Favorite on-screen versions of iconic DC characters

male and female superhero silhouette with full moon behind them

For almost 85 years, we’ve seen iconic DC characters in print and on-screen. So, StatsFind conducted a survey to answer the question: Who’s your favorite actor portrayal of these legendary DC characters?

Methodology

StatsFind invited participants via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to fill out a short survey stating their favorite actor for each of these comic book characters: Superman, Batman, Lex Luthor, The Joker, Lois Lane, and Catwoman. The survey took place between April 11, 2022, and April 22, 2022. We received replies from almost 1,000 unique respondents (983 to be precise). Here is the respondents’ demographic breakdown:

Gender

Of the respondents that reported their gender, the ratio was almost 50:50. Interestingly, there were slightly more female participants in this survey than males.

pie chart indicating percentage of male and female participants for the iconic DC characters survey

Age

The majority of participants were from the 26 -35 age group.

half pie chart indicating percentage of age ranges of participants for the iconic DC characters survey

Location

By far, most participants were from the United States. However, there was representation from Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, North Macedonia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela.

half pie chart indicating percentage of origin country of participants for the iconic DC characters survey

Now, let’s look at the results!

Superman

As the oldest and arguably most iconic superhero of the DC universe, Superman made his comic book debut in June 1938. Who received the most votes for his on-screen representation?

That honor goes to Henry Cavill (#1 below), from Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman (2015), and Justice League (2017). In second place is Christopher Reeve (#2) from Superman: The Movie (1978) and its sequels. In third place is Dean Cain (#3), from the TV series Lois and Clark (1993 – 1997).

Staff’s Pick: Dean Cain. Bill, from Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), said of Clark Kent: “Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak… he’s unsure of himself… he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.”

Dean Cain’s Superman/Clark Kent disproved that. He wasn’t fumbling around nor was clumsy. His Clark Kent was brave to the point of “dying” for his friends. And he was almost as smart and competitive at his job as Lois Lane. Lois and Clark also dealt with real scenarios that could come up in the fictional world of Metropolis, like Superman getting sued, being grounded by the FAA, Immigration requesting his green card, and the IRS getting after him about his taxes.

bar graph showing favorite superman

Batman

Less than a year later the world saw a new type of superhero: one without innate superpowers. Batman trained mentally and physically to fight crime, and being rich allowed him to develop really cool gadgets. And that car. Who topped the list for favorite on-screen Batman?

Christian Bale (The Dark Kight trilogy) received the most votes. Next, came Kevin Conroy from Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995) and many animated films that followed. Conroy even made a live-action appearance as Bruce Wayne in the Arrowverse crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two (2019). In third place was Michael Keaton, seen in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).

top three batman

Staff’s Pick: Kevin Conroy. Conroy has played the animated version of Batman (across several universes) for 30 years and his timbre just seems to set the gold standard for Batman’s voice. Plus, the animated series was phenomenally developed and introduced us to a new fan favorite: Harley Quinn.

bar graph showing favorite batman

Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor, Superman’s archnemesis, first appeared in comics in April 1940. Originally depicted as a mad scientist, he later became the corporation CEO with the brilliant scientific mind that we know today.

The winner for the favorite on-screen version of Lex Luthor goes to Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman and Justice League). Second place goes to Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville (2001-2011) and in third place is Clancy Brown (Superman: The Animated Series, which ran from 1996 until 2000).

top three lex luthor

Staff’s Pick: Clancy Brown. Voters have been hitting the nail on the head with the top three spots and Lex Luthor is no different. We like Clancy Brown’s version for his forced control of emotions that occasionally get away from him and his obvious smugness, knowing he’s the smartest man in the room. Plus, we love Clancy Brown’s versatility, from working in Shawshank Redemption and multiple characters throughout the Star Wars universe. He’s royalty to us geeks.

pie chart showing favorite lex luthor

The Joker

The Clown Prince of Crime made his comic book debut in 1940 and his ingenuity coupled with his erratic behavior have been keeping Batman and readers on the edge of their seats since. Who did you vote as your favorite Joker?

By a large margin, Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight,2008) took first place. In second came Mark Hamill from Batman: The Animated Series and, in third, we have Jack Nicholson (Batman).

Top three Joker

Staff’s Pick: Mark Hamill. Heath Ledger’s Academy Award for his portrayal of The Joker is well deserved just as much as his place in the number one spot of this poll. However, Hamill will forever be our favorite because he, like Conroy, has been developing and fleshing out his character for over 30 years and doing a fantastic job at it. And that laugh. That heinous, iconic laugh. In the following clip, producers, directors, and Hamill discuss The Joker and Mark Hamill’s portrayal of the character:

Lois Lane

Even by today’s standards, Lois Lane is pretty gutsy. Imagine when she debuted in 1938! She is smart, not easily intimidated, and sometimes stubborn. We wouldn’t want her any other way.

The favorite Lois Lane was a tight race but Amy Adams (Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Justice League) pushed ahead to secure the number one spot. In second place came Teri Hatcher (Lois and Clark), with Dana Delany (Superman: The Animated Series) in third.

top three lois lane

Staff’s Pick: Teri Hatcher. Hatcher’s Lois Lane admitted she was high maintenance, though she added “I’m worth it”. Clark knew she was right.

Although this version of Lois Lane was in plenty of tight spots, she would put up a good fight. And she did her share of saving Superman, too. The mix of tough, smart, beautiful, and a little neurotic made her endearing and represented Lois superbly. Plus, the on-screen chemistry between Hatcher and Cain was downright, well, spicy. Sure, she didn’t find out Clark’s secret as fast as Adam’s Lois did but nobody’s perfect.

bar graph showing favorite versions of lois lane

Catwoman

Catwoman is an appropriate name for this antihero. Since her first appearance in 1940, she’s been sometimes mysterious and doesn’t seem to have loyalties. She’ll help you if it suits her.

Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises) came in first place as the favorite version of Catwoman. From the 1960s TV series Batman, Julie Newmar came in second place. In third was Hally Berry (Catwoman, 2004).

Staff’s Pick: Eartha Kitt. Honestly, it is very difficult to pick a favorite in this category since all the actresses do a marvelous job of embodying Catwoman. So, we choose Eartha Kitt because she’s just purrrrfect. Best ‘r’ roll.

What does ‘DC’ stand for?

Out of curiosity, we wanted to know how many DC fans knew what the acronym ‘DC’ stood for. This was the breakdown of responses:

Correct Answer: Detective Comics

Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson started a comic book company called National Allied Publications in 1934.

By 1937, money troubles resulted in Wheeler-Nicholson partnering with magazine publisher and distributor Harry Donefeld which led to the founding of Detective Comics Inc. Eventually, Donefeld bought out the rest of National Allied Publications, and Wheeler-Nicholson was out.

By 1938, Detective Comics Inc. was prepared to launch a new title known as Action Comics. The first issue, written and illustrated by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, was released in June 1938 and featured a superhero called Superman.

The rest is history. 


Fictional Statistics


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