Ranking the “Batman” Films

//DAVID ROBINSON//

There is no doubt whatsoever that Batman/Bruce Wayne is one of the (if not, the) most iconic superheroes of all time; his traumatic backstory, grit/darkness, intelligence, endurance, stamina and rebellious persona make him the icon that he is today. Batman is known for having some of the best comics, video games and merchandise known to man, but his movies are also amazing; well, most of them anyway. To determine the Caped Crusader’s best and worst films I have counted down the Top 15 Best Batman Movies of All Time. Let’s get right into it:

#15. “Batman & Robin” (1997)

Fans also refer to this abomination against mankind as “The Film That Killed Batman”. What is wrong with this movie? I think the better question to ask would be what is not wrong with this movie?! Everything about “Batman & Robin” is complete garbage; the acting is awful, the script is ridiculous, the costumes are ludicrous, the set-design is bizarre, the lighting is terrible, the soundtrack is horrific and the casting decisions are still being heatedly debated. The only redeeming quality about this film is that it is hilariously awful and is often considered to be a movie that is “so bad that it is good”. “Batman & Robin” bastardized “Batman” and killed its legacy for eight years.

#14. “Batman: The Movie” (1966)

BAM! BOOM! POW! This film sucks! Shark repellent? Batman running around a sea town with a bomb in his arms? Batman’s and Robin’s belts magnetized to a buoy? What on Earth were they thinking?! Funny? Yes. Good? ABSOLUTELY NOT.

#13. “Batman Forever” (1995)

Val Kilmer’s and Tommy Lee Jones’ performances slightly save “Batman Forever” from being a total failure, but they are not enough to wash away the annoying and straight-up weird performances from Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell and Jim Carrey. “Batman Forever” is, basically, a slightly better version of “Batman & Robin”. It is not worth watching and can easily be avoided.

#12. “Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)

When I originally reviewed this film I gave it a “B-” and said that it was “good, but not great”. I purchased this film when it was released on DVD and rewatched it two more times and I took my “B-” and positive review back. Zack Snyder should have renamed this “Batman Fights Superman For Eight Minutes And Then We Set Up The ‘Justice League’ Movie”. (SPOILER ALERT!) In this movie, Batman kills people, Superman is portrayed as a dictator/villain for the first half, Wonder Woman serves no purpose to the plot whatsoever, the cameo sequences are confusing and lazy, Doomsday is just something for the heroes to fight at the end, the writers keep trying to make Lois Lane relevant to the story (they are unsuccessful at this), Superman dies (but does not really) at the end, Jesse Eisenberg sucks as Lex Luthor, speaking of Luthor; one of his plot devices is a jar of pee (I kid you not; this is a plot device in a Batman/Superman movie) and this film has no clue what it wants to be. Avoid this film at all costs.

#11. “Batman: The Killing Joke” (2016)

Want to learn how to butcher a timeless and iconic comic story? Watch “The Killing Joke”. It has been months since I watched this movie and I am still in utter shock over how it was adapted. It is barely accurate to the original comic story, there is an out-of-place and random sex scene between Batman and Barbara Gordon, the animation and voice acting are both mediocre and the best part of this movie is the last four-to-five minutes. This is probably one of the worst animated superhero movies of all time.

#10. “Batman: Year One” (2011)

“Year One” perfectly adapts Frank Miller’s timeless take on the Dark Knight’s origins. It is not amazing and there is not much that makes it stand out or pop, but I still believe that this is a fairly decent “Batman” movie.

#9. “Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero” (1998)

“SubZero” did a better job of bringing Victor Fries’/Mr Freeze’s character to life than “Batman & Robin” (and possibly any other Batman story) ever will. I loved this movie as a kid and still cherish it to this very day because of the compelling nature of the story.

#8. “Batman” (1989)

Jack Nicholson shines as one of the best Jokers of all time in this 1989 Tim Burton classic. This is one of the most interesting “Batman” origin stories of all time and it has some great performances from Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger as well.

#7. “Batman Returns” (1992)

Batman goes head-to-head with two of his most deadly foes ever (the Penguin and Catwoman) in this riveting sequel to “Batman”. This film also explores the romance between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle and Danny De Vito’s performance is almost 100 percent accurate to the comics. Michelle Pfeiffer is also excellent as Catwoman and Michael Keaton, yet again, shines as a troubled Batman who is torn between the love he has for Selina Kyle and the rivalry he has with Catwoman.

#6. “Batman Begins” (2005)

Christopher Nolan masterfully reinvented the legacy of the Dark Knight in this surreal, grim and dark adaptation of Bob Kane’s origin story. We see how the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents affected him psychologically in this movie and we also get to see Wayne’s interaction with the League of Shadows and Ra’s Al Ghul. Add in Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow and you get one amazing and intense flick.

#5. “Batman: Under the Red Hood” (2010)

Have you ever debated why Batman will not just kill the Joker? Watch this movie then. Sins from Batman’s past are presented in “Under the Red Hood” and the final confrontation between Batman, Joker and the Red Hood is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful “Batman” scenes of all time.

#4. “The Dark Knight Returns” Duo (2012-2013)

An old, angry and rebellious Batman swings across two amazing animated films that perfectly capture everything that “Batman” is supposed to be. The script is better than some of the live-action “Batman” films that have been released, the story is dark and compelling, the characters are fascinating and the ending is absolutely intense. What is not to love with the two “Dark Knight Returns” movies?

#3. “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)

Warner Brothers originally planned to release “Mask of the Phantasm” straight to video, but the producers were so impressed with the gravitas of the story that they decided to stream it in theaters. “Mask of the Phantasm”‘s exploration of Batman’s love life, interaction with the Joker and investigation to discover the true identity behind a deadly and mysterious hero makes this the third best “Batman” movie ever made.

#2. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

“The Dark Knight Rises” does have some flaws and plotholes and it is most definitely not accurate to the “Batman” comics, but I still love it because of Tom Hardy’s underrated performance as Bane, the unsuspected plot-twist near the end, the finality it brings to the “Dark Knight” Trilogy and the stupendous job Joseph Gordon-Levitt does in this movie. It is not perfect; but it fairly close to it.

#1. “The Dark Knight” (2008)

Come on. Was there ever any doubt that this was going to be number one? This is the best superhero movie of all time and one of the best films of all time period. Nolan’s directing is flawless, Heath Ledger is magnificent as the Joker, the story progression for Batman is incredible, the practical effects are phenomenal and I am wasting my time here because there is nothing I can say about “The Dark Knight” that you have not already heard before. You must see this if you have not already. I think it should be a national law that you have to see this at least once before you die. Yes. It is that good.

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