Was Christian Bale or George Clooney a sexier Batman?
With their unlikely physiques and feats of derring-do, superheroes are naturally sexy. But when these comic-book do-gooders get their own movies, they’re often embodied by flavor-of-the-month celebrities delivering flat line readings in hokey costumes — not nearly as sexy. Here are some stars who managed to make our favorite superheroes as alluring on screen as they were on the page.
10. Christopher Reeve as Superman, Superman
Making Superman interesting is a particular challenge. You don’t have the emotional darkness of Batman, you don’t have the outcast desperation of the X-Men, and you’re basically invincible. It’s hard to be flawless and still be sexy. But if you can’t have edge, you can at least have charm, and Reeve brought it to his performance as the Man of Steel in spades. Superman could have been as bland as wheat germ, but the lovable Reeve made him the golden boy you’d love to have hot marital congress with.
9. Ron Perlman as Hellboy, Hellboy
In any list of sexy superheroes, you’re bound to get a few out-there characters: not all non-humans can be as normal-looking as Superman. Hellboy is probably on the far end of the spectrum. Sure, he’s bright red and has sawed-off horns, but his swagger is undeniable, and in all honesty, you have to admit you’d go to bed with Hellboy over an un-costumed Perlman.
8. Brandon Lee as Eric Draven, The Crow
Your favorite superhero who could also pass as a member of The Cure, Lee’s Eric Draven was gothic and terribly romantic in a way that made you forget his harlequin makeup. The perfect mix between action hero and rock star, this performance was made all the more tragically alluring by Lee’s accidental death during the film’s final weeks of production.
7. Carla Gugino as Silk Spectre, Watchmen
No, not wooden Malin Akerman. We’re talking about Gugino as Akerman’s mother, who fought crime under the same nom de guerre. Her Vargas-girl style and the feistiness that was missing from her daughter more than made up for her lack of screen time.
6. Edward Norton as the Hulk, The Incredible Hulk
We maintain that this reboot of the Hulk story would have a better rep had it not come out the same summer as Iron Man and The Dark Knight. The timing was off, but Norton’s sweet, endearingly sensitive version of scrawny genius Bruce Banner struck all the right chords, even if his green-skinned alter-ego still looked a bit too much like a plastic model.
5. Anna Paquin as Rogue, X-Men
You always want want you can’t have, and Rogue, the mutant whose very touch can kill, can’t have anyone, making her a smoldering furnace of unfulfilled longings. Though Paquin’s version of Rogue was stuck on young Iceman — not quite the partner we would have chosen — she had more than a few moments of crackling (and vaguely inappropriate) tension with the brooding and burly Wolverine over the course of three movies.
4. Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Iron Man
Tony Stark’s mechanical suit doesn’t do much for sex appeal, leaving almost everything to the imagination. For all you know, it could be Pauly Shore under all that bulky metal. Luckily, the ever-capable and rakishly sexy Downey, Jr.’s smooth, cocksure Stark — like Bruce Wayne without all the melancholy — was so indelible it was impossible to forget the sexiness under the armor.
3. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, X-Men
Now that we know what a sunny, sometimes hammy guy Jackman really is, it’s amazing to look back at his first appearance as Wolverine, an abrasive, tortured, and dangerously hot mutant lacking both memories and impulse control. He was the bad boy who you knew — in your soul, damn it! — had a heart of gold. And even though the Wolverine/Jean Grey/Cyclops love triangle stretched out over two films, it never seemed like a contest, as poor goody-two-shoes Cyclops could hardly keep up.
2. Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, Batman Returns
Catwoman has always followed her own agenda, and while she may have been an adversary for Batman in this film, her end game was stopping the power-hungry businessman Max Shreck (who, it should be noted, pushed her out a window). You might question her moral compass, but you can’t question the unstoppable sexual force of Pfeiffer in one of the first explicitly bondage-gear-inspired superhero outfits.
1. Christian Bale as Batman, Batman Begins
After Batman & Robin managed to make George Clooney unsexy, any actor would be rightfully wary of donning the pointy-eared mask. Luckily, Bale returned sexiness to the Batman name in Batman Begins (and its sequel,The Dark Knight). Able to shift from suave, playboy millionaire to gravel-voiced vengeance machine on a dime, this Batman may be a little intense, but looking like Christian Bale goes a long way.