March Movie Madness: It Begins

Welcome one and all to The Bonus View‘s March Movie Madness Tournament o’ Death. With the college basketball season nearing its widely popular 64-team tournament, we thought it would fun to create a little tournament of our own. Only this time, basketball teams have been replaced with all sorts of movie characters, from villains to heroes to just plain crazies. Your job as a faithful Bonus View reader is to make sense of this whole thing and then vote on each match-up that comes your way.

You’ll only be asked to do one thing: Vote on who you think would win in a battle to the death. Taking into account what you know about each of these characters, it will be your job to vote them through to the next round or eliminate them where they stand. The weak will fall and the strong will survive.

March Movie Madness Rules

For this first post, we’re going to explain the rules and give you a beginning playoff so that you can get used to what we’re doing.

1. The field of characters was chosen carefully by a selection committee (of one). Sure, some of your favorite characters may have been left out, and yes there may be some characters in here that you’re not necessarily fond of, but the committee tried to span genres, film franchises, and also pick a few dark horse candidates to make things interesting.

2. Seeding was done scientifically by placing numbers on a piece of paper that corresponded with each character and then drawing them out of a bowl.

3. For the first round, each blog post will feature two match-ups, four characters in total. I’ll do my best to describe each match-up. Then it’s up to you to decide who you want to move forward by voting in the poll.

4. The voting will be left open until the next match-up is posted. At that time, the votes will be tallied and the winner of the previous match-ups will be announced on the following match-up post.

5. In case of a tie, the character whose movie made the most money at the box office will continue on.

6. Please use the Comments section below to explain your reasoning. This may sway other voters to your side. Use it to your advantage. Insightful and hilarious comments will be highlighted in later posts.

7. Have about 15 bucket loads of fun!

For everyone who just can’t wait, here’s a look at what the bracket looks like. Click to enlarge.

Now that we’ve got the pesky rules out of the way, let’s turn our attention to the matter at hand. This post will feature our first match-up – a battle royale of sorts. The NCAA recently instituted a play-in game where two schools play for the right to be included in the field of 64. We’re doing the same thing here, only this may get messy.

I wanted to include Batman in the field of contestants, but which Batman do I pick? There have been so many down through the ages, it’s hard to pick the “right” one. I’ll never please everyone, even if I try. So, you the readers get to choose exactly which Batman you’d like to see fight his way through the stiff competition that lies before him.

Adam West Batman – Corny, yes. But he’s the classic, right? He’s the beginning. He’s where it all started. Not voting for Adam West would be akin to not voting for childhood or happiness. How could you do something like that?

Strengths: Has the ability to conjure up powerful exclamations like “POW!” and “WHAM!” while fighting. Temporarily blinding his opponents with giant words appearing seemingly from nowhere, West is able to apprehend the criminal contingent of Gotham.

Weaknesses: He’s encumbered by the lack of coolness from the technology of his time period. He just doesn’t have some of the cooler gadgets we see later on as Batman progresses throughout the ages.

Michael Keaton Batman – We all remember fondly when Keaton was Batman, battling the likes of The Joker and The Penguin all the while keeping those stellar eyebrows in tip-top condition. Credit to Keaton, he brought a sense of coolness to Batman as a character. That goes a long way in my book.

Strengths: Has the coolest Batmobile. It looks the closest to being comic book-like without looking completely ridiculous.

Weaknesses: Seems oddly encumbered by his sturdy but at times immobile Batsuit.

Val Kilmer Batman – When Val Kilmer was still a movie star and as thin as Ice Man, he took on the role of the Caped Crusader. Is his overacted stoic portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman enough to push him over the top?

Strengths: An icy, icy glare.

Weaknesses: Just about everything. Come on, Kilmer flat-out sucked as Batman. If he makes it through, I’ll be upset.

George Clooney Batman – After all the people who came before him, movie star extraordinaire George Clooney single-handedly destroyed the ‘Batman’ franchise. Well, maybe it wasn’t all his fault. The movies had just become ridiculous with endless amounts of cheesy villains, but man, Clooney was awful.

Strengths: Batsuit nipples.

Weaknesses: Batsuit nipples.

Christian Bale Batman – With Christopher Nolan’s visionary take on the franchise, Christian Bale was able to create a more realistic, down-to-Earth Batman that still kicked a whole lot of ass.

Strengths: Gruff-talking Batman voice and complete disregard for reckless endangerment.

Weaknesses: He’s pouty and may rely far too much on Morgan Freeman to keep him supplied with an endless array of weapons.

Now, it’s up to you to throw up a steel cage in your mind. Place each of these Batmen in there and let them duke it out for a right to continue on in the tournament. Again, please use the Comments section to explain why you choose the way you do, and your thought process of getting to that point.

Which Batman Will Be Moving On Into the Tournament?

View Results

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  1. HuskerGuy

    Keaton remains my favorite Batman. Not the best Bruce as that’s probably Bale, but once the Batsuit is on, I’m all Keaton.

    Don’t go chasing waterfalls now.

  2. I’m a huge Batman fan so this was a tough one and I’m kind of surprised you didn’t include Kevin Conroy in here, but I digress. I picked Chiristian Bale, although I grew up with Keaton and highly appreciate his characterization it just isn’t quite kosher for me since he openly killed people (remember that bomb he strapped on the fat guy in Returns?) and stands a terrifying 5’9″. I’d pretty much say the only negative to Bale’s performance is the voice he does, at times it appropriate, at others its forced. I’d prefer if he did his John Connor voice as Batman since it seems to be right between his Wayne and Batman voice in terms of raspiness. Anyway, Bale’s characterization is the one which imitates the comic book’s and would probably be the most likely to survive this epic battle.

    • Alex

      Hear here! I would love to see Kevin Conroy in the battle royale. I guess, though, it’s a slippery slope to start including voice actors. Bruce Davison’s voice work in “Under the Red Hood” was pitch-perfect in my mind, even on par with the great Kevin Conroy, but I would never think of Bruce Davison as Batman.

      • This is true. I was actually shocked by how good the Under the Red Hood movie was mainly because I had read mixed reviews about the comic story line online. I randomly watched in on Netflix one day and was thinking “damn, this is a good Batman movie” because of how well its able to drop you into the world without explanation simply for the fact that the only people who are going to watch it are Batfanatics like you or me.

  3. Alex

    Out of curiosity, on the bracket you’ve got “Kahm”. Is that supposed to be Khan? As in the Wrath of “KKKKHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!”? Is that a different character I’m not familiar with?

  4. If you had asked me a few months ago I would’ve had said Keaton all the way.

    Unfortunatly for me and my rose tinted glasses, I actually rewatched Burton’s Batman this last week.

    Oh it has not aged well. and while Keaton still holds his own, he’s a lot more dramatic with his cape flapping than I recall. Which in context of today, just took it down just enough to let Bale eek out a win. Still love watching Keaton in that character, but the rest of the film was shockingly hard to watch considering how much I adored it way back when. In particular Jack as the joker, some seriously rose tinted glasses I had on there.

    • Ivan Gomez

      The same thing happened to me a few months back, i watched it with the wife (due to her not being at all into comics and the fact that she was too young when it originally came to theaters, she had just saw parts of it) and we where tripped down with the nonsense and cheesyness of the plot and proceedings. And she was all over me for saying that it is a good movie in the past. I guess Nolan spoiled us in big fashion… However, i recomend to give it a month or so to mull on its childhood coolness and comeback to it with less expectations on say, a saturday morning, and you would have fun again with it and thank Burton the memories, at least thats what happened to me. I voted Keaton by the way.

  5. Jason

    Keaton all the way. all things equal (suits, cars, production values) Keaton is far and away the best Batman.

    Keaton’s Batman would never walk into a police precinct and try to interrogate the Joker. His business is on the streets. Plus, Batman doesn’t have time to talk.

  6. Adam West – no question.

    His Batman is goofy sure, but he’s damn good at it. The rest just don’t live up to expectations.

    Bale would have had it if it weren’t for ‘The Dark Knight.

  7. Steve

    You forgot another two weakness of Adam West Batman – he has press-conferences and runs around in the daylight. That’s not exactly the DARK knight that I know of!

    Batman Returns: clown guy takes Selena Kyle hostage in front of Batman. He shoots out a grappling hook-thingy out. “You missed!” and PULLS a chunk of wall out and hits the clown. No spoken words, just kickin’ butt.

  8. Kilmer’s decent, most of Batman Forever is even excusable if you’re aware of all the footage Warner Bros. made Schumacher take out, I forgive him for Batman Forever, not Batman & Robin though. Those are two very different beasts. Anyone hear of them working on a directors cut of Batman Forever? There was a rumor swirling about a couple of years ago but so far its never happened, I know Schumacher is interested but I doubt Warner Bros. is

    • Jason

      I knew Batman Forever was garbage as soon as Batman swings in while Two-face is in the midst of the heist and he stands there with Commissioner Gordon and has a 5 minute conversation about what is going on. Even at 14 years old at the time it was released I was disgusted.

      • Whoa, lets get this right. Half of that conversation was setting up Chase Meridian, his love interest and we all know Bats has a soft spot for letting villains get away in the name of getting laid. I’ll admit Forever is by no means a great Batman movie but Warner Bros really tied Schumacher’s hands. Although that has nothing to do with the quality of logic present in the film, I mean, nobody noticed that green stream of knowledge traveling DIRECTLY towards NygmaTech? C’mon.

  9. i say keaton, he won’t win but he has charisma, that goes a long way in my book

    plus he had a hot kim basinger to work with and jack being jack, it doesn’t hold up to the realistic nolan versions, but it’s still awesome in my mind

  10. I know Bale is going to be the popular choice here, but I voted Keaton…he made me believe a rich guy with a haunted past might “snap” just enough to devote his resources to fighting crime. Bale still seems to young for the role (he’s been helped greatly by good writing and good costars), although he took a big leap forward in “The Dark Knight”. Still, no one thought Keaton could even play Batman, and for two movies he WAS Batman!

  11. Twonunpackmule

    Keaton is easily my favorite Batman. He might not be featured in my favorite Batman film, but he’s easily the strongest of the Live Action bunch. Not too mention, that 87% of all films (this was tested using a highly scientific method) would be improved if they featured Michael Keaton. Just saying. 😉

    The more I watch Bale, the more I see how he was allowed to fumble the ball. He’s a terrible Batman, but a great Bruce Wayne. If it weren’t for the quality performances that the direction that wisely pulls away from Batman…then I feel the films would have fallen apart. I totally think this is why the films seem to feature so little Batman, and more Wayne. Bale is just a terrible Batman.

    Oh well, I like both enough to be perfectly okay with the choices. Not internet fanboy rage. I’m too busy chasing waterfalls.

    The Dark Knight and Batman Returns remain my favorite of the Live Action films. So, it’s definitely a toughy to try and battle.

  12. HuskerGuy

    I’m gonna have to come up with 21 different screen names just to get Keaton back in this race. Come on now people.

    • Jason

      I hear ya. 25 years from now when people look back at Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises it’ll be crystal clear that Keaton was the better Batman. People just love the shiny new-ness of Bale right now.

    • Aaron Peck

      He’s gonna need a lot of help to pull it out though. Gruff-talking Bale is running away with it.

  13. The fact that Bale just won an Oscar isn’t going to help matters, since any argument that Keaton’s a better actor (and I actually think he IS) is probably going to fall on deaf ears.

  14. EM

    Adam West can defeat the rest of those guys while just standing still. His leaps of logic can confound any of those pretentious dullards, who simply couldn’t cope with his coups de théâtre de l’absurde, enshrouded in sound-effect balloons.

  15. To give Clooney some small amount of credit, based solely on how each Batman looks in his respective bat-mask, Clooney is perhaps the most respectable.

    West has those goofy penciled-in eyebrows. Keaton looks too much obviously like himself (his secret identity isn’t hidden at all in that mask). Kilmer looks like a Doberman with those damn pointy ears. And Bale’s mask is about three sizes too small for his head.

    Of course, the rest of the costume (pointy bat-nipples and so forth) totally undoes all that.

  16. To all you Keaton lovers out there, I will agree that he was pretty great in the 1989 film. Aside from the masquerade scene in Batman Returns, however, Bruce Wayne/Batman is on the sidelines for most of the film. They might as well have titled it Penguin and Catwoman.

    Bale got my vote because he was the only Batman to work superheroism out at a nuts and bolts level.

    West might have gotten my vote solely for shark-repellent bat spray.

  17. DP

    Man some of these matchups are harsh. John Mclane/Bond and Rambo/Darth Vader first round? Ouch…

    • Aaron Peck

      It was the nature of the beast. I know. Some of them are harsh, but I didn’t really want to go with seeding, because it would give people a predetermined mindset on who the winner should be. I thought drawing numbers would be the best solution.

      • DP

        I agree that drawing numbers is probably the best solution. You’re not going to have a 12 seed beat a 5 seed in this type of setup as you would in an actual basketball tournament. The randomness keeps the early rounds more interesting. Thanks for putting this all together too. As a huge movie and sports fan, this is right up my alley!

        • Aaron Peck

          Glad you like it! It should be fun here on out. I’m excited to see what happens when we start pitting these characters against each other. It was fun to see all the Batmen duke it out, but what happens when completely different characters from completely different genres start bumping up against one another? Should be loads of fun.

    • I think John McLane and James Bond make a pretty even match. James Bond may have a license to kill, but John McLane simply will never die. Double-0h Sevens either die or retire because they keep replacing them.

      Darth Vader is a lock though. Maybe if John Rambo set up booby traps he could get him, but Vader would sense it and crush Rambo’s windpipe from across the room.

      • Vader’s badass-ness was considerably undermined by the prequel trilogy. All Rambo has to do is show Little Annie a picture of his mommy, and Vader will break down crying, at which point Rambo will grind him into human hamburger with a .50 cal machine gun.

        • I choose to ignore the prequel trilogy. We’re talking Darth Vader, not little orphan Anakin. This is the half-man, half-machine that inspired John William’s “Imperial March,” can yank guns out of people’s hands from fifty feet away, and would sooner choke subordinates than take whatever whiny excuses they’re offering instead of results. This is “The Empire Strikes Back” Darth Vader.

          Against this Darth Vader, John “I didn’t do nothing” Rambo, bad-ass as he may be, stands no chance. I would still root for the Vietnam burnout, but, no, it’s lost.

          • DP

            As tough as voting Rambo’s .50 cal bad-assery out in the first round is, I’d have to agree. You don’t get to running the evilest of all Empires by giving in to a lone PTSD’d Vietnam Vet.

        • A New Hope Vader is a tough son of a bitch. Empire Strikes Back Vader is one of the most absolute, all encompassing cinema evils ever. Return of the Jedi Vader is a whiny little bitch who could be bested by a well placed pretzel or a pissed off Ewok. Vader is a wild card, because he’s too inconsistent as a monster. when he’s on his game, he’s unbeatable. when he’s off, he’s nothing more than the owner of the galaxy’s biggest cod-piece, meant to compensate for the wang that got burnt off on Mustafar.

  18. DP

    Another tough first rounder: As much as I love Indiana Jones how can he possibly beat out Jules? “The path of the righteous man….”

  19. otiskariya

    I went with Keaton. I had to. Just superb. Imagine putting a Michael Keaton in his prime in the Christopher Nolan movies. That would be a stunner. Quote below proves that fact.

    “You wanna get nuts?! Come on, let’s get nuts!”

  20. Jon D

    Has to be West. What other Batman can you play shot games to? Every time a “POW” shows up you down one…….

  21. Ryan

    Can I instead vote for a cinderella squad – kind of like that extra team that gets added in to make it 65 or 66 teams instead of 64 in NCAA? If so, Captain Malcom Reynolds please!

    • Ryan

      In response to my previous comment, maybe it was decided he would be too close to Han Solo… if so, understood.

      • with 64 slots for all tv/cinema heroes and villains, if 1 were to be devoted to a show that couldn’t even get a second season, featuring a rip off han solo, the person to make it would be River, aka Summer Glau, aka the hot one. and even she would get her ass whooped. i mean, even Revenge of the Sith era Vader could take her, and he can’t win any fight unless it’s against that retarded youngling from ep2.

        yeah, i don’t mind invoking Whedon fanboy wrath, but the show never got picked up after being given the AXE. the movie bombed theatrically, iirc. home video sales just aren’t enough when the fans don’t support the works by watching the broadcasts or going to the theater.

        • HuskerGuy

          While I disagree with your reasoning (a show not being on long enough) I do agree with not having him, despite being a Firefly fanboy.

          I’m just satisfied we have some Dr. Horrible representation! Well done Aaron.

  22. come on, Val Kilmer! Shoot, you take the actors, and pretty sure Val could take on all the others by himself. Then his character, father figure to Robin, then that icy stare that shows Jim Carry that he is not as funny as he thinks he is. Add to this cast Tommy Lee Jones, Nicole Kidman, and Drew Barrymore! Lets give a little love for the greatest Batman movie there was (at least, until Batman Begins came out, but that was really a reboot).

    • Adam

      I’d hope you’re being facetious. If that’s a serious argument, you may have just lost any shred of credibility. Haha.

  23. Adam

    I know it’s not a movie, but I want to vote for Abed Batman from Community. Come on – he saved a cowboy AND the Beastmaster from a collapsing chair fort. And he’s like 1000 times wittier than any of the other Batmans. Failing that, Michael Keaton all the way!

  24. Adam

    I’m also afraid I have a bone to pick with your seeding system – how in the world to John McClane and James Bond end up in the first round together? They’re like 1 seeds, or maybe 1,2 or 1,3, somewhere in there. They shouldn’t meet up until way down the road.

    • Apologies. But, picking numbers was the fairest way possible to do this, and it gives us first round matchups that aren’t just pushovers. Plus if I did seeding then there would be people that wouldn’t agree with that. Finally, seeding would take far too much time to figure it out. I don’t have that kind of free time to do seeding for a field of 64 characters.

      • Aaron Peck

        I really do wonder how it will all pan out. Will Han Solo win because of fanboyism? Because in a fight there are plenty of other characters that could physically kick is butt.

        • I was thinking the same thing. I’m voting based on who I think would actually win rather than who I’d root for. (Batman round excluded, voted for Keaton but I think Bale would kick his ass mightily.)

        • EM

          In fiction, the winner is whom the author chooses to be the winner; and here, the voters are the authors. Of course, an author doesn’t always choose his favorite as the winner, but favoritism is a factor. And the author can channel that favoritism through factors beyond theoretical fighting ability. For example: In whose eyes will the author shine the sun’s rays?

          I am reminded of a passage from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition #12 (1986):

          Every once in a while amidst the burgeoning stack of data corrections that you eagle-eyed readers send in, I receive a letter that goes something like this: “Thank you for publishing the strength levels of all the characters. Now I know who would win in a fight.” Whoa! Slow down! Wait a minute there! Since when, I ask those readers who have commented thusly, is strength the sole determining factor in winning battles? I can think of plenty of other contributing factors: fighting skills, endurance, experience, resistance to injury, attitude toward one’s opponent on the day of the fight, will to win, current mood and state of health—the factors are numerous if not endless. What that means is just because the Hulk can lift (press) 100 plus tons under optimal conditions and the Thing can only lift (press) 85 tons under optimal conditions, the Hulk is not going to win every single fight. In fact if you’ve read enough Thing-Hulk bouts, you know this is not the case. There have even been times when “normal” level combatants like Captain America and Daredevil have managed to subdue the Hulk (temporarily at least). What that meant was Cap and DD were fighting as hard and as well as they’ve ever managed to fight in their lives, and the Hulk was really having an off day. But it happened. And it’s happened often enough for you to not be able to predict any given fight just from Strength Level statistics.

          • Aaron Peck

            You’re getting deeper than I ever planned on getting for this tournament, but I like it. Bring it on. Hopefully, everyone puts this kind of thought into their choices. Should be fun if we all do.