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Which Batman Actor Is the Biggest Sneakerhead?

Photograph: Getty Images; Collage: Gabe Conte

There are a few things an actor needs to be cast as Batman: a strong jaw, the physical constitution to withstand being wholly encased in rubber for hours on end, and, as it turns out, a killer collection of sneakers.

In a subculture-crossover event for the ages, the Dark Knight has developed a long and curious history with notable kicks. In the ’90s Tim Burton flicks, Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne wore tech-y batboots built atop a base of Nike Air Trainers and Air Jordans (who could’ve dreamed up a better marketing strategy than Batman leaving jumpman prints all over Gotham?); meanwhile, the real-life Keaton’s been known to flex his sneakerhead bonafides every now and then. Val Kilmer likes weird sneakers, too; so does Robert Pattinson, on a good day.

And all of this is to say nothing, of course, of one Benjamin Géza Affleck, Hollywood’s preeminent sneaker hobbyist.

But not every guy who’s ever played a live-action Batman (the ultra-polished George Clooney; the sartorially aloof Christian Bale) is moving through the world like a walking “GOT ’EM” screen. So, let’s consider all nine live-action Batmen—from Lewis Wilson (The Batman, 1943) to Robert Pattinson (The Batman, 2022)—and see how they square up as real-life sneaker fans.


Lewis Wilson, center, in Sailor’s Holiday (1944)

lewis wilson batman MBDSAHO_EC008.jpg

Lewis Wilson, center, in Sailor’s Holiday (1944)
Everett Collection
<h1 class="title">lewis wilson batman MBDBATM_EC002.jpg</h1><cite class="credit">Everett Collection</cite>

lewis wilson batman MBDBATM_EC002.jpg

Everett Collection

Lewis Wilson — The Batman serial series (1943)

Can’t say there are too many photos of Lewis Wilson out there on the internet, but given the suede steppers Batman and Robin were sporting back in 1943, it’s safe to guess that the OG Bruce Wayne was not a sneakerhead.

Sneakerhead rating: 0.25, because considering the era, he maybe wore Chuck Taylors in an athletic setting at some point?

<h1 class="title">Robert Lowery</h1><cite class="credit">Hulton Archive/Getty Images</cite>

Robert Lowery

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">Robert Lowery batman MBDNEAD_EC007.jpg</h1><cite class="credit">Everett Collection</cite>

Robert Lowery batman MBDNEAD_EC007.jpg

Everett Collection

Robert Lowery — Batman and Robin serial series (1949)

There are similarly few candid photographs of Robert Lowery, who worked pretty steadily through Hollywood’s studio-system years. That said, his oeuvre offered scant costume opportunities to wear anything but hard-bottomed shoes. By the late 1960s, he was acting almost exclusively in Westerns—not exactly a hotbed of sneaker activity, either.

However, Lowery’s IMDb biography does say he was a multi-sport athlete (boxing, football) who briefly played minor-league baseball on the old Kansas City Blues team, and it feels reasonable to assume that he would have worn a sporty shoe for at least several of these activities. (Per his bio, he left the Blues after suffering a pelvis-breaking field injury and then “built himself back to strength working at a paper factory in Kansas City.” Wow! They really are not making men like this anymore.)

Sneakerhead rating: 2.3, solely due to his reported athleticism

<h1 class="title">West And Batdog</h1><cite class="credit">Hulton Archive/Getty Images</cite>

West And Batdog

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">"Family Guy Another Freakin' Mobile Game" Live Stream</h1><cite class="credit">Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images</cite>

"Family Guy Another Freakin' Mobile Game" Live Stream

Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">2016 New York Comic Con - Day 1</h1><cite class="credit">Mike Coppola/Getty Images</cite>

2016 New York Comic Con - Day 1

Mike Coppola/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">WIRED Cafe at Comic-Con - Day 2</h1><cite class="credit">Robert Benson/Getty Images</cite>

WIRED Cafe at Comic-Con - Day 2

Robert Benson/Getty Images

Adam West — Batman TV series (1966-68)

Okay, now we’re cooking with gas. Even though Adam West’s Batman still wore flat-bottomed leather boots similar to his 1940s predecessors’, the real-life Adam West became something of a sneaker guru later in life. By 2000, he voicing a fictionalized version of himself, Mayor Adam West, on Family Guy, and up until his death in 2017, he made the rounds at various Comic-Cons in comfy Nike Frees and even a pair of beige New Balance 990s—albeit in 2017, wearing them as they were originally intended: daddishly.

There is also a great photo of West on a beach in 1967, where he’s wearing white tennis shoes and posing with a Great Dane named Batdog. A solid indicator of sneakers to follow.

Sneakerhead rating: 5.9

<h1 class="title">MICHAEL KEATON</h1><cite class="credit">Frank Trapper/Getty Images</cite>

MICHAEL KEATON

Frank Trapper/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - June 07, 2017</h1><cite class="credit">PG/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - June 07, 2017

PG/Bauer-Griffin
<h1 class="title">Los Angeles Special Screening Of "Knox Goes Away"</h1><cite class="credit">Olivia Wong/Getty Images</cite>

Los Angeles Special Screening Of "Knox Goes Away"

Olivia Wong/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - March 13, 2024</h1><cite class="credit">JOCE/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - March 13, 2024

JOCE/Bauer-Griffin

Michael Keaton — Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), and The Flash (2022)

As the chronology goes, Michael Keaton’s Batman and Michael Jordan were contemporaries during the first wave of sneakermania; around the time when MJ won his first championship wearing the brand-new Tinker Hatfield-designed Air Jordan XI in 1991, the Nike team designed a modified pair (all black with knee-high leather guards, with the jumpman sole and everything) for the Dark Knight to wear in the 1992 sequel. That same year, the actor himself stepped into the wet cement with a fresh pair of Jack Purcells during his “hand- and footprints ceremony” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Since then, the man’s worn Vans Old Skools and many, many pairs of rich-dude suede slip-on sneakers. Just this last week, he sported “Reverse Curry” Dunks on Jimmy Kimmel and Off-White’s “Out of Office” sneakers to a screening of his latest film, Knox Goes Away.

Ben Affleck may be the Batman multiverse’s sneakerhead-in-chief, but Keaton is a very close comrade.

Sneakerhead rating: a rising 8.4

<h1 class="title">Val Kilmer Attends "Top Gun" Screening</h1><cite class="credit">Gary Miller/Getty Images</cite>

Val Kilmer Attends "Top Gun" Screening

Gary Miller/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">Val Kilmer's HelMel Studios Presents GLAM Art Exhibition</h1><cite class="credit">Tasia Wells/Getty Images</cite>

Val Kilmer's HelMel Studios Presents GLAM Art Exhibition

Tasia Wells/Getty Images

Val Kilmer — Batman Forever (1995)

Particularly in the last decade or so, Val Kilmer’s idiosyncratic personal style has made an ideal backdrop for a pair of funky sneakers. Since 2013 (when the actor tweeted the exclamation “NIKE SUPREME tennis ball yello!!! Ridiculous!!!” with a photo of his feet clad in said “yello” sneakers), he’s worn cushy Hokas, tie-dye Asics, and fluorescent-soled Air Jordan Futures with loaded-up turquoise jewelry, scarves, and statement socks.

In short, Kilmer’s sneaker sensibility is Ridiculous!!!

Sneakerhead rating: 7.2

<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In New York - February 13, 2023</h1><cite class="credit">Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In New York - February 13, 2023

Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings Ahead Of The 80th Venice International Film Festival</h1><cite class="credit">Jacopo Raule/Getty Images</cite>

Celebrity Sightings Ahead Of The 80th Venice International Film Festival

Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

George Clooney — Batman and Robin (1997)

Clooney may have been the only Batman with nipples, but in real life he’s not much of a sneaker person. Aside from the occasional Adidas tennis shoe when he’s on vacation or out filming, he’s generally more of a suede-chukkas-and-a-Nespresso kind of guy.

Sneakerhead rating: 4.2

<h1 class="title">69th Berlinale International Film Festival</h1><cite class="credit">Anadolu/Getty Images</cite>

69th Berlinale International Film Festival

Anadolu/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - March 07, 2017</h1><cite class="credit">BG004/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - March 07, 2017

BG004/Bauer-Griffin

Christian Bale — The Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012)

Something tells me that Christian Bale is too busy pondering oblivion to care about which shoes he’s putting on his feet. Is it an Adidas Gazelle? Is it an off-brand Dunk lookalike? Doesn’t matter.

Bale’s detached personal style actually reminds me of Robert Pattinson’s in a way, but we’ll get to him later…

Sneakerhead rating: 3.4

<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - February 27, 2024</h1><cite class="credit">Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - February 27, 2024

Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - February 01, 2024</h1><cite class="credit">Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - February 01, 2024

Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - May 20, 2023</h1><cite class="credit">thecelebrityfinder/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - May 20, 2023

thecelebrityfinder/Bauer-Griffin
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - February 09, 2024</h1><cite class="credit">Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In Los Angeles - February 09, 2024

Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin

Ben Affleck — Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), Justice League (2017), Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021), and The Flash (2022)

Chances are if you’ve made it this far in a Gentlemen’s Quarterly blog post about which of the live-action Batmen are sneakerheads, you already know that Ben Affleck basically wears a new pair of rare Nikes whenever he gets photographed by paparazzi, which is very often. Hell, this man threw on a curly wig and kicked his bare feet up onto a mahogany desk to play Nike CEO Phil Knight in the 2023 movie Air, which he also directed. In a brighter timeline, Affleck’s Batman would’ve been saving Gotham in modified Nikes, too.

Because for Ben, loving sneakers is not just a lifestyle. It is dogma.

Sneakerhead rating: 9.6, because there always has to be room to grow

<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In New York City - April 06, 2019</h1><cite class="credit">Gotham</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - April 06, 2019

Gotham
<h1 class="title">Robert Pattinson & Pete Davidson Visit "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"</h1><cite class="credit">Theo Wargo/Getty Images</cite>

Robert Pattinson & Pete Davidson Visit "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon"

Theo Wargo/Getty Images
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings In New York - February 22, 2024</h1><cite class="credit">Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin</cite>

Celebrity Sightings In New York - February 22, 2024

Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin
<h1 class="title">Celebrity Sightings - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2020-2021 : Day Four</h1><cite class="credit">Pierre Suu/Getty Images</cite>

Celebrity Sightings - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2020-2021 : Day Four

Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Robert Pattinson — The Batman (2022)

Like his Bat-predecessor Christian Bale, Robert Pattinson’s main style concerns are comfort and nondescript practicality (think: cargo shorts and dusted utility-wear). It wouldn’t technically be wrong to say that RPatz is about as much of a sneakerhead as any other guy who tends to wear sneakers a lot. (Sure, he wore the Dior Jordan 1s once, though that probably had more to do with the fact that he’s been a longtime Dior ambassador than anything else.) But like any famous guy who’s had a steady cash flow for the last couple decades, he has his favorites: On Running for sport, and Palace x Adidas trainers for everything else.

As he told British GQ back in 2020, he sources the Palace kicks on eBay and Depop: “A fresh pair of them only comes up every eight months or so,” he said. “I had a pair of them stolen off me once, but I saw them on eBay and I know I bought them back off the thief. I have alerts on when they’re being sold; I’ll soon own every pair in existence.”

Sneakerhead rating: a surprising 7.1

Originally Appeared on GQ


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