Batman is a superhero who, despite being born in the murky and dark pages of DC Comics, has increased his fame thanks to the small and big screen, with always different interpreters who, each in his own way, have tried to enclose his multifaceted and complex psychology . As in the case of the James Bond film saga, which introduced various actors who represent the historical and social context of reference, the various Dark Knight films (and the various stars who played him) are also prone to changes and transformations. This means that it is really impossible to elect, a priori, the best version of Batman, but, statistically, it is possible to determine which is the public’s favourite. What has recently emerged is that the Caped Crusader of Michael Keatonwhich appeared in Batman and Batman Returns Tim Burton, is actually the most beloved among American viewers. It is therefore appropriate to ask ourselves why this choice, given that, over time, other interesting versions have alternated.
A recognizable Dark Knight
If it is not possible to establish in general which is the best actor who lent his face to Batman, we can however intercept what type of character was built, also in relation to the historical era. As much from Christian Bale (second in the standings according to the aforementioned statistics), who modeled a modern Bruce Wayne perfectly integrated into Nolan’s poetics, as from Ben Affleck (in third position), who instead embodied the darkest aspects of the vigilante, Michael Keaton stands out in a profound way. In fact, in Keaton’s version, probably the one most anchored to the “vintage” comics sphere, the duality between Batman and Wayne is very clear, with the first being a spotless and fearless hero and the second a rich, elegant and worldly gentleman. A recognizable characterization comes out of it, especially because it gives the audience a classic picture of the superhero, with a secret identity and everyday clothes that he can never give up.
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Crystallization over time
At this point, however, it is appropriate to ask why, despite the various transformations that the world of comics and gods cinecomic have encountered over the years, American audiences continue to be fond of a type of hero dated and old school. Definitely, because it brings back to mind a stereotype which, despite leaving some traces still today, has almost completely disappeared, that is, that particular problematic character who has two distinct sides of his self. Now, if you think about it, it’s more common to recognize a unique character with a thousand facets and not a figure who changes identity drastically. In the latter situation, as Stevenson teaches us for example with The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, we really see two distinct figures on the screen, with a clear duality between one identity and the other and not a single individual with multiple personalities. A narrative archetype with deep cultural roots that can only be crystallized over time and which is therefore also appreciated today.
The Birdman parenthesis
There is also another element to consider that is probably crucial to understanding why Michael Keaton is the most acclaimed Batman by Americans. In US cinema, in particular, there is a narration, even extra-cinematic, which remains immortal, that is the man who fights adverse times and redeems himself, obtaining a particular revenge. We have just seen it, these days, with Brendan Fraser, who beyond his extraordinary performance in the Oscar-winning The Whale, embodies a perfect example of this storytelling. The same, in different ways, happened with Michael Keaton. If after Batman the actor was stuck in an acting limbo without ever ending, unable to detach himself from the character, it was Birdman of Iñárritu to change things. The film, with strong autobiographical components, finally allowed the actor to be ironic and then overcome his obstacles, making him come back stronger than before. Another story of epic and irresistible revenge, with heroic tones, almost a point of connection with his Gotham alter ego.
The shy return to cinecomics
The immediate consequence of this appreciation is that, once again, much space has been given to Keaton in the superhero world, giving him the opportunity to return to his origins, without however fueling another acting cage. It is no coincidence that, in the Marvelembodied, in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Vulture, a villain among many but not the most recognizable and also his participation in The Flash appeals more to the fan service than to a real narrative utility, at least as far as we know today. In fact, if it is true that it will have more importance than Affleck’s Batman, for some like a cameo, it will probably not have a value that goes beyond the single project, even considering the total re-foundation of the DC universe by James Gunn. Therefore, with this ploy, Keaton continues to maintain an actor’s independence that still allows him to range between genres, without having to take into account the cinecomic.
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An interesting fact, but still partial
Ultimately, as curious as it was to analyze this particular statistical element against Michael Keaton’s Batman, it is still a partial figure. Trivially, the United States of America, taken as a sample, are certainly not representative of the entire globe and it would be even more interesting to do the same research, but expanding it on a global level. One thing is certain: the Beetlejuice actor – Piggy Sprite e The Founder he is the Dark Knight that the Americans deserve and the one in which they are most reflected and we will see if in the coming years this statistic will remain unchanged or not. The only aspect that remains stable, regardless of people’s tastes, numbers and appreciation, is the modernity of a character like Batman, who, regardless of the characterizations and the historical era in which he is inserted, continues to remain a stone milestone in the world of entertainment, a superhero who, wrapped in his dark cloak, is ready to sow blind and pure justice, chasing an impossible dream of morality.
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