Who would ever have thought that a billionaire playboy who dresses up to fight criminals dressed as a bat with a bondage penchant would become the world's most enduring character?
Batman has transcended the normal limits of typical character existence: despite the potential to become a camp action hero parody, he has been overseen over the years by hundreds of genius writers who have crafted a complex, irresistibly fragmented universe around him. And no matter how much Marvel fanboys insist that he simply doesn't have the charismatic appeal of the Avengers, he remains the MVP of comic book superheroes.
Even more than that, the cowled hero is also the reigning MVP of comic book movies. He might have been dragged somewhat through the mire by Joel Schumacher's ill-fated period of control, and Batman v Superman might not be winning too many fans among critics, but Batman is a legitimate banker even when DC movies aren't competing generally with the MCU.
And for good reason. That's why DC and Warner Bros sabotaged Man Of Steel 2 to add him in, and it's also why there would have been stand-alone future Batman films even if Ben Affleck had spectacularly failed in the role.
But which of the 15 actors to have played Batman and Bruce Wayne on screen has done the character the most justice? And most importantly of all, where does Affleck rank?
Coming off the back of his show stealing performance in ER (which he was yet to leave full-time), Clooney was still a Hollywood greenhorn in 1998, and hadn't quite found his smooth groove. Later Clooney would have nailed Bruce Wayne, and could have offered a far more interesting Batman too, but with Schumacher's god-awful script and similarly terrible directing, he was made to look like a fool.
Commanded to work with material akin to Adam West's 1960s camp-fest, but to play "straight" in a very specific way (i.e. showing little genuine emotion, rather than playing it detached), Clooney is horribly wooden and barely seems like he cares.
So even though there was a lot of potential, Clooney's performance was so reduced that it seemed he'd only been cast because his chin looked phenomenal poking out of the Bat-cowl.