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.


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

Everett Collection

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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?

circa 1932 Portrait of Robert Lowery the Hollywood film actor.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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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

American actor Adam West best known for his TV role as Batman with a great dane he calls 'Batdog' circa 1967.

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CULVER CITY CA  MAY 02 Adam West attends Family Guy Another Freakin' Mobile Game Live Stream on May 2 2017 in Culver...

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NEW YORK NY  OCTOBER 06  Actor Adam West attends the Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders Press Room at New York...

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Actor Adam West  and Wired magazine publisher Howard Mittman attend the WIRED Cafe during day 2 of ComicCon at Palm...

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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.

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