantic pursuits, I think Kidman stood out the most as being equal to Batman and not dependent on him. She’s just naturally glam. Loved her here. Dumb name though.
10. Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face in The Dark Knight (2008)
I liked how they delved into his character a lot more than the other two portrayals of him, cos I think Two-Face is one of the few characters in Batman whose backstory can’t afford to be ignored too much, and I like how his Two-Face look is more realistic than Tommy Lee Jones’s disaster, but I wasn’t comfortable with how often and deliberately he flipped his coin here. Jones did it more naturally.

And, just because, my 5 least fave portrayals:

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Dr Victor Fries/Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin (1997)
Freeze is supposed to be intellectual, cool-calm, and maybe not all that bulked up. All intellect is thrown out the door with Schwarzenegger in the role and his suit made him look like one of the Neosapien characters from Exosquad trying to audition for a Terminator movie. And out of good faith I’m not even gonna mention his bad puns.
2. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight (2008)
I don’t like the Rachel Dawes character very much at all; was pretty relieved she got blown up. At first I ranked Gyllenhaal’s performance as better than Holmes’s, but I think Holmes did it more confidently. Maggie came off looking too much like a useless damsel in distress.
3. Jeep Swenson as Antonio Diego/Bane in Batman & Robin (1997)
Reducing Bane to a mindless bodyguard is pure insult to what he really is. This is more the fault of scriptwriting than of Swenson himself, of course. Heath Ledger ain’t the only Bat-casualty: Swenson died 2 months after the release of Batman & Robin.
4. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face in Batman Forever (1995)
Now what happened here? This was the campiest I’ve ever seen a Batman villain become. Jones looked very comfortable in this role and did a very good job of it, I appreciate that much, but the depiction did no justice to what Two-Face really is, at all. Zero depth, BAD outfit (tiger stripes on fuschia and leopard prints!?), and female companions named Sugar & Spice? Cornay & Tackay!
5. Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes in Batman Begins (2005)
Yes, I really hate Rachel Dawes.

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