Eric Roberts faced off with Christian Bale's caped crusader in The Dark Knight, but the actor believes Michael Keaton is the best Batman "by far." Roberts, who played crime boss Sal Maroni in the Christopher Nolan-directed blockbuster, also picked Keaton's Batman co-star Jack Nicholson as the best Bat-villain: despite an "incredible performance" in Joker, described by Roberts as an "incredible, gripping film," Nicholson's Joker remains the best iteration of the Clown Prince of Crime over Joaquin Phoenix's most recent interpretation.
For Roberts, there's no topping Keaton in the Tim Burton-directed 1989 blockbuster that moved away from Adam West's campy television version.
"I loved Michael's performance in that movie. And I believed him," Roberts said. "He was the Batman!" On Nicholson, Roberts added, "You know what, I'm a Jack fan, but I'm old. Yeah, I love that movie, love those guys, love everything about them."
In a poll conducted by Morning Consult over the summer, Bale was voted as America's favorite Batman actor, winning 39% of the vote. Keaton came in second at 38%, followed by Batman & Robin star George Clooney at 19%, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League star Ben Affleck at 18%, and Batman Forever star Val Kilmer at 17%. (Poll percentages were based on the number of voters rating each actor "very favorable.")
Robert Pattinson is the next actor to don the cape and cowl, a decision Bale has called "very interesting" and a "good choice."
In July, Batman franchise producer Michael E. Uslan urged fans to give Pattinson a chance when reflecting on initial uproar that surrounded Keaton's casting in the darker and more serious Batman '89, calling it "an uproar like the world had never seen before."
"And understand, this was before computers and before social media, and before there were comic book conventions all over the planet. Just in mainstream media, this became the hottest, most controversial topic all over," Uslan said. "The fans were up in arms: 'How can you have a comedian play Batman? You guys are gonna revert it back to the 1960s show, you're gonna destroy Batman.' Until they saw the movie and saw what Tim Burton's vision was, and how he executed it. And then the fans never wanted anyone else to be Batman."
Warner Bros. next releases Matt Reeves' The Batman June 25, 2021.