‘The Dark Knight’ Star Reveals His Surprising Picks for Best Big-Screen Batman and Joker

Ask most Batman fans which actor has played the character best, and you are likely to wind up with many different responses. Over the years, the Caped Crusader has been brought to life countless times. The iconic DC Comics hero has inspired TV series, films, and video games.

Of course, such a broad spectrum of opinions is expected with such an enduring character. But such is also the case with Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker. Recently, a key actor from beloved Batman film The Dark Knight revealed his Bat-picks for the best version of the hero and his rival.

Christian Bale at the European premiere of 'The Dark Knight'
Christian Bale at the European premiere of ‘The Dark Knight’ | Leon Neal/AFP via Getty Images

A long Bat-history of Bat-films

Before we get to that, let’s review the big-screen Bat-history. The first true Batman movie — i.e., not including the 1940s serials — was 1966’s Batman: The Movie. Like the TV series that inspired it, that film starred Adam West as Batman and Cesar Romero as the Joker.

In 1989, the Caped Crusader returned with a new film franchise led by Michael Keaton, ultimately succeeded by Val Kilmer and George Clooney. Of course, that first film saw Keaton square off against Jack Nicholson’s Joker. And for the longest time, those two were easily fans’ favorites.

Yet, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy changed all that. Christian Bale took on the cowl, and Heath Ledger won an Oscar for playing the Joker. Both were followed in later, unrelated films by Affleck, Jared Leto, and Joaquin Phoenix.

Affleck played Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, briefly in Suicide Squad (which starred Leto as Joker), and again in Justice League. Both Affleck and Leto have since vacated those roles, with Phoenix debuting as a brand-new version of the Joker in 2019.

‘The Dark Knight’ star Eric Roberts shares his picks

So when TooFab caught up with actor Eric Roberts, he had plenty to choose from. Roberts appeared as crime boss Sal Maroni in Nolan’s The Dark Knight opposite Bale and Ledger. But neither of those actors is his favorite to inhabit those iconic roles.

“By far,” according to Roberts, Keaton remains the best Batman. “I loved Michael’s performance in that movie, the actor said. “And I believed him! He was the Batman!”

When asked if he saw Phoenix’s turn in Joker, Roberts had nothing but praise for the performance and director Todd Phillips’ movie. But again, he went back to Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman for his pick for the best Joker.

“You know what, I’m a Jack [Nicholson] fan, but I’m old,” he said. “I love that movie, love those guys, love everything about them.”

More Batman actors coming up soon

As is the case with so many other Batman fans, Roberts’ opinion appears to be set in stone. While everyone has a particular actor they feel is “their” Batman or Joker, Warner Bros. continues to keep telling new stories. Phoenix is already tapped to land an Academy Award nomination for his work, perhaps following in Ledger’s Oscar-winning footsteps.

Then Robert Pattinson is slated to suit up as Batman for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. That film is expected to be unconnected from the rest of the DC Extended Universe and Joker. Notably, John Turturro recently joined the cast as Sal Maroni, marking the character’s first big-screen performance since Roberts played him.

And we’re not even counting all the animated incarnations that have passed and which will undoubtedly follow. Batman and the Joker are mythological figures at this point, and as such, we expect and look forward to seeing their stories retold and reinterpreted for years to come.