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Which Batman Was the Greatest Detective? (Live Action)

Updated: 3 days ago



We tackle which of the live action Batman was actually the “World’s Greatest Detective” by ranking each Batman based on detective skills. Includes our breakdown of the Internet criticisms on the detective work in The Batman and our own take on what we think is unfair vs. what we think Battinson should have caught.


Batman art by Brian Ewing from the cover of Detective Comics 776


Chapters:


0:15 Episode Introduction

This ties into a previous episode where we evaluated the same Batmen n which ones killed and which ones didn't.



The Key Issues episode that Ben references can be viewed here:




3:23 What Makes a Good Detective?- Our Criteria


19:46 Judging Detective’s Mistakes


22:56 The Batmen We’re Judging + Kevin Conroy Tribute


30:24 Lewis Wilson (The Batman 1943)

Here's Ben's complete breakdown of Wilson's strengths and weaknesses as a detective:


Episode 1

He recognizes, on sight, the car they were previously following that belongs to the henchmen of the villain Dr. Daka.


Episode 2:

This Batman also seems very good at predicting criminal behavior. He correctly suspects that Linda is about to walk into a trap at the Blue Parrot and goes to follow her (though relies on Dick who fucks it up).


He also knows not to fall into the trap of trying the door that the criminals locked up.

Episode 2 is also ne of the few times in live action that we see Bruce Wayne in a lab coat and using the crime lab.


Episode 3:

He knows the police won’t find the crew at their hideout at the House of the Open Door


He looks through the thug’s coat for identification and sees the map that indicates that they’ll attack the railroad that night


Episode 4:

Identifies that the gun uses radium


Sees what the criminals took from Linda and figures out that they’re after the radium


Knows what streets to take to avoid traffic


Episode 5

Knows that an advertisement is actually a coded message from Washington


Knows how to uncover the invisible ink to see the coded message.


Episode 6:

Shows knowledge of the process of extracting radium


Knows that the bug that Robin found means that Ken is in danger


Knows that the criminals will be lost in the traffic and when not to pursue them


Knows that Colton’s meeting with Warren is a trap and has Alfred go in disguise


Episode 7:

In one of the most impressive displays, he figures out that Colton’s ambulance was fake and smells the odor of chloroform from the room he was taken from. He takes evidence back to the lab, deducing that Colton was kidnapped.


In the lab, he uses blacklight to identify the Japanese laundry that’s tied to Dr. Daka


Episode 8

Identifies that the Native American is selling bowls carved from the same rock that Colton showed them.


Identifies Daka’s gang’s car and that they forced Colton to take them to his mine


Episode 10

Figures that Daka’s man Fletcher won’t be at the Sphinx Club after Robin’s attack


Knows that the painting’s being used to spy on him


Episode 11

Knows they won’t be at the same house as before after blowing his cover as Chuck White.


Episode 12:

Recognizes one of the thugs on site when they arrive at the police station


Sees the cigarette and takes it to the lab to identify that it contains a poison


Knows it’s suspicious when Linda stands him up and correctly deduces that she’s in trouble


Knows that the guard is lying to him when he sees the car parked outside


Episode 13:

Knows the dead end in the secret passageway can’t be real


Episode 14

Figures out why Daka caused the cave in.


Knows it’s useless to test for fingerprints on Linda’s note since the men who forced her to write it would be too clever to leave any.


Locates the window to the room where Linda is being kept


Episode 15

Shows knowledge of Morse code and uses it to get Robin to help him out


Knows not to untie Daka in order to revert Linda to her true self


Knows to use the gloves at the end when following Daka’s instructions to revert Linda back to normal


Knows to appeal to Captain Arnold’s ego to give him the credit for the capture of Daka’s men


Flaws:

Episode 1

Bruce doesn’t figure out that the criminals’ car changed itself and came back, but couldn’t have reasonably bargained that a car would do that at the time, early in the story without knowing the villain behind what’s going on.


Episode 4

Knows that Linda will be at a fortune teller’s place with the fortune teller planted by the villain, but doesn’t account for other thugs being in the fortune teller’s place.


Episode 11

Walks right into a trap set by Daka when he, in his Chuck White disguise, getting hit by the car accident. He's lucky that he survives. Wilson's Batman should have bargained that Daka would try to kill or trap him at that point in the story and found a way to fake his death or trick them into disappearing.


Episode 13

Misses what looks like an obvious trap door and falls into the trap


37:26 Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin 1949)


Episode 1


Has Robin run tests for invisible ink


Notices the discrepancy that Professor Hamill wouldn’t know that his machine was stolen yet


Knows, when they find diamonds, that it’s the same group as the ones who committed the earlier crime.


Figures out, along with Robin, that the radio announcer is suspicious


Episode 2:

Notices that Hamill’s mansion is close to where the plane landed


Is able to get Vicki Vale out of a trap


Episode 3:

Figures out that the remote control machine fucks up the Batmobile


Tries to narrow down suspects to see who knows Morton by sight


Episode 4

Identifies Morton’s head injury on sight


Figures out how the Wizard projected himself from his hideout


Figures out that the transmitter is in the hospital room.


Episode 5:

Knows the source of the machine’s short circuit when he got thrown into it.


Figures out that the thugs escaped through the other building


Figures out that the car was operated by remote control by the Wizard.


Knows that Vicki’s walking into a trap set by her brother Jimmy


In an impressive display of ingenuity, he retrieves the charred negative of Vicki’s photo and is able to restore the molecular structure of it thanks to infrared plates.


Episode 6

Already knows how much Marine Street goes


Episode 7

Figures out that Harrison is the next victim


Takes out Vicki’s keys to keep her out of danger


Episode 8

Knows that the cabin is about to explode and gets himself and Harrison into a cellar to safety


Figures that the plane below them is the lookout plane


Knows to leap out of the car in time as the thugs get rid of it.


Episode 9

Knows that Wizard will be potentially using synthetic diamonds


Figures out that Vicki’s going to the Harbor Club and goes there to save her


Figures out, based on the blanks, that Jimmy’s surrendering was a bluff


Figures out that they’re heading towards the hideaway near the ocean


Episode 11

Never discounts that Hamill could be the Wizard, as opposed to Dick who always rules him out. While Hamill does NOT turn out to be the Wizard, Batman does show good detective work in waiting for evidence and remaining skeptical.


Episode 12

Recognizes the area where they’re forced to stop the Batmobile as being close to where they lost the Wizard’s men last time


In one of the more impressive displays of detective work, he figures out that the character Dunn is hiding microfilm in his cigar- tricks him into identifying it by offering to light it. Then grabs the man’s cigar and tears it in half, finding the microfilm.


Episode 13

Knows the Wizard will surprise attack


Episode 14

Finds the Wizard’s glove on the ground and takes it back to his lab in the Batcave to identify the Wizard off the fingerprints.


Knows they’re on the wrong investigative track and figures out that the Wizard was invisible


Shows a great knowledge of how the machines work and how they can turn him invisible


Knows that Carter’s death isn’t the end of the Wizard


Knows that Brown suffered a throat hemorrhage


Episode 15

Figures out that the invisibility wears off after awhile and that the Wizard, without transportation, will try to call for help, so he has Gordon call up the phone companies to monitor the calls.


Has Gordon double check the fingerprints on Carter- the ones they originally got and the ones on the dead body


Figures out that the runaway car has Vicki in it.


Identifies the trap door of the hideout


Knows that Hamill is held hostage and that Carter is the Wizard


Figures out that the sub made a circular trip


Flaws:


Episode 2:

There seem to be several moments in the serial where Robin is the first to notice things rather than Batman. In this one, Robin points out to him that the criminals are getting away in their car


Episode 4

Misses the guy planting the listening device in the hospital at first but does find it shortly after


Episode 6

Does not notice the criminals on Marine Street. Robin does.


Episode 7

Doesn’t notice that Vicki Vale is following them (even though he’s in the passenger seat). Robin does


Seems clueless to the fact that the Wizard is using the machine on the cabin, despite having previously seen the machine’s effects. Lowery's Batman just kind of stands there as if nothing’s happening as the cabin goes on fire.


Episode 12

Does not figure out the way into the Wizard’s hideout in the rocks when the trail ends there. Just says that he’ll have Gordon investigate when he could have looked into it himself. If he had, he could have discovered the secret entrance around the bush, like he and Robin do three episodes later.


Episode 14

Doesn’t figure on the Wizard attacking from the window and is only facing the front door. It’s Vicki who sees what’s happening but Batman should have minded his surroundings and accounted for the possibility.


Also does NOT point out that Professor Hamill, who's normally in a wheelchair, is walking at one point, which may have been more of a production error in having the actor walk in rather than wheel in on a wheelchair since these were made for cheap.


46:11 Adam West (Batman 66)


1966 Movie Only:


Knew that the real yacht was being hijacked someplace else.


Batman figures out that Penguin and Joker could be behind the shark attack, based off of it being "fishy" and that the shark was pulling his leg and that all four villains are behind it, though Gordon gets the same thought.


Figures out that the yacht was an illusion to throw off him and Robin and deduces that it came from the bellboy in the harbor. Memorizes where he was at the time to check if there’s a legal bellboy there and there’s not. Also figures out that they took Commodore Schiddlapp hostage.


Discovers where they kept the shark hostage


Sees the periscope of Penguin’s submarine when Robin doesn’t.


Figures out how the villains kept them to the buoy with the magnets and gets his utility belt transmitter to intercept the torpedoes that come their way by reversing the polarity


Knows to call the Navy about the submarine being sold to investigate it


Obviously figures out that P N Gwinn is Penguin


Figures out that the answers to the riddles point to Catwoman, confirming that all of the villains are teaming up


Figures out that United Underworld’s minimum objective must be the entire world


Seems to have figured out both of Riddler’s riddles before he gives them to Robin and the meaning behind them as a threat to Miss Kitka


Figures out already why Robin asks Gordon to shine the Bat Signal upon seeing it as Bruce Wayne


Tries to use his captivity to figure out that the Commodore is there too


Sees through Penguin’s disguise, along with Robin, and tries to get him to give his fingerprints over.


Helps figure out that the riddle points to the villains taking care of the United World Organization (also is in top condition to run for blocks and blocks without tiring)


Sees that the missile has a homing device and prepares to know the frequency of the missile so that his transmitter can send a jamming signal


Knows that the villains are going to the submarine with the United World leaders


Figures out how to put the UN ambassadors back together though it mixes up everything.


Flaws:

Batman does NOT figure out that Kitka is Catwoman until her mask comes off at the end.


Even if we account for the DC Universe's face blindness, Miss Kitka is literally named KITka and she emphasizes the purr in perfect the same way that Catwoman does. This can mainly be chalked up to him being in love with Kitka that he doesn’t see it.


Since the other Batmen have less displays of detective work (except for potentially Pattinson), everyone else's detective work is listed out in the episode.


52:05 Michael Keaton (Batman 89 and Batman Returns)


1:06:30 Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)


1:11:16 George Clooney (Batman & Robin)


1:17:32 Break

Check out our link for Barkbox here.


1:22:07 Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Trilogy)


1:33:09 Ben Affleck (BvS, Justice League)


1:42:40 Robert Pattinson (The Batman)


2:05:33 Fan Comments


2:09:12 Closing: Fan Shoutouts and Social Media Promotion


Big thanks to our research assistant Dan Yamat for providing the visuals for this YouTube experience, as well as the usual QC and chapter time codes.

Thumbnail by Dan as well

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