Entertainment

Gen X, Rejoice: Michael Keaton Is America’s Favorite Batman

Keaton earned the highest net favorability rating for his portrayal of the Caped Crusader, ranking above Adam West and Christian Bale

Michael Keaton as Batman in the 1989 film. Of all the portrayals of Batman, Keaton's performance had the highest net favorability rating according to U.S. adults, per new Morning Consult data. (YouTube screenshot / Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Robert Pattinson’s performance in “The Batman,” which became available to stream on HBO Max this week, was generally well-received by film critics. U.S. adults in general, however, are so far less enthusiastic about the former teen heartthrob’s take on the iconic DC Comics hero.

A new Morning Consult survey finds that, while many younger viewers are fans of Pattinson’s take, the American public overall prefers the performances of previous Batmen: namely Michael Keaton, who first donned the cape and cowl in 1989’s “Batman.” Christian Bale’s portrayal was also admired across generations.

Michael Keaton Is America’s Batman

Net favorability of Batman portrayals, by generation

Net favorability is the share of respondents with a favorable opinion minus the share with an unfavorable opinion.
Survey conducted April 9-11, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/- 2 percentage points.
Keaton beats out Bale, West, Pattinson as No. 1 Batman
  • Among U.S. adults, Keaton’s portrayal of Batman had the highest net favorability rating (the share of respondents with a favorable opinion minus the share with an unfavorable opinion) of the seven actors, at 56. Adam West, who played Batman in the 1960s TV series, was second-most popular with a net favorability rating of 49, while Bale, who assumed the role in Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, came in third at 45. 
  • When respondents were asked to pick one Batman performance as their favorite, clear generational divides emerged. Baby boomers largely preferred West (38%), while a third of Gen Xers and millennials each picked Keaton and Bale, respectively. Gen Zers were more divided as Bale, Pattinson and Ben Affleck tied for first place, with each actor getting 16% of the vote from the cohort.  
Pattinson’s popularity could grow with time

Audiences have only recently been introduced to Pattinson’s take on the character, and as more viewers see the film for the first, or fifth, time on HBO Max, his place in the Batmen rankings could rise. Given the film’s strong showing at the box office, there is likely to be a sequel (or several), which would also raise Pattinson’s profile as the Caped Crusader.

Still, the 35-year-old Pattinson is favored among younger generations. He has a net favorability rating of 18 among millennials and 22 among Gen Zers and was Gen Z’s second-most popular Batman behind Affleck. Pattinson-related content is pervasive on TikTok, where users will often imitate the grungy nature of the film and the actor’s heavy eyeliner. 

Survey conducted April 9-11, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult