In Pictures: Batman through the ages

image captionLewis Wilson and Robert Lowery were the first actors to play Batman on the big screen, in two 15-part serials. Lewis came first, in 1943, in a series that invented what was then called The Bat's Cave. Produced during World War II, its anti-Japanese sentiments make uncomfortable viewing today. 1949's Batman and Robin was a low-budget affair, in which the Batmobile was simply a Mercury convertible.
image captionCamp and goofy, Adam West's depiction of Batman is as familiar as his theme tune (der-ner der-ner der-ner der-ner BAT-MAN!). West also played the character on film in 1966, but he never enjoyed driving the Batmobile. "It was out of balance and it was rather dangerous," he recalled. "You never knew when the brakes would fail. I tried to keep it under 35 miles an hour"
image captionAfter collaborating with Tim Burton on Beetlejuice, Michael Keaton was the director's first choice for his gothic take on the caped crusader. He quit in 1992 over studio interference, saying, "I knew we were in trouble when certain people started the conversation with 'Why does it have to be so dark?'"
image captionVal Kilmer squeezed himself into the Batsuit in 1995 for Batman Forever. As Keaton had foreseen, the movie was bigger and brighter than its predecessors, but still featured a menacing turn from Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face. Kilmer's tenure was short-lived, though, after falling out with director Joel Schumacher, who called him "childish and impossible".
image captionGeorge Clooney hams up his reputation as the man who killed the Batman franchise but, in truth, his sincere performance was one of the few good things about 1997's Batman and Robin - derided by critics as "bloated, frantic and mindless". Clooney later conceded his turn in the Batsuit, complete with anatomically-correct nipples, was "the biggest break I ever had".
image captionTough, gruff and buff, Christian Bale's Batman was meaner than his predecessors. He was also more profitable, both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises topped a billion dollars. But the chief innovation of his Bat-trilogy came in the costume department: "Our Batman was able to turn his head, which had never been done before," Bale told the BBC. He hung up his cape and cowl in 2012.
image captionAfter Daredevil flopped in 2003, Ben Affleck swore he'd never make another superhero movie. But, like a Batarang, those words came back to haunt him. Fresh from the Oscar-winning success of Argo, the 41-year-old is stepping into the spandex for 2016's Man Of Steel sequel.

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