Christian Bale – Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy
Before Batman: Empire of the Sun, Newsies and Swing Kids. Take your pick for your favorite “young Bale” role. Bale is up there with Kilmer for the best actual actor to take on the role of the Bat, even if the movies he chooses to star in aren’t always on par. My favorite performance Bale has ever given (and I don’t see this changing with any future roles) was his take on Patrick Bateman in Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho. His smug, debonair douchebaggery for that film is always in the back of my mind when I watch him in other movies. Would Bruce Wayne try and shove a cat into an ATM? Perhaps.

Perhaps the most striking role he’s played was Trevor Reznik in Brad Anderson’s thriller The Machinist, for which Bale dropped over 60 pounds to play the emaciated sleep-deprived lead character . The fact that Nolan hired Bale for Batman Begins at this point in his career was kind of amazing, considering he had to put all that weight back on to take the part.

As Batman: Considering Christopher Nolan’s direction and co-written script were the biggest stars of the Dark Knight trilogy, it’s a wonder that Bale was able to keep up. He shined as Bruce Wayne, providing just the right amount of pompousness needed to keep Gotham’s citizens at bay. He was less impressive as Batman himself, more often than not because his warbled grumbling sounded more like dry heaving than the assertive voice a superhero needs. That said, Nolan’s movies still present Bale as the quintessential caped crusader, and it will be hard for anyone to top him.

After Batman: It’s only been a year since The Dark Knight Rises hit theaters, and Bale’s post-Batman work in Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace and David O. Russell’s American Hustle have yet to be seen. However, his work in between the Batman films yielded some of his strongest work yet, leading to a supporting actor Oscar win for Russell’s The Fighter. He was also pretty great in Nolan’s The Prestige, James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma and Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn. And no one can forget his Terminator Salvation expletive-filled rant, which was almost better than the film itself.

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