Batman has now existed for the best part of a century. And his 85-year-long campaign against the scum of Gotham City has taken on many forms. Comic books, live-action movies, animated shows, animated movies, video games, novels — the list is as long as Arkham Asylum’s patient manifest at any given time of the year. There’s nowhere the iconic Caped Crusader won’t find the likes of The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Poison Ivy.

The Dark Knight himself has taken on many forms, too. Kevin Conroy, Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, Ben Affleck, and Robert Pattinson — this isn’t an exhaustive list, but these are the most notable actors to have donned the cowl.

Now, several beloved iterations of the iconic, grapple-hook-wielding, smoke-bomb-dropping superhero are set to return across all forms of media.

DC Comics’ Several Ongoing “Batman” Stories

Credit: DC Comics

It’s impossible to keep up with all the “Batman” comic books in existence. The Caped Crusader made his first appearance in print in the anthology series “Detective Comics” (issue 27) in May 1939, so you’d need to be “The World’s Greatest Detective” to track down all the countless publications featuring the character that span the last 85 years (and probably a billionaire, too). There are likely several hundred, possibly thousands, of entries.

Still, there’s a plethora of “Batman” comic books that won’t require you to become a regular auction attendee. But if you’re new to the world of Gotham City in the graphic novel format, “The New 52” series (2012 — 2016) is a great starting point. Otherwise, there are several ongoing stories, such as “Infinite Frontier” (2021 — present), while DC Comics is continuously blasting out new standalone iterations.

The crime fighter’s career in film is nothing compared to his comic book history — the Batcave wouldn’t be anywhere near big enough to house all the titles that span the last eight and a half decades (even LEGO Batman has his own series!).

Another series worth calling out is the ongoing “Batman ’89” (2021 — present) run, which features the likeness of actors such as Michael Keaton (Bruce Wayne), Michelle Pfeiffer (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), and Billy Dee Williams (Harvey Dent) from Tim Burton’s movies.

Head to DC Comics to browse all the many offerings.

Related: Confirmed: Michael Keaton’s Batman Will Finally Return in Direct Sequel to 1989 Film

Kevin Conroy’s Batman — “Batman: Arkham Shadow”

Credit: Eidos Interactive / Warner Bros. Games / Rocksteady Studios (Publisher)

The “Batman: Arkham” video game series remains incredibly popular with fans. The main titles are “Batman: Arkham Asylum” (2009), Batman: Arkham City” (2011), “Batman: Arkham Origins” (2013), “Batman: Arkham Knight” (2015), “Batman: Arkham VR” (2016), and “Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League” (2024) — which garnered some controversy for killing off the iconic hero — as well as several spinoff editions.

The series is a gritty iteration closer to DC Comics than any of the film versions. Not even Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy (2005 — 2012) or Matt Reeves’ The Batman (2022) come close to the bleak and semi-dystopian cyberpunk style of the “Batman: Arkham” games.

Like the comics, Batman has an extensive history in gaming, too, but so far, “Arkham” is the only series set to continue. Recently, the first trailer for the series’ second VR (virtual reality) title premiered. “Batman: Arkham Shadow” (2024) will be released on the Meta Quest 3 later this year. However, it remains to be seen who will voice Batman in the game. The late Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy lent his vocal talents to the series with the exception of “Origins,” in which Roger Craig Smith took up the mantle.

Jensen Ackles — Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths — Part Three

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

There are several “parts” to the wider DC franchise (not to be confused with the DC Universe/DCU in film). In addition to the DCU and DC’s “Elseworlds” (read on to find out what this is) is the “Tomorrowverse,” the name given to a shared universe that consists of DC/Warner Bros. animated movies that feature the likes of Bruce Wayne/Batman, Clark Kent/Superman, and other members of the Justice League.

Among those films is Justice League: Crisis on Infinite Earths (2024), which began in January and has a third installment releasing on July 16. In the films, Bruce Wayne/Batman is voiced by Jensen Ackles, who you might recognize as Dean Winchester from the TV series Supernatural (2005 — 2020) and Solider Boy from The Boys (2019– present).

Related: Michael Keaton’s Batman History Explained as Official “Burton-Verse” Sequel Looms

Robert Pattinson — The Batman — Part II

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

In the world of live action, things start to get quite confusing, so straight off the, ahem, “bat,” it’s worth noting that Matt Reeves’ The Batman universe exists within DC’s “Elseworlds,” a corner of the wider franchise reserved for movies and television shows that occupy independent timelines and, as such, aren’t connected to one another or the DC Universe (DCU) — whether that’s the old DCU or the upcoming one — in any way, shape, or form.

Robert Pattinson’s Gotham vigilante will be returning in The Batman — Part II (2026), which will be released in theaters on October 2, 2026 (it was initially set for release this October but was delayed due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes). The film also sees the return of director Matt Reeves and Zoë Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Jeffrey Wright as Commissioner James Gordon.

The upcoming television series spinoff The Penguin (2024), which sees the return of Colin Farrell as Oswald “Oz” Cobblepot/The Penguin, will be released on HBO Max later this year. It’s unknown whether Robert Pattison will appear as The World’s Greatest Detective in the series, but it will likely see the return of other characters from the 2022 film.

Michael Keaton — “Batman: Resurrection”

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Michael Keaton’s Bat of Gotham remains a fan-favorite iteration on the silver screen. First appearing in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), Keaton’s Dark Knight returned three years later in Batman Returns (1992), the sequel that reunited him with the visionary director. While we were supposed to see the beloved Beetlejuice (1988) actor don the cape and cowl again in Batgirl, unfortunately, it was canceled by Warner Bros. in 2022.

Fortunately, Keaton reprised his role in the DC Universe (DCU) crossover movie The Flash (2023), appearing alongside Ben Affleck’s version of the character, with cameos from Adam West (created using CGI and stock footage) and George Clooney from Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin (1997). Now, Keaton’s version of the character is set to return in the upcoming novel “Batman: Resurrection” (2024) from author John Jackson Miller.

The brand-new story takes place before Returns and acts as a “direct sequel” to Tim Burton’s 1989 film. It sees the return of several characters from both movies, including Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Gough). It will be released on October 15.

Related: Upcoming ‘Batman’ (1989) Sequel: Every Returning Character Explained

Dante Pereira-Olson — Joker: Folie à Deux

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Also part of DC’s “Elseworlds” are Joker (2019) and Joker: Folie à Deux (2024), which releases in theaters on October 4 this year. While the first film from director Todd Phillips focuses on Arthur Fleck/Joker (Joaquin Phoenix), the Clown Prince of Gotham in the making, it still takes place in Gotham City and, therefore, in the same world as Batman. In fact, we even see a young Bruce Wayne (Dante Pereira-Olson) in the film.

Joker: Folie à Deux is a direct sequel to the 2019 film and sees the return of Arthur Fleck as he continues on his dark path to becoming the iconic villain, Joker. However, this time, it also features Harley Quinn (Lady Gaga) — although it remains to be seen whether any other Gotham City regulars will appear, including young Bruce, as Dante Pereira-Olson doesn’t appear in the cast list, nor has the character been mentioned anywhere.

In an interview with Variety in 2020, Todd Phillips showed an interest in eventually including Batman in the Joker film series, saying, “What I would like to see someone tackle is what Batman looks like from that Gotham. I’m not saying I’m going to do that. What was interesting to me about the inclusion of Batman in our movie was ‘What kind of Batman does that Gotham make?’”

Will Any Other Batman Actors Return?

Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

There are many other actors who’ve played Batman who aren’t set to return.

We know that The Flash was DC Universe star Ben Affleck’s final outing as Gotham’s savior, which makes sense because the DCU is now being reset and will feature a Batman reboot titled The Brave and the Bold (TBA), with a new actor taking up the mantle. Ben Affleck appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League (2017), Justice League (2021), and The Flash.

As for The Dark Knight trilogy star Christian Bale, while he did recently “return” in a fan-made trailer, he has spoken on a number of occasions about his lack of interest in doing a fourth film in Christopher Nolan’s series, as the intention was only ever to do three.

Sadly, Batman Forever (1995) star Val Kilmer didn’t appear in The Flash so it’s unlikely he’ll ever return. Although the 2023 Multiverse movie somehow manages to canonize and de-canonize the two Joel Schumacher movies — not even The Riddler can decipher that mess.

Which version of Bruce Wayne/Batman are you most excited to see return? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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