Since Lewis G. Wilson’s portrayal of the first on-screen Batman in the 1943 theatrical serial Batman, many actors have taken on the role of the masked vigilante. From animated series and movies to live action-packed films, talents such as Will Arnett and Christian Bale have taken on the responsibility of bringing one of the most beloved superheroes to life.
But where there’s a male lead, there’s typically a love interest. In this case, the sassy villainous Catwoman. Many actresses, such as Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer, have slain the challenging role. But, after the men hang up the bat mask and the women their cat ears, where did they go?
Lewis G. Wilson (Batman, 1943)
Lewis G. Wilson has the distinct honor of being the first-ever live-action Batman, in the 1943 theatrical 15-episode serial Batman. And while he had the comics to refer to, Wilson had a disadvantage of being the first actor to put on those unforgettable gray tights. He had no one to base the character off, leading to a less than memorable performance.
Batman was definitely Wilson’s defining moment as an actor, as he’s not even credited in a lot of his other works. But the actor led a happy life, marrying novelist and actress Dana Natol and retiring in North Hollywood, California.
Julie Newmar (Batman, 1966)
Actress Julie Newmar threw everything people knew about on-screen love interests and threw them out the window with her performance as Catwoman in the 1966 series Batman. Starring alongside Adam West’s Batman for two seasons, Newmar portrayed a pretty radical female character for the time, aka Catwoman was tough and sometimes even cruel.
The show wasn’t the last time Newmar played the infamous villain. In 2017, the actress lent her voice to the 2017 animated film Batman vs. Two-Face, reprising her cole of Catwoman. Most recently, she took over the role of Dr. Julia Hoffman in the audio drama miniseries Dark Shadows: Bloodline.
George Clooney (Batman & Robin, 1997)
Still trying to find his place in Hollywood, George Clooney didn’t realize taking on the role of Batman in Batman & Robin was going to be a huge mistake. The colorful antics and cheesy script left little to be admired. And don’t even get us started on the atrocity that is this Bat-suit!
In 2013, Clooney even went on record saying he keeps a picture of himself in the Bat costume to remind himself of what a horrible decision it was. Apparently, the photo is some weird good luck charm because that same year, Clooney won an Academy Award for Best Picture as a producer on Argo.
Eartha Kitt (Batman, 1967)
Taking over for Julie Newmar in the third season of the 1967 series Batman, Eartha Kitt brought a whole new dynamic to the role. Instead of being rough and tough, she was portrayed more like Batman’s equal, calculating, serious, and more than a bit ruthless at times!
Kitt’s performance was also groundbreaking in the world of superheroes, paving the way to bringing in more African-American female representation on-screen. After her role as Catwoman, Kitt went on to have a solid career in entertainment, even bringing in a new generation of fans. You might recognize her as the unique voice of Yzma in The Emperor’s New Groove!
Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin, 1949)
The year 1949 was the year of the second attempt to make a serial starring Batman. The studio brought in a bigger-named actor in Robert Lowery to play the title character in the newly imagined Batman and Robin. With better dialogue and intense action scenes, viewers were way more impressed than Lewis Wilson’s 1943 attempt.
Through his career, Lowery appeared in more than 70 films and television series, including the 1956 episode “The Deadly Rock” from the hit series The Adventures of Superman. It was the first time a Batman character shared the screen with Superman! His last project was the 1967 comedy/Western film The Ballad of Josie.
Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns, 1992)
Although Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Catwoman is considered to be one of the most memorable, it’s ironic that she was not the first, second, or even third choice for the part! Thankfully, she got the role in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Her performance introduced a new level of depth to the character of Selina Kyle, showing what it really meant to be a woman scorned while wearing a tight leather catsuit!
The 1992 film wasn’t her last time playing a part in a superhero film either. Recently, Pfeiffer joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the original Wasp in Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Will Arnett (The Lego Batman Movie, 2017)
Yes, we know, technically speaking, The Lego Movie is not exactly a real-life example of someone playing Batman, but it doesn’t make Will Arnett’s portrayal of the masked vigilante any less “real.” Arnett voiced Batman in the original 2011 Lego film, the 2017 Batman version, and then 2019 The Lego Movie: The Second Part.
His deep baritone voice has been used for more than just Lego films, though. The actor is also known for his character of Gob Bluth in Arrested Development as well as for voicing the title character in BoJack Horseman.
Adrienne Barbeau (Batman: The Animated Series, 1992)
Batman: The Animated Series aired on Fox Kids in 1992, introducing a new actress portraying the calculating character of Catwoman. Adrienne Barbeau’s silky voice brought a new tone to the character, who, in this tale, is a socialite who fell into a life of crime with a questionable affinity for cats. Yea, yea, we know; another example of a “fake” character.
Technically, she still played Catwoman, though! After her time voicing Catwoman, Barbeau brought her actual face to the screen. In 2020, she appeared on the Netflix series AJ and the Queen, a comedy web series created by RuPaul, and starred in the ecological horror story film Unearth.
Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2016)
Before Ben Affleck took on the role of Batman, every actor before him portrayed a younger version of the superhero. Then, in the 2016 movie Batman v Superman, it was up to Affleck to bring a new Batman to the screen, an older and angstier character who was very much over the corruption in Gotham — anyone else question his trench coat?
To many people’s surprise, Affleck agreed to reprise his role of Batman and Bruce Wayne for the 2022 film The Flash, alongside another Batman alum, Michael Keaton. Aside from that, though, Affleck starred in The Way Back, a performance for which he received a lot of praise.
Halle Berry (Catwoman, 2004)
For better or worse (mostly worse), in 2004, Halle Berry re-imagined the role of Catwoman. Not only was the character no longer named Selina Kyle, but she was meek, quiet, and not the type of villain seen in earlier portrayals, even though she becomes tougher after her death. And don’t even get us started on the costume or lack thereof!
Regardless, the movie didn’t tarnish Berry’s reputation in Hollywood. She was an Academy Award-winning actress by that time, after all! Surprisingly, before Berry became Catwoman, she starred as Storm, one of the key players in the original X-Men films. Most recently, she is producing the BET series Boomerang.
Val Kilmer (Batman Forever, 1995)
After Michael Keaton dropped out of making a third Batman movie, Val Kilmer stepped in a took his place. The 1995 film Batman Forever grossed more at the box office than Batman Returns, with audience members liking Kilmer’s smooth take on the Dark Knight of Gotham City.
After his time as Bruce Wayne and Batman, Kilmer appeared in a slew of different projects. He went from starring in The Saint to lending his talents to the 1998 animated film The Prince of Egypt, where he was the voice of Moses. Most recently, though, in 2020, he released a memoir titled, “I’m Your Huckleberry: A Memoir.”
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, 2012)
The final installment of Christopher Nolans Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, brought Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman. Finally, we see a sweetness to the character and no strange affinity with feline creatures. Instead, we see Selina Kyle as a savvy and street smart thief looking to make one final heist in order to start her life over.
Well, with a bit of sass that allows her to take on Bruce Wayne and get sent to a hardcore penitentiary. Nevertheless, the Academy Award-winning actress has been part of many projects since knocking down a limping Christian Bale. More recently, she starred in the political drama The Last Thing He Wanted.
Adam West (Batman, 1966)
Love him or hate him, Adam West’s Batman is one that is ingrained in many people’s minds. He’s even Christian Bale’s favorite version of the character, more so than himself! While his fighting abilities weren’t exactly the greatest, his friendly and clean persona was perfect for the 60s television show and the following film, Batman.
But it seems as though West was never fully able to hang up the cape of the masked vigilante. The actor went on to do voice work for multiple shows, including The Fairy Odd Parents, Family Guy, and The Simpsons, always playing a fictional version of himself and Batman.
Camren Bicondova (Gotham, 2014)
Every actress who has taken on the mantel of Catwoman has been an adult, but for Camren Bicondova she had a different Selina Kyle to play in the 2014 television series Gotham. Being no more than 14 when she accepted the role, Bicondova was tasked with creating the entire backstory for Catwoman. No small feat, if you ask us!
She is credited with being the actress to play the role for the longest on-screen, at half a decade! As one of the fan favorites in the show, we’re excited to see what the future of her career has in store.
Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy, 2005-2012)
When Christian Bale took on the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, he brought out something in the character no one had seen before. His portrayal had an intensity the past performances lacked, coupled with action-packed fight scenes and special effects that weren’t possible for the earlier shows and films.
Most recently, the Academy Award-winning actor announced something huge. He is joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the main villain in the 2022 film Thor: Love and Thunder. The movie will mark his second comic-to-movie performance. Talk about an epic betrayal of DC!
Zoe Kravitz (The Batman, 2021)
The 2021 film The Batman has Zoe Kravitz playing the infamous role of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. And while, as of now, the film hasn’t been released, Kravtiz’s body of work has us excited to see what she will bring to the role. Having starred in films such as Divergent and Mad Max: Fury Road, Kravitz has proved she has the agility of the cat burglar villain.
It also helps that she has some experience with the role, having voiced Catwoman in The Lego Batman Movie, opposite Will Arnett. We’re thrilled to see what she brings to the table alongside Robert Pattinson’s young Batman.
Michael Keaton (Batman and Batman Returns, 1989 & 1992)
Known for his comedic work, Michael Keaton was beyond a risk to cast as Batman for the 1989 film of the same name. Thankfully, he proved not only the studio but also the general populace wrong by bringing some life and legitimacy back to the Batman franchise, something that was hanging on by a thread at that point.
And while he is known as the Batman who paved the way for later renditions of the character, he betrayed the DC universe! Okay, he didn’t betray them, per say, but he did double dip comic book roles. In 2017, he played the villain Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Lee Meriwether (Batman, 1966)
Actress Lee Meriwether replaced Julie Newmar as Catwoman for the 1966 film Batman. It was her first major screen performance, as Meriwether was known for little else but being the 1955 Miss America Winner! But people were impressed by her performance, one that took on a more serious tone than Newmar’s.
After her time a the infamous character, Meriwether had many other job offers. She found success playing the role of Doctor Anne MacGregor in the sci-fi series The Time Tunnel, and even found herself back in Gotham, in the Batman episode, “King Tut’s Coup/Batman’s Waterloo!” This time, she’s Lisa Carso, a socialite who is kidnapped by King Tut.
Kevin Conroy (Voices Pretty Much Everything)
One actor who has done more with the character of Batman than all the others is the one and only Kevin Conroy, the voice actor for the early 90s Batman: The Animated Series. His distinctive voice has also been carried over to video games and pretty much anything else animated that includes the Dark Knight.
While he’s not doing everything under the sun for the animated character of Batman, Conroy has actually been in a few live-action films and television series. His most recent being in the 2019 Arrowverse crossover Crisis Aftermath, where he played himself. We’re not sure if that even counts as “acting,” but we’re going with it.
Jane Webb (The Batman/Superman Hour, 1968-1969)
Jane Webb was the first voice actress to take on the role of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, bringing her to animated life in 1968 The Batman/Superman Hour on CBS. Interestingly, Catwoman wasn’t the only character she took on for the hour-long episodes that aired on Saturday mornings.
Unlike the other animated superhero cartoons of the time, The Batman/Superman Hour was a no-nonsense action series. If you’re familiar with the Batman comic books, then you’ll notice that the animation is closer to that of the graphic novels. Aside from this “hour,” Webb also voiced Ginger and Mary Ann in the animated series The New Adventures of Gilligan.