Who is Batman? At a press conference for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck said that he considers the character to be three different men. There's the hero under the mask, of course. Then there's Bruce Wayne's public persona, "a mask that he puts on as much as Batman." Underneath it all is the pent-up billionaire who never shows his face, still grieving over his murdered parents. As Affleck puts it, Batman is "fucked up."
Affleck isn't the first comic book scholar to detect such multitudes in the 80-year-old character. From his early detective years through his campiest stretch and into the brooding age that brought on his Hollywood existence, Bruce Wayne's central conflict has been his own haunted, two-faced existence (okay, and the murderous villain Two-Face, but don't be so literal). Batman's psychological profile poses a challenge for actors who take up his mantle, balancing stunt work and comic book mythology with the usual character work. Who did it best? We assessed the competition, saw not who they are underneath but what they did to define themselves, and ranked the eight big screen Batmen accordingly, from batty to brilliant.