June marks two major milestones for a pair of beloved "Batman" films. June 15, 2020, marks 15 years since the release of "Batman Begins" and just 10 days later on June 25, 2020, we'll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the debut of "Batman Forever." In honor of these milestones, Wonderwall.com is comparing stars who've played the same superhero and seeing how they measure up… starting with Christian Bale! The British actor took on the role of Batman first in 2005 with "Batman Begins," filmmaker Christopher Nolan's attempt to reboot the beloved character — with a darker approach — following the 1997 box office flop "Batman & Robin." Christian excelled in the part, with many noting that his take on the Caped Crusader shared similarities with his "American Psycho" character. The only thing fans took issue with? Christian's attempt at channeling Batman's notoriously deep voice. The film did well at the box office (to the tune of $374 million worldwide) and the actor continued his reign in two sequels — "The Dark Knight" in 2008 and "The Dark Knight Rises" in 2012. His trilogy holds the esteemed honor of containing the only Batman film to win an Academy Award — Heath Ledger picked up a posthumous Oscar for his performance as the Joker. Keep reading to check out the rest of the Catwomen, Batmen, Supermen and more…
While eight people have played Batman to date, only two of these actors portrayed the masked superhero more than once. First up is Michael Keaton, who had the honor of playing Batman twice. But when he first landed the role, fans were not amused. In fact, they reportedly sent protest letters to the movie studio's offices in droves amid fears that the actor, who was known more for comedy at the time, wouldn't be able to fill the serious superhero's shoes. Ultimately, Michael pulled it off, receiving rave reviews as the titular star of 1989's "Batman," which was a box office smash. It earned $400 million, becoming the fifth-highest grossing film ever at that time. Michael came back for "Batman Returns," which also garnered great reviews, though didn't perform quite as well (it earned $266.8 million worldwide). After that film, Michael hung up his cape, with Val Kilmer replacing him in the next installment.
Like many before him, fans were up in arms when Ben Affleck was named as the next Batman, with diehard superhero fanatics angry that an actor known for flops like "Daredevil" and "Gigli" had scored the part. Ben first took on the character in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," getting into tip-top shape and bringing a little more charisma that previous Bruce Waynes lacked. The DC Universe film, however, was considered a box office bomb. Despite making $873 million, it failed to achieve its expected gross of $1 billion. Critics panned the film but many noted that Ben's portrayal of Batman was one of the movie's redeeming qualities. Ben picked the role back up again in another turkey — 2017's "Justice League" — which earned $657 million worldwide against a reported $750 million break-even point. And in 2016, Ben donned the mask and cape for a quick cameo in "Suicide Squad," a film that failed to impress critics but made good money at the box office to the tune of $746 million worldwide.
Julie Newmar was the first actress to portray Catwoman, taking on the character in the "Batman" television series in the '60s. Julie put her own spin on things: She made her own costume and strategically placed the belt on the hips instead of the waist to show off her hourglass figure, she told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. She also rocked winged eyeshadow and bold brows to bring some more edge to the character. Though Julie started it all, many more ladies would follow in her footsteps…
Halle Berry donned the iconic catsuit for the only film centered entirely around the female superhero who'd previously popped up in plenty of Batman films and TV shows. Though her "Catwoman" movie was a box office flop, fans approved of Halle's performance: A 2019 poll from The Hollywood Reporter revealed that the Oscar winner was audiences' favorite star to ever rock those cat ears.
When it was time to film the 1966 "Batman" movie, Julie Newmar wasn't able to reprise her role on the big screen so actress Lee Meriwether filled her kitten heels. Prior to the role, Lee was best known as Miss America 1955. Maybe that's why her Catwoman showed off more sparkle — rocking a shiny catsuit and sequined mask — and sported curly hair! Despite those aesthetic choices, critics noted that Lee's Catwoman was much more serious. In 2017 when Lee was asked by the outlet 13th Dimension who she thought had played Catwoman best, her answer was the next lady on our list…
Eartha Kitt was the next TV Catwoman, taking on the role on the "Batman" TV series in 1968. In doing so, she became the first African American Catwoman. She changed things up by rocking a super-high statement ponytail and giving the character her iconic laugh. Eartha is largely considered by fans to be one of the best amongst all the ladies who donned the kitty ears.
It was Michelle Pfeiffer's turn to play Catwoman in 1992: She sported a latex catsuit in that year's "Batman Returns" opposite Michael Keaton. Unlike many actors who stepped into iconic roles, Michelle didn't face much opposition when her casting was announced. Plus her whip-cracking skills were so impressive that it instantly changed the mind of any and all doubters. Unfortunately, Michelle only channeled the villain for one film.
Rounding out the ladies who've played Catwoman? Anne Hathaway, who tried her hand at the role opposite Christian Bale's Batman in 2012's "The Dark Knight Rises." The actress excelled at many elements of the role — namely Catwoman's unique ability to manipulate the men around her and master fighting with spiked heels and guns. Overall, despite many early on feeling she might not fit the iconic character, Anne did it justice and proved the haters wrong.
The most beloved Superman has to be Christopher Reeve. The actor first wore the cape in 1978's "Superman: The Movie" before going on to star in "Superman II" in 1980, "Superman III" in 1983 and "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace" in 1987. One of the best parts of Christopher's portrayal of alien Kal-El? The way he really marked a difference between the superhero and his bumbling alter ego, Clark Kent, while donning the supposed newspaper reporter's glasses and suit.
Then-unknown actor Brandon Routh filled out the iconic blue spandex suit for 2006's "Superman Returns," a sequel to Christopher Reeve's first two Superman films (but not to the third and fourth in the original series), which had been released decades earlier. Chiseled Brandon — who reportedly was cast in large part because of his resemblance to his predecessor — faced criticism from many who felt his version of the hero was too wooden. He only got to play the character once on the big screen, however, as the movie was far from the epic moneymaker the studio expected it to be. But fans got a treat in late 2019 and early 2020 when Brandon slipped on the blue suit again to play Supes on the CW's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" Arrowverse crossover. Tyler Hoechlin, who's played a different version of the same character on the Arrowverse since being cast on "Supergirl" in 2016, also appeared in the storyline, which centers around parallel universes.
Dean Cain had the honor of playing Superman for four years on TV's "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" from 1993 until 1997. This unique take on the legendary hero gave fans a refreshingly new version of Superman's alter ego, Clark Kent, making him much more charming than he'd previously been portrayed. Dean gets extra points for the amazing chemistry he had with co-star Teri Hatcher, who played Lois Lane. Their love story was a big reason this interesting twist on Superman stayed on the air for so long.
In 1951, George Reeves graced the silver screen as Superman in "Superman & The Mole Men." The actor was previously known for his work in the critically acclaimed and beloved movie "Gone With the Wind" and dozens of other films before he suited up as a superhero, but his good looks and deep voice made him a believable crime fighter. He had the interesting trajectory of starting as a movie Superman and then transitioning the character to the small screen, starring on "The Adventures of Superman" from 1952 until 1958, making him that generation's definitive Superman. Fun fact: This actor actually wore a padded costume to accentuate Superman's muscular build.
The hunkiest Superman in history? Our vote goes to British star Henry Cavill, who donned that famous red cape first in 2013's "Man of Steel" then in 2016's "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" and, finally, in 2017's "Justice League." He certainly had the sculpted body for the job, which helped lend credibility when it came time for those fight scenes. The only complaint voiced about this star's portrayal? We didn't get to see him embodying Clark Kent enough (who doesn't want more Henry in glasses?!). In May 2020, after much speculation that the Brit was out as the Man of Steel, industry reports revealed that Henry was negotiating his return to the role for a future comic book film for Warner Bros. And in 2021, fans will, of course, get the once almost mythical "Snyder Cut" of "Justice League," which will air on HBO Max, filmmaker Zack Snyder announced in 2020.
Another TV Superman hit the scene in 2001: Tom Welling took on the role in "Smallville," which put the emphasis on the superhero's beginnings. The show went on for an impressive 10 seasons as it chronicled Clark Kent's journey to becoming Superman. That also makes Tom the star who played the legend the longest.
Before Wonder Woman was synonymous with Gal Gadot, Lynda Carter was the talented brunette people associated with the iconic character. Lynda debuted as Wonder Woman in a television movie in 1974 then continued to play the legendary superhero on a TV series from 1975 until 1979. Fans who loved Lynda as Diana Prince and her alter ego can get excited for the 2020 DC Universe sequel "Wonder Woman 1984" as director Patty Jenkins teased an image of the character that looks reminiscent of Lynda's '70s incarnation.
Our most recent Wonder Woman? Gal Gadot, who first portrayed the iconic supero in 2016's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice." She reprised the role in 2017's "Wonder Woman," the film that explored the character's origin story and was set during World War I. It was a critical and box office smash — proving that both audiences and film critics alike were behind Gal's Wonder Woman. The flick earned $821 million at the box office and became the 10th highest grossing movie of the year. Lucky for fans, Gal will be returning for the sequel "Wonder Woman 1984," which is set for a 2020 debut.
Tobey Maguire rocked the Spidey suit three times — first in 2002's "Spider-Man," then in 2004's "Spider-Man 2" and finally in 2007's "Spider-Man 3." This trilogy was a box office hit, thanks largely to Tobey's portrayal of the famous superhero and his on-screen chemistry with love Mary Jane, played by Kirsten Dunst (remember that upside-down kiss scene?!). Fans overwhelmingly loved Tobey's portrayal, which struck a balance between powerful superhero and sort of goofy every-guy.
Andrew Garfield tried his hand at Spider-Man twice, first in 2012's "The Amazing Spider-Man" and then in 2014's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." Like his predecessor, he had some good on-screen chemistry with his love interest (this time Gwen Stacy), perhaps due to the fact that he and co-star Emma Stone were dating in real life. Fan critiques of the British actor's performance? He played the role a little too cool, portraying a Peter Parker who's a little too smooth and good-looking — with a focus too much on romance rather than traditional superhero elements.
The youngest Spider-Man to date? That's Tom Holland, who briefly embodied the superhero for the first time in 2016's "Captain America: Civil War" before really showing his Spidey stuff in "Spider-Man: Homecoming" in 2017 and "Spider Man: Far From Home" in 2019. Another distinction for Tom? He's probably the most universally liked of the Spider-Men.
Remember when Ben Affleck donned a red leather suit to portray a blind crimefighter? Neither do we. In 2003, the actor suited up in the film "Daredevil" to play the titular superhero. The film marked Daredevil's feature film debut — though unfortunately, it wasn't a memorable one. Ben's performance felt flat and unconvincing — it was as though Matt Murdock/Daredevil was stripped of the complexities and inner turmoil that made him so enthralling to begin with. While Ben certainly looked the part, his portrayal was lackluster at best.
An actor who did do the character justice? Charlie Cox, who delivered an exceptional performance as attorney Matt Murdock/Daredevil on the "Daredevil" Netflix series that ran for three seasons from 2015 to 2018 and on "The Defenders," which ran for one season in 2017. Murdock's complicated history shined through in the English actor's compelling portrayal that was packed with emotion and action.
Among the best known superheroes is none other than the Hulk. The first actor to try his hand at Bruce Banner and his alter ego on the big screen? Edward Norton! The "Fight Club" star played the characters in 2008's "The Incredible Hulk," excelling at making Bruce seem like a believable scientist — he played this aspect of the dual role in an apathetic, composed way that felt true to the character. However, after reportedly being difficult to work with, Edward was eventually let go from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and replaced by Mark Ruffallo…
Mark Ruffalo absolutely crushed it — no pun intended — as the Hulk. Before he made his Bruce Banner/Hulk debut in 2012's "The Avengers," audiences were unsure how the "Zodiac" actor would take to the role and whether or not he'd be a good fit. While he didn't play the role of a scientist with the same ease as Edward Norton, Mark's epic outbursts as the Hulk totally made up for it. In Mark's portrayal, you can really see the duality of Bruce and the Hulk and how both entities seemed to struggle with one another. As Bruce, Mark was laid-back and collected — and as the Hulk, he was terrifying and unhinged. Even after the Hulk transitioned into the smart, easygoing and lovable version of himself that we met in "Avengers: Endgame," Mark played that version of the green monster expertly too. All around, he gave such a compelling performance.
Sophie Turner made her first appearance as Jean Grey in the 2016 film "X-Men: Apocalypse" — a role she would reprise just three years later in 2019's "Dark Phoenix." The "Game of Thrones" star's portrayal was well-received as she flexed her acting chops. However, despite making $252 million at the box office, the second film flopped critically, receiving a 23% fresh rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes.
The world got its first look at Jean Grey on film when Famke Janssen took on the role in the "X-Men" movie series that released projects between 2000 and 2014. While Sophie Turner has been commended for her portrayal of the female heroine as a young woman, she did have some pretty big shoes to fill — many fans still prefer Famke's original take on Jean Grey.
Evan Peters first took on the role of Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver in the 2014 film "X-Men: Days of Future Past." He reprised the role three times after that — in 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse," 2018's "Deadpool 2" and 2019's "Dark Phoenix." With his boyish charm, Evan's portrayal of Quicksilver was a delight to watch — you really got the sense that the hero is a guy who enjoys having superpowers, and that Evan was enjoyed himself. Interesting fact: Evan appeared in "Kick-Ass" alongside this actor who has also played Quicksilver…
Aaron Taylor Johnson made his debut as Peter Maximoff/Quicksilver in 2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and reprised the role in 2015's "Avengers: Age of Ultron." If Evan Peters' version was more carefree and energetic, Aaron's performance was more mature and refined. The English actor's stoic take on the character felt truer to the comics in that sense, and with his bleached blonde hair and superhero build, Aaron definitely channeled the superhuman speedster from a physical perspective.