Batman is by far, my favorite Superhero. He always has been. My first ever experience with superheroes was the Batman animated series from the 90’s. Batman is the star of many of my favorite Superhero movies, my favorite comic book runs, and my favorite superhero video game. He has been in more live action movies, than any other Superhero, 12 in total, with an added cameo in Suicide Squad. Some are great films, and some, are better off forgotten. I revisited them all and ranked them. For brevity, I only counted the live-action theatrical releases. There are so many animated Batman movies, this list would be way too long if I used them. I will do a list of animated Batman movies later
I am judging where they are ranked on two factor. The overall quality of the film, and also, how good the Batman is. A movie can be well made, but be a weak Batman film. Likewise a movie can be bad, but still, have a good Batman. Let start the rankings.
While Batman was not in it enough for it to count as a Batman film, he was in Suicide Squad. Suicide Squad, is in a word, terrible. It is an incompetent movie on so many levels. The editing is bad, the acting ranges from average to mediocre. The special effects are bad. But that is enough about how crappy a movie it is. I may give a full review of it later, let’s talk about the little bit of Batman we got.
Honestly, Affleck’s Batman wasn’t bad. I mean it is such a small sample size, but it felt like Batman. He stopped pursuing the Joker to save Harley Quinn, was felt like Batman. And then he talked down Deadshot. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough of him to give a grade
If I were to add it to the rankings. It would have been ranked 11. Above both of the old Batman serials from the 40’s, but still below Batman and Robin. And yes, I do think it is is that bad of a movie.
12. Batman (1943)
Most people ever never seen this 40’s serial, and I wish I never have. This is less of a Batman movie and more of World War 2 anti-Japanese propaganda. The racism against Japanese people in this film is reminiscent of the racism against Native Americans in many of the older westerns. The main villain, Daka, is a Japanese man, but of course, he is played by an Irish guy. The accent he attempts is weird and sounds more like a mobster from a Godfather movie than a Japanese man. Not sure if that makes it better or worse. They certainly try to make him look Japanese, but it looks horrible. I mean I know it was the times, and white face is still a problem even today, but this case is especially egregious.
As a movie, it fails. It isn’t a film, it is propaganda. It was hard to watch. And not just because of the racism. The stunt doubles for Batman and Robin look noticeably different, I mean the Robin stunt double had full leg hair. Couldn’t shave that off? Couldn’t put even a little effort into the illusion the stunt double is the same person? The plot is boring. The villains are generic and, again, the way they are portrayed is shockingly racist. The black and white makes it hard to watch, though that is just a problem of the time. But Black and white cameras are no excuse for shoddy filmmaking.
As far as a Batman film? The only thing that is Batman about the film is how the main character is dressed. Our caped crusader is overweight and has none of the qualities people look for in their Batman. Do not watch this movie. It is crap.
Overall Score- 1/10
11. Batman and Robin (1949)
Another Batman serial that most have never seen. This one is still bad, but at least they left the blatant racism against the Japanese out of this one.
There are laughable mistakes throughout the movie. The Bat Signal can work during the day, Robin wears pink tights on his legs throughout the movie to hide the actor’s hairy legs. Which again, why couldn’t they just shave his legs? But the mistakes are somewhat endearing. While still not good, it works better as a story and a movie than the last one did.
As for the Batman, well he isn’t fat this time. He still feels nothing like the caped crusader, but at least he somewhat looks the part, and his Bruce Wayne is fine I guess. Still, this serial is better left on the shelf. Unless you are researching for an article about ranking all the Batman movies, find something better to watch. If you do want to watch them, most of the chapters from the serial are on YouTube. I guess it is old enough and bad enough that the creators no longer care about copyright infringement. Still, to be safe, I do not own the following video. If by chance any who cares enough about the rights to this movie is still alive and find it, I did not post it on YouTube. All I have done is link to it.
10. Batman and Robin (1997)
Real talk, I love this movie. I will watch it any day of the week because it is a blast to watch. It is a ridiculous piece of cinema. Pretty much every choice they made when making this movie, was wrong, but in the best way possible. I would watch this movie before all except 4 movies on this list. Still, what makes it so watchable, is how bad it is.
The characters are constantly blurting out awful one lines. My favorite being this gem, courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger, “What killed the dinosaurs? THE ICE AGE.” There are these amazing set pieces, like when Batman and Robin are trying to stop a diamond heist, and end up playing hockey with a large diamond against a bunch of Mr.Freeze’s goons. Or when Batman and Robin surf on doors through the air down after jumping from a rocket. Or when Mr. Freeze has his minions sing the Snow Miser song. That really happens, and it is amazing.
But what about the Batman? Well, Clooney is awful. I mean I cannot blame him, as he was given nothing to work with, but still. Bat credit card? Something tells me Bruce Wayne taking out a credit card for the Batman would be a little suspicious. Did Joel Schumacher tell him to act with the emotional range of a piece of wood? And why, WHY!, were there nipples on the costume? Who thought that was a good idea?
Batman and Robin fails as both a film and a Batman movie. It almost killed Batman as a viable film character, and it would be almost 10 years before another Batman movie came out. But it succeeds in making one of the most bizarre so bad it is good movies ever.
The movie that came just before Batman and Robin. This one is also a bit of a disaster, though not as fun of one to watch. It can still be fun to watch and make fun of, but it has far less laugh out loud bizarre moments.
It is a little bit more serious than Batman and Robin was, which makes it a little worse. While Clooney was a bad Batman, Val Kilmer is just a boring one. He brings no personality to the role and isn’t even odd enough to laugh at. What does work though, is Jim Carey as the Riddler. Carey is having a blast in this role. It is awful, but I think he knows that. Meanwhile, Tommy Lee Jones is just as absurd as Jim Carey is.
The Riddler’s master plan is just bonkers. He creates this device, that lets him steal other peoples intelligence, or something like that. It never really made much sense.
Another absurd part of the movie is what it implies the security in the Bat Cave is like. The Bat Cave is broken into twice, once by Dick Grayson, and then later on by Riddler and Two-Face. Forgetting the fact that people can just get into the Bat Cave so easily, and the entrance is just a random door in his foyer, the security system once you get into the Bat Cave, is garbage. Whenever someone breaks in, an alarm is set off, and all of the stuff that would be worth stealing, comes up from the ground. That is not a joke. When the security alarm goes off, the Bat-mobile rises from the ground. And I assume the keys are in the ignition because it is stolen twice. It is like if a museum has a security system where once the alarm goes off all the cases are unlocked. Even ADT offers better security than the Bat Cave, and that is saying something.
While I think it is a little bit better made than its sequel, I would still watch Batman and Robin before watching this one.
The Adam West Batman. The plot in this one is so over the top and absurd, that the thought alone makes me laugh. Joker, Catwoman, Penguin, and Riddler, team up. Their plan is to “dehydrate” and kidnap the world leaders. That is no joke. They dehydrate world leaders into dust, and hold them hostage. Amazing.
Batman fights off a shark with “Shark repellent”. At one point, a whale sacrifices itself, by intercepting a missile. There is a fight scene at the end, that is amazingly silly. The dialogue is nonsense and funny as hell. My favorite bit of dialogue is when Batman and Robin are trying to figure out a riddle. “What weighs six ounces, sits in a tree and is very dangerous? A sparrow with a machine gun.” Or this gem, when they are trying to figure out who is behind the villainous plot.
“Where there is a fish there could be a Penguin. ”
“Wait, it happened at seas. C? C for Catwoman!”
“Yet that shark was pulling my leg. The Joker”
“This all adds up to a sinister riddle. The Riddler!”
Just watch this clip of some of the best parts of the movie, and you will get an idea of just how wacky the movie is.
The difference between this and the last two movies though is everything is bad on purpose. The Adam West Batman was more or less a parody of the character. The movie is good silly fun. It is over the top insanity.
7.Dawn of Justice (2016)
This movie was such a disappointment. Batman and Superman, finally on the big screen together, and they turn it into this crap. I know a lot of people like this movie, but I can not understand why.
It is a mess, with way too many plotlines. They took a bunch of comic book storylines, forced them all into one movie, and gave none of them enough time to shine. They wasted Doomsday, they wasted the death of Superman, and by god, they ruined Lex Luthor. Lex in this movie was like a bad version of the Joker. Gone is the cold calculating genius, whose hubris pushes him to prove he is better than Superman. No what we get is a Lex who is losing his mind, with a plan that makes no sense. Why does this Lex hate Superman? We do not see the jealousy of Superman Lex usually has. It seems he thinks he is too dangerous, but if that is the case, Lex is an idiot because he made a monster even more dangerous than Superman.
Lois Lane is embarrassing and serves no purpose to the movie other than being a damsel in distress. Superman is moody for the length of the movie and is nothing like the beacon of hope he should be. They cram in these pointless dream sequences, that serve only to make the movie longer. The tension between Batman and Superman feels forced, and how they come together feels even more forced. We all know how awful the whole Martha scene was.
But what about Batman? Well, it is complicated. On one hand, he kills, which is usually a big no-no. But personality wise, Affleck kind of nails it. Him being a murderer aside, he came kind of close to capturing the comic book Batman. He has the dry wit, the seriousness, the brooding. And the warehouse fight scene is some of the best Batman action I have ever seen in live action.
Overall, the movie is bad though, for the reasons I listed and more. It is such a shame, that after waiting so long for Batman and Superman to appear on screen together, this is what we get.
6.Justice League (2017)
Can DC finally right the ship here? Eh. I was hoping after finally putting out a decent movie in Wonder Woman that Justice League could at least be a quality movie, but to me, it was just average. There is a lot to like, and the last act is very entertaining, but overall it left a ton to be desired.
It drags at times, like in the middle where they have to (spoiler) resurrect Superman. The special effects can be very bad. Everyone knows how bad the CGI to cover up the mustache is, but even the effects on Steppenwolf look bad. He looks like a video game character, which should be no surprise as so did Incubus in Suicide Squad, and Ares in Wonder Woman. You have a giant budget, how can you not get these effects down? If Marvel can make Hulk, Korg, Ego, etc, look somewhat real, Warner Bros should be able to do a better job making their villains look less cartoonish.
I actually liked the Flash, and Aquaman was fun. Affleck’s Batman is still fine, though now it seems like it will be his last turn as the Bat. But still, the movie should be so much better. This is the Justice League. They deserve a fantastic movie. What they got is little better than some of the lesser Marvel movies. And before anyone accuses me of being a Marvel fanboy, just stop. If I hold DC movies to a higher standard, it is only because I expect more out of these characters. I grew up watching Batman the Animated Series, and then the Justice League cartoon. I have read more Batman comics than I have Marvel comics combined. All of the Justice League means a lot to me. It sucks they can not get a movie that does them Justice.
5.The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
I like this movie a lot less than others do. I felt it was a little bit of a mess. From needing subtitles to understand what Bane is saying, to Batman moving all across the globe in a seemingly very short bit of time. I mean did anyone have a hard time keeping track of time in this movie? How long was Batman in that pit? How long did it take his back to heal? How long did Bane hold Gotham hostage?
Also, why the hell did Gotham send it’s entire police force underground. Not a single person among Gotham’s leadership thought it may be a good idea to keep some officers back? it was like the British troops marching one by one into a firing squad? They just all marched into a likely trap. It was a stupid plot device so Bane’s plan could work. It is lazy writing.
On the topic of lazy writing, what happened to the chronic pain in Batman’s knees? It was there at the beginning to explain why Batman hadn’t been active, but then when he needs to be active again, it disappears. Also, do the writers not understand how the stock market works. There is a point in the movie where Bane and his goons rob the stock exchange. They funnel most of Bruce Wayne’s money into a company that fails so that Bruce will lose Wayne Tech, and Miranda can step in. No one thinks to investigate this? It isn’t weird to anyone that the day after the stock exchange, there is something wrong with Wayne Stock?There are so many parts of this movie that feel like lazy writing designed to move the plot forward
I mean it is mostly well made, and well acted, but it is easily the weakest of the trilogy for me. Also, Batman was weak here. He came off looking dumb, and incapable of really being the hero we want him to be. Bale’s performance was great, but he could have been an original character and it would not change the movie. I feel like most of this trilogy could have nothing to do with Batman, and they would still be the same.
4.Batman Begins (2005)
Batman aside, I really like this movie. It has some fantastic social commentary, and also tells a really personal story while also telling an exciting crime thriller. Too many movies will think too big picture, and forget to tell the story of their characters, or vice versa, but Batman Begins really toes the line and delivers a story that satisfyingly gives us both.
The acting is great, the plot is thrilling without being too complicated like Dark Knight Rises is, and as with most Nolan movies, it is very well made. Both Scarecrow and Ra’s Al Ghul make for effective villains. Ra’s especially, as we get more time with him early in the movie, and get to see how he impacted how Batman became Batman.
But again, it feels like Batman is not a necessary aspect to it as a movie. The hero feels clumsy and shows few signs of being the “World’s Greatest Detective” or the master tactician that makes Batman such a formidable hero in the comics.
Now that may make it better as a film, but it makes it a little worse as a Batman movie. Which I know sounds backwards, and I should probably care more about how good the film is, but Batman is an important character to me, and I really want to see the version of Batman we get whenever Kevin Conroy plays the character in live action. Still, these issues aside, I still love this film. It shows the intelligence
3.The Dark Knight (2008)
As far as a film, this movie is near perfect. It is the best comic book film of all time. Were this a list of which comic book movies worked the best as a film, it would be number one. But this is a list of the Best Batman movies, so it stands at 3.
The acting is fantastic. Ledger steals the show. His performance as the Joker is, in my opinion, the best performance in any comic book movie ever. That is not to say the other actors didn’t perform. Everyone delivered great performances.
The Jokers plan may have been a bit nonsensical. I mean he needed a lot of random things to happen for it to work out. But on the other hand, it is the Joker. I would believe it if the Joker was just shooting from the hip, and if at some point a part of his plan did not work, he would just adapt. If it was any other antagonist, I would be saying it was nonsense, but nonsense makes sense for someone as crazy as the Joker.
I love Nolan’s use of practical effects. Practical effects are far too often overlooked in the superhero movie genre. Studios lean heavily on CGI, so it is refreshing when a major blockbuster takes the time to stage out practical effects. It makes things look so much more realistic, and hence makes the movie more immersive.
The score is also fantastic, and I appreciate the restraint shown in when to use it. Many movies will take a great score, and ruin it by overusing it or making it too loud. Take Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman had a pretty good score, but they crammed it into every single dramatic scene, making it have less value. If they would have just held back, and let the scenes drama speak for itself, it would have been more effective. But like far too many movies in the genre, it cranked up the swelling music and distracted the audience. But Dark Knight avoids this pitfall. Take the chase scene in the tunnel. Nolan made the genius choice to not use the score here, and let the sounds of the action carry the scene.
There are some flaws though. The major one for me, it panders to get the pg-13 rating. This was before Deadpool and Logan, and studios were afraid of the r rating. Because of this, there are scenes where people are shot, with no blood or wound. Joker shoots a man point blank with a pistol, and he just falls to the ground with no blood, would, or anything to actually suggest he was shot. It takes me out of the movie, all I can think about is how much more effective it would be the movie was rated R.
Overall, it is a great film though, and while, like the others in this trilogy, I do not think it being a Batman film is needed, I do still love it. I just think the next two movies, are more effective as Batman movies, even if I think this one is a better film.
1.Batman Returns (1992)
This is a weird, and dark movie. It is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but for me, it is one of the best. Which is why it ended up in a tie for first place on my list.
This movie was a risk, and financially it did not pay off, which is why Tim Burton didn’t return to direct the next film, and why we got the train wrecks that were Batman Forever and Batman and Robin. But I am not judging a movie by how successful it was in the box office.
Michael Keaton is still my favorite live action Batman. He is not as good as Kevin Conroy, but the animated series, and the Batman universe that followed, is on a another level,and it would be hard for a live action movie to match what they can do in the animated format for this genre.
Danny Devito delivers a strange, but effective Penguin. He is truly monstrous. Which is weird, he does not fit the mold of the comic book Penguin, but it works. It shouldn’t work. if I put the idea of the Penguin of this movie on paper, I would think it would be awful. I mean he has an army of Penguins,, and is deformed to have flipper like extremities. That is just weird, and it should make for a laughably bad movie. But Devito, and Burton, make it work. He is intimidating. I mean physically he poses no threat, but his actions make him an effective villain.
And Michelle Pfeiffer’s Cat-woman is crazy good. She is much more comic book accurate. She is more comic book accurate. She is a true femme-fatale. Flirty, sexy, dangerous,and conniving. She is so effective as both a love interest, and a secondary villain.
The score to both this and The Batman are great, as is much of Danny Elfman’s work.
It is a shame Tim Burton did not get a chance to make another movie, but perhaps audiences were not ready for a Batman movie this strange.
This is the closest we have gotten to seeing the perfect Batman on screen.
Is it as good of a movie as the Dark Knight? No. While it is still a very good film, the film making aspects do not quite match those we saw in the Dark Knight. However, as a Batman movie, it works better. It is more true to the Batman we see in the comics and would later see in the cartoons.
Jack Nicholson gives a great performance. Maybe he is not as good as Heath Ledger, but that is like saying a basketball player is not as good as Michael Jordan. It isn’t exactly fair to compare him to the greatest performance ever in a comic book movie, and critique him for not living up to it. His Joker was different than Ledgers’s, but still very effective as an antagonist. His was more similar to the funny Joker we would see in Batman the Animated Series. He is still cruel, and crazy, but has a bit more of a grip on reality, whereas Ledger’s Joker is chaos personified. Which one you prefer, is a matter of taste. I imagine many comic purists probably prefer Nicholson’s performance, as his Joker is more comic book accurate.
It was not as strange as Batman Returns is, nor as dark. It definitely had dark aspects, but it did not go as far as it’s sequel did. It also took some liberties with the batman mythos, which is always a risk, but for the purposes of the movie, it worked. It goes to show that being comic book accurate is not always the most important thing, as long as you still adhere to the spirit of the character, and the changes work.
I adore this movie and will watch it fairly often. It lives up to almost all my expectations of what a Batman film should be. I am not sure if you could do a better job representing Batman in live action. There are animated Batman movies which I like more, such as Mask of the Phantasm, but in terms of live action, this, and Batman Returns, are the best.