Though the tone of each Batman project has varied over the years, mostly depending on how comfortable the respective filmmakers are with BDSM vibes, the general design of the Dark Knight’s costume never has. His ears are pointy, and located on top of his head. His nose is an isosceles triangle. And apart from two small eyeholes, the only part of his body left exposed by his formfitting black getup is his chin. It’s a unique challenge for any actor — with a thespian’s traditional engines of emoting covered up, they’ve got to embody the character with just a jawline.
With Robert Pattinson becoming the latest actor to step inside the cowl, we couldn’t help but wonder: Of all the men who have become Batman, who pulled off this specific requirement of the character the best? To figure it out, we consulted Ashkan Ghavami, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon famous for his appearances on Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood. Ghavami recently provided an expert opinion on Chris Evans’s butt, making him perhaps singularly qualified for this assignment.
What makes for a good Bat-chin? While fashion trends like sculpted nipples come and go with the times, according to Ghavami, beauty standards for the lower face area have stayed constant throughout Hollywood’s history: You want “a strong square chin,” plus “a straight jawline with a good angle toward the ear.” (For more information, see here.)
With that in mind, which actor has the best Batmandibles? Read on.
N.R.: David Mazouz (Gotham)
David Mazouz is the 18-year-old actor who played young Bruce Wayne on Gotham. He appears to have the mouth and chin of a typical human male, and we’d feel uncomfortable saying anything more than that.
8. Robert Lowery (Batman and Robin serial)
Lowery wasn’t the first actor to play Batman; that was the comically square-jawed Lewis Wilson, who portrayed the character in a 1943 serial. When Lowery took over for the little-loved Wilson in the Batman and Robin serial six years later, he had his own trouble measuring up. Lowery was an attractive enough actor on his own — in his prime, he was considered a poor man’s Clark Gable — but the postwar costuming did his chin area no favors. It’s proof that this costume could give trouble to even a bog-standard handsome man.
7. Michael Keaton (Batman, Batman Returns)
Michael Keaton has since become a respected elder statesman of the superhero genre, and an Oscar nominee to boot, but 30 years ago, his casting was so controversial that thousands of fans wrote in to Warner Bros. to complain. Perhaps it was his reputation as a comic actor, but perhaps it was also his chin, which inspired this withering assessment from Ghavami: “It’s not preferable at all.” Why not? “It’s not very square. It’s kind of round.” Ah, well, nevertheless.
6. Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
Over the course of our short interview, I slowly discovered Ghavami’s favorite euphemism, which he broke out to describe Val Kilmer’s chin: “He has a very specific look.” In the mid-’90s, the actor’s chin was only a few ticks off its Top Gun–era peak in the sharpness department; stare at it too long, and you may see shades of Leno. Perhaps that’s an aesthetic only a few people can pull off. “Val Kilmer[’s chin] is not one I’ve ever had somebody bring in for requests,” Ghavami says.
5. Ben Affleck (Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League)
Ben Affleck, by contrast, is often the model for men looking to reconstruct their chins. (Ghavami offers three options, in ascending order of complication: fillers, silicone implants, and for the really committed, actual jaw surgery.) “Ben Affleck was great in Good Will Hunting,” Ghavami says. “He was a good-looking guy then, and he’s still a good-looking older gentleman now.” However, just as audiences loved certain heroes in DC’s cinematic universe but didn’t always care to see them all team up, men who bring in photos of the Gone Girl star are not looking to re-create every aspect of Affleck’s entire chin. “I personally have not had any men coming in asking for that cleft,” says the surgeon. “That’s a very specific thing, that not a lot of people necessarily like.”
4. Robert Pattinson (The Batman)
Pattinson has not yet been photographed in the Batsuit, so our photo team was kind enough to create this handy mock-up of what the Good Time star’s chin might look like once he’s strapped into the costume. Ghavami approves! “That’s a nice-looking chin,” he says. “Partly because he has a good shape to his mouth.” Like the actor himself, Pattinson’s chin is sharp, edgy, and a little extreme. According to Ghavami, people tend not to try for it themselves.
3. Adam West (ABC’s Batman)
Adam West predated the golden age of contouring by a good half-century, and he did it all without any Instagram filters. Ghavami calls the late actor’s chin “a little feminized,” but, he allows, “some people like that.” With a little luck, and a bit of surgery, you can have it, too. As Ghavami explains, removing the buccal fat pad in the cheek (the bit of the face that makes babies so cute) can give some men a similar definition, provided they have a strong jaw and tight skin. “I’ve had people request that specifically,” says Ghavami. “People come in from Europe. It’s a very tailored look.”
2. Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises)
Though Christian Bale had been a successful child actor, his chin kept a low profile until American Psycho. “He’s a really good-looking guy,” Ghavami says. “That’s why he was good for that role: He had that quintessential strong American male [look]. In order to be a power player, you can’t have a weak chin.” The doctor specifically highlights Bale’s angular bone structure as a plus, calling it supermasculine. “You look at these MMA fighters and a lot of boxers, they all have chins that can take a punch.” It’s not too pointy, I wondered? Nope, says Ghavami: “If your face and jawline are on the narrower side, the Christian Bale aesthetic makes sense for you.”
1. George Clooney (Batman & Robin)
Clooney’s turn in the Batsuit is almost universally regarded as a franchise low point, but we’re not ranking films here. We’re ranking chins, and according to Ghavami, George Clooney has the Citizen Kane of chins. “He has one of the most ideal chins and jawlines in history,” the doctor raves. “It’s the old Hollywood standard. Look at Warren Beatty, Cary Grant, even Errol Flynn. All those people back in the day had really good chins.” Of all the chins in Hollywood, Ghavami says that Clooney’s chin is “for sure” the most requested among his patients, and in his expert opinion, it only has one rival — Jon Hamm’s chin. “His jawline is perfection,” Ghavami says of the Mad Men star. It’s a fitting compliment: Hamm’s own hopes to play the role were seemingly dashed when Pattinson got cast in The Batman, but he seems to have taken it on the chin.