Burton presented his Batman as a dark, mysterious, silent character and Keaton did just that with his stares. I think that's the way he can intimidate with all the limitations his suit gives him. His costume and gadgets were true to the design of the comic book and it worked well for him. His Bruce didn't really clicked to me. It came as dull and boring. The way I see Gotham in this movie is more like a comic book look which works well for that time. I can say the overall look is a great direct adaptation of the comics. Story-wise, it flops for me that I think Burton did all the aesthetics and fitted his story to suit the looks.
Nolan for me on the other hand, created his story first, then fitted Batman into that story - and he really knows how to tell a story. He created his Batman, not from the comic books, but from how he envisioned Batman (if he were real) to exist in our current world/age. I think that's the major gripe most comic book fans have but for us, who weren't really into comics, it works really well. I for one, started looking at comic books and how it portrays Batman after Batman Begins (2005) and I still like Nolan's universe.
Nolan's Batman as I see it, is a persona of exuding with rage and violence but still adheres to his strict code never to kill. What Bale's Batman lacked in the quality of his stares, he made up for with action and Bale's physique is all in for that. I actually liked how the action films in Begins were shown in the eyes of the victims in which you only saw shadows and fists and then you're out. I actually felt fear, as if it were a horror movie with Batman as the scary creature (which was the intent of the film). In TDK and TDKR, we saw the actions as third person and I liked it. Moves not too flashy and were quickly executed, which I think is what Batman in our age will do. While I do think Bale's batvoice is over the top and kind of forced here, I think it works well when he is interrogating crooks (scene on BB where he interrogates Flass hanging upside down). Still I hope he should've used the toned down version of his batvoice for normal conversations, like the one he used when talking to Rachel Dawes at the train station after beating the men sent to kill Rachel. I also liked his batwhisper; the voice he used when he talked to Gordon for the first time (Begins) and when Gordon is in the hospital in TDKR. As for the batsuit, I think I am in the minority who liked the TDK version over the BB version over Keaton's batsuit. He just looks more intimidating in a way that you know his suit is somehow an indestructible armor and not just some rubber suit meant for disguise. I also liked the modern look and feel it gives out. Now on to Bale's Bruce Wayne which he nailed perfectly in my opinion. I just loved how he had 2 peronas as Bruce - the male Paris Hilton version (carefree, arrogant, playboy) and the real him, tortured, calculative, and caring in which I think he conveyed more emotion, more depth to the character. The Tumbler is a beast (looks and function-wise), and works really well with the movie's motif about fear. This Batman doesn't care about looks but all for functionality, and I liked that concept. The setting, well, it is not comic book Gotham but a present-day city. I just see that Nolan is consistent in the version of Batman that he created while telling a really compelling story.
At the end of it all, I think it boils down to personal taste - the direct comic book adaptation or the modern translation of the comic book. Burton or Nolan. I prefer the latter.
Like I said,Bale is the one and only true Batman.all the others are phony wanna be imposters.The other batman movies are a disgrace to the comicbook and Burton and Schumacher should be shot for taking a crap on the batman franchise like they did with their montrocities.
Bale's Batman was extremely self-righteous and hypocritical (goes on about how he doesn't kill but has no problem sending people into a coma or breaking all of their bones). That's a major problem with the modern era Batman in general, though, not just his portrayal.
Bale's Bruce Wayne was the best part of his performance, imo. It was A+ work, actually.
If they took Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne and Michael Keaton's Batman (minus the killing) and put them together, it'd be the ultimate portrayal on film.
Bale's Batman is good and all, but he's really not very intimidating and doesn't have as much presence. Bale's Bruce Wayne is FAR too well adjusted in everyday life to be a masked vigilante who spends his time beating people up, Keaton's Bruce Wayne comes across as pensive, damaged, and volatile, much more apt given the circumstances of his character IMO.
My list goes
Adam West #1
Michael Keaton #2
Christian Bale #3
Bale and Keaton more or less tie at 2 but I enjoy what Keaton brought to the role more than what Bale did. Bale just played the role, he was Bruce/batman, cool. But Keaton made the role his own and injected more personality into it. As Bruce he had his moments where he seemed a tad crazy/without a care (threatening the joker, I think. It's been awhile) then as batman seemed more natural despite being in a rubber suit.
Eh my opinion anyway.