Sadly, Adam West died this weekend at the age of 88. The star of the campy 1960s Batman TV show was much-beloved*, but what I always appreciated about him was his willingness to lean into the joke: pretty much anytime you saw him in something for the last 20-some years, West was playing West playing Batman, just in an unfamiliar setting. This is, perhaps, best seen in his recurring role as the mayor of Quahog, R.I., on the animated series Family Guy. But my personal favorite was his guest spot on Nickelodeon's The Adventures of Pete and Pete, where he played Little Pete's principal and attempted to foil a great April Fool's Day joke.
Anyway, the passing of West gave JVL, Vic, and me the chance to argue over who's the best Batman. And, using The Science™, I have determined the exact ranking of Batmen. After the podcast, I shall share with you my method and exact, Scientific™, rankings.
There are three different vectors we must consider when using The Science™ to calculate which Batman is best.
- Vector One: Definitiveness of Batman: Basically, how definitive is this version of Batman? Is he the definitive movie Batman? The definitive TV Batman? The definitive voice of Batman? If you think "Campy Batman" does one name pop into your mind?
- Vector Two: How good is his Bruce Wayne: Let's be honest, we see more of the actor as Bruce Wayne than as Batman. So how good is the actor in portraying a playboy millionaire hiding a dark secret?
- Vector Three: The overall quality of the production: This has to do with the quality of the movies or shows in which the Batman in question appears. Obviously the Nolan trilogy is best; what comes next?
Using this patented** Three Vector Approach, I have definitively concluded the following ranking of Batmen:
7. George Clooney (0 points)
6. Val Kilmer (5 points)
5. Ben Affleck (16 points)
4. Adam West (17 points)
3. Kevin Conroy (22 points)
2. Michael Keaton (23 points)
1. Christian Bale (27 points)
(I didn't rank the GOB Batman from the Lego movies because who cares about him. Those movies are dumb. He'd be between Kilmer and Affleck.)
Kevin Conroy will be the biggest surprise to some here; he was the voice actor for the animated Batman series that aired on Fox in the 90s. He scored 10 points on definitiveness, because whenever I read a Batman comic I can only hear Conroy's voice. It's perfect.
So yeah. Here are the individual scores, by category. Adam West and Ben Affleck are basically replacement-level Batmen, which feels about right. Please do not contradict these not-at-all-arbitrary numbers. You don't want to be a denier of The Science™, do you?
*Especially by Jonathan V. Last, who had many nice things to say about him in the mini-episode above. Make sure to tweet your thoughts to him; he loves hearing from you.
**Not actually patented.