A parade of actors have heroically taken on the role of Batman during the Caped Crusader's 45-year tenure on the big screen. We survey the men behind the masks

By Darren Franich
July 22, 2011 at 04:00 AM EDT

Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
Box Office: Batman Begins, $205.3 million (2005); The Dark Knight, $533.3 million (2008)
Love Interests: Katie Holmes, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Bat Nipples? No
Fun Fact: When The Dark Knight hit theaters July 18, 2008, it took in $158.4 million over opening weekend, a record-setting tally that held until a certain boy wizard blasted it to smithereens. Knight was also notable for another achievement: While the armorlike costume Christian Bale wore in Batman Begins was hailed as an improvement upon the increasingly outré ensembles of the ’90s Batman films, the sequel introduced a sleeker Batsuit, with an eye toward mobility. Thus Bale became the first onscreen Caped Crusader since the ’60s to possess the ability to move his own neck.

Batman & Robin
Box Office: $107.3 million (1997)
Love Interest: Elle Macpherson
Bat Nipples? Yes
Fun Fact: George Clooney spent years apologizing for the movie, claiming that he ”buried the franchise.” Maybe, but the codpieces certainly didn’t help.

Batman Forever
Box Office: $184 million (1995)
Love Interest: Nicole Kidman
Bat Nipples? Yes
Fun Fact: Val Kilmer was a terror on set; director Joel Schumacher told EW that the mercurial actor was ”irrational and ballistic.” Holy missed sequel op, Batman!

Batman/Batman Returns
Box Office: Batman, $251.2 million (1989); Batman Returns, $162.8 million (1992)
Love Interests: Kim Basinger, Michelle Pfeiffer
Bat Nipples? No
Fun Fact: Fans sent thousands of letters protesting Michael Keaton’s casting.

Batman: The Movie
Box Office: N/A (1966)
Love Interest: Burt Ward… er, Lee Meriwether
Bat Nipples? Only if Mr. Freeze is around
Fun Fact: Adam West later voiced several Batman cartoons. Alas, rumors of a cameo in 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises are untrue.