How Batman & Superman Became The World's Most Iconic Superheroes — CHART

Batman and Superman will meet for the first time ever on the big screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which hits theaters on March 25. The film sees the return of Henry Cavill as Clark Kent from 2013's Man of Steel, along with the debut of Ben Affleck as the new Bruce Wayne. But those two men are just the latest in a long line of actors who have portrayed Batman and Superman on screen. The world's two most iconic superheroes may have a long history in the comics, with Superman debuting in 1938 and Batman a year later, but the characters' history in film and television is almost as extensive.

Unlike in the comics, Batman made his debut at the movies first. The character first appeared in a 15-part film serial from Columbia Pictures in 1943, simply called Batman, where he was portrayed by Lewis Wilson. Superman followed five years later in 1948 with his own 15-part Columbia serial, Superman, and was portrayed by Kirk Alyn. The next several years saw more serials and, eventually, full-length movies, featuring now-iconic portrayals of the two characters from people like George Reeves and Adam West.

Some of these versions were more successful than others, of course. The campy '60s TV series Batman, starring West, is credited with largely redefining the character for a whole generation, giving him a much lighter feel. The 1978 film Superman starring Christopher Reeve, meanwhile, became the first blockbuster superhero movie, and was the sixth highest grossing film of all time at the end of its theatrical release. 

Some of the less-successful portrayals may not have earned much acclaim, but have gained cult status over the years, like George Clooney and his infamous bat nipples, which took over 1997's Batman and Robin. Yet recent years have seen a return to form, with Tom Welling spending seasons as a young Clark Kent on Smallville and Christopher Nolan making the hugely acclaimed Dark Knight trilogy. And today, there's Batman v Superman, starring Cavill and Affleck. But to see just how the characters have evolved over the years, take a look at the graphic below featuring all the major actors who've portrayed Batman and Superman over the past 70 years.

Images: Warner Bros. Pictures; giphy; Mary Rabun/Bustle

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