Pucker up, Bat-fans.Image: Warner Bros.
Last night, we got our very important first glimpse at Robert Pattinson suited up as the latest live-action incarnation of Batman. Glimpse is a diplomatic word for it, frankly—softly shot, lit in red, and barely lit at that, we did not get to see much of this new Batman. Not even a full cowl! But we saw enough to rank him by a very important part of the Batman look. His lips.
The Batcowl masks Bruce Wayne from the world around him, but it reveals to us the window to the batsoul. Not the eyes, because frankly, it was always a mistake that live-action Batman had normal eyes instead of an attempt to do the white covers. Instead, it gives us Batman’s lips. Batlips are vital to the bat-aesthetic, they’re how Batman must emote to friend and foe alike—what is a Dark Knight without their grimace, or their smirk, or their growl? Heavy is the head that dons the cowl, but once it is donned, heavy is the lip that…lips it? Anyway, we got a look at RBatz’s lips, and frankly, readers, that is enough for us to match him up to his cinematic forebears and see where he ranks in this vital aspect of the Batman visage.
Some ground rules for disclosure: No TV-only Batmen are included. Adam West gets by on the greatest Batman movie of all time, Batman: The Movie, but Gotham’s lil’ Brucie David Mazouz and iconic animated Batman Kevin Conroy, who portrayed a live-action Bruce Wayne in Crisis on Infinite Earths, will not be found here. Also, crucially, these are not rankings of mere lips, but Bat-lips. Context is important; the way Bruce Wayne carries himself as Bruce Wayne and as Batman differs, and therefore, for scientific purposes, this is about the lips within the context of Batman—the outfit, the cowl, the brooding.
So, without further ado: Batman’s lips.
The jury’s still out on these.Image: Matt Reeves (Vimeo)
8) Robert Pattinson (The Batman)
Maybe it’s unfair—after all, we’ve barely seen them in action. They’re darkly lit. But these are some pretty meager lips for a Batman, and neither the context nor the soft cowl is doing them any favors. Outside of the cowl, in the cold light of day perhaps, these lips could shine. But in Batman’s arena of choice, in the dark, in his mask? RBatz doesn’t quite hang.
Good form, but falls flat elsewhere.Image: Warner Bros.
7) Ben Affleck (Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League)
Good structure here—the top lip is even a little bat-logo shaped!—is sadly let down by the fact that these are pretty tiny lips that get lost in a standard batcowl. Batfleck’s cowl doesn’t flatter him in general, but these angular, sharp lips are perhaps better paired with this Batman’s armored suit more than his standard costume.
Too full for their own bat-good.Image: Columbia Pictures
6) Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin)
The cowl and its sadly-floppy ears didn’t do the very first live-action Batman many favors, but man, even then. These are some almost distressingly full lips. It’s too much, combined with a tight, almost puckered resting state. A Batman for the ducklip era, approximately half a century before his time.
Some good, middle of the road Bat-lips. We swear on it.Image: Warner Bros.
5) Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises)
The majority of Batmen so far have had fairly thin lips, but Bale’s Batman strikes a fine line between good, lengthy lip structure and fullness to create some very solid Batlips. Middle of the road, a jack of all lip-trades, a lip-master of none.
Sharp lips, sharp cowl.Image: Warner Bros.
4) George Clooney (Batman & Robin)
Like Affleck, there is good structure here, albeit a little out of balance thanks to that thin top lip. But not only does their larger size fill out the unmasked area more, their sharp lines are complimented, nay, accentuated by the cowl’s own severe edges. Lips, working with cowl, in solid Bat-unison.
A bold lip for a bold era.Image: Warner Bros.
3) Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns)
Batman’s return to a bold, gothic aesthetic needed lips to match, and Michael Keaton delivered. Not sacrificing length for fullness, these are indeed bold lips: They fill the cowl out where lesser lips would give way to its severity.
The Bright Knight Shines.Image: 20th Century Fox
2) Adam West (Batman: The Movie)
The Bright Knight does indeed have bright lips to match—a classical luster married with what is a near-flawless ratio of fullness to width. These aren’t the severely-structured lips of a darker Batman, but soft, rounded. These are lips that would indeed Batusi, if lips could dance.
The lips by which all Batmen must be judged.Image: Warner Bros.
1) Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
These are, frankly, the greatest hits of Bat-lips. Kilmer’s Batman may not have lips with a particularly unique trait of their own, but they take the best elements of all good Batlips—the sharp structures of a Clooney or an Affleck, the fullness of a Bale, the sheen of a West. It hangs this collection of Bat-lip ideals across a long, deftly angled pout to create a truly stellar mouth shape, perfectly framed by a cowl that balances soft curves and sharp lines as if to mirror the very lips they frame, a duo as iconic as the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder.
Bat-lips forever, indeed.
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