Ranking The Batman Movies Article By Deffinition
Over the past 80 years we have seen the Dark Knight appear in many film incarnations. I’m a huge Batman fan and have great admiration for the character and all of the cinematic appearnaces that he has made. To celebrate the release of Justice League I decided to rank the Batman films from worst to best from 1966 onwards. Whilst there are two films released before the ’66 version, they are difficult to recommend due to the limitations of the time. Batman truly became a phenomenon on screen due to Adam West and Burt Ward’s depiction so I will be counting from this point forward.
I haven’t seen the Justice League Rotten Tomatoes Score so this is purely my thoughts on where the film ranks in the collective.
With that out the way let’s dive into my list of all the Batman Movies Ranked from 1966 – Justice League.
14. Batman Forever
Whilst not being outright terrible, Batman Forever isn’t spectacular either. Introducing a new Dark Knight and Director, the film feels like a toned down version of the Burton verse that preceded it. Featuring an uncharacteristically bad Tommy Lee Jones performance the film suffers from poor pacing, a weak love sub plot and lots AND LOTS…of neon lights. The film just isn’t funny, even with Jim Carey at the helm and it could’ve done with some of the humour that our next entry has…
13. Batman And Robin
Batman and Robin is so bad it’s good. Featuring more ice puns than an Vanilla Ice, Ice T and Ice Cube collaboration track, this film has it’s tongue placed firmly in it’s cheek. At the time criticised for revitalising the 1966 version of The Dark Knight, this movie can be looked back on as the capability of Batman. As a character he can be used as either dark and brooding or fun and comedic. Providing more entertainment than Batman Forever, it secures our second to last place.
12. Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad suffered from studio interference. Promoting The Joker heavily the film had confusing marketing externally and poor characterisation internally. It’s difficult to even say who the main character is and sloppy editing makes the movie almost unwatchable at some points. Whilst Batman is featured very little, his brief appearances are certainly highlights within the film that add a wealth of exposition to Gotham. Never before had we seen Batman appear out of the blue and escort criminals to Arkham like this.
Adam West and Burt Ward gave iconic performances as the dynamic duo. What was great about the 1966 show is that as a kid you thought it was the most serious thing in the world. This perspective changed as you grew into adulthood and realised how hilarious it was. With memorable scenes like ‘Some Days You Just Can’t Get Rid Of A Bomb,’ this movie is let down due to budget constraints and age it’s still a great watch for diehard fans.
10. Batman V Superman Extended Edition
Whilst drowning in problems theatrically, the extended edition remedies many of the nonsensical aspects of the film. Sure Batman V Superman suffers from a weak villain, the ‘Martha’ scene and a serial killer in the cape and cowl but there is still a lot to like for diehard fans. This movie is a cinematic milestone through its depiction of the first time that The Dark Knight and The Man of Steel met on the silver screen. Bringing to Life the work of Frank Miller and Showcasing what is by far the best fight scene in a Batman movie to date. Batman v Superman gave us one of the most iconic depictions of the Caped Crusader.
9. Justice League
Justice League, the latest entry on our list, unfortunately, suffers from a weak narrative, lacklustre villain and mediocre CGI. That’s not to say it’s bad, perfectly capturing the essence of Justice League Unlimited, the film depicts a mature, wiser Batman that feels like a fully fleshed personality instead of merely an archetype. Aided by Danny Elfman’s iconic score, Batman becomes a leader, realising that he works better with others as opposed to by himself. A far cry from the darker and angrier version of the character from Batman V Superman, Ben Affleck feels like he has fully grown into the role and provides a brilliant foundation for the rest of the team to springboard off. Whilst not perfect, this film still encapsulates many of the fantasies that fans had about the teams first onscreen ensemble and feels like a step in the right direction, bettering many of the flaws from its predecessors in the DC universe. Perhaps the inevitable extended cut will save the movie but for now, it ranks in just behind Batman Returns.
8. Batman Returns
Batman Returns is a mixed bag. Ranging from cool to absurd this film seems like a twisted nightmare at points. Featuring a demonic penguin that gropes and leers over women all while drooling black slime, it’s not hard to see why parents didn’t want kids seeing this movie. Aging poorly, it’s obvious that Burton was more interested in the villains than he was in the Caped Crusader and the central character feels bland and boring. This is more Edward Scissorhands than Batman and because of this, it ranks lower on our list that it’s predecessor: Batman.
7. The Lego Movie
Relying heavily on Batman, The Lego Movie showcases the Dark Knight as a parody. Launching Batarangs by the second, the satirical look at the character provides a wealth of jokes on his 75 year history and at the time it was one of the most unique depictions of The Dark Knight. Don’t let the kid friendly vibe put you off. This is a must see for fans of the Caped Crusader.
6. The Dark Knight Rises
Due to it’s amazing opening and phenomenal final act, The Dark Knight Rises elevates Nolan’s trilogy to the best comic book movie collection to date. Featuring the redemption of The Dark Knight we see Gotham fall to it’s lowest point and learn the value of symbols. Dark Knight Rises just misses out due to some lacklustre plot elements and poor villain characterisation.
5. The Lego Batman Movie
The Lego Batman Movie was a risk. However, it paid off massively. As hilarious as it is gorgeous to watch, Lego Batman sends up the character in a roast like fashion. At its heart, it has great care for the icon and that’s why it works well for newcomers and old fans alike. Featuring minute Easter eggs such as Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face and Condiment King, there is enough here to keep fans coming back for more.
4. Batman Begins
Batman Begins started a new trend for comic book movies. Presenting a grittier, realistic Batman, this film focused on the psychology of fear and what motives would possess someone to become a vigilante. A far cry from what had come before Batman Begins legacy can still be seen today. Influencing hundreds of films it secures itself within the top 5.
3. Batman 1989
Batman 1989 was a phenomenon upon release. Revitalising comic book films it balanced perfectly the dark and brooding Batman with the camp light hearted one. Beautiful in it’s aesthetic, the costumes, car and characters have a timeless feel to them. Jack Nicholson nails The Joker and tears up the scenery every time he graces the screen. Michael Keaton expertly depicts the troubled persona of Bruce Wayne and the film’s score elevates this movie to the level of an unforgettable blockbuster.
2. Mask Of The Phantasm
Batman Mask Of The Phantasm expertly captures the dark and brooding tone of The Caped Crusader. Featuring stellar performances by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, the film tells the tale of Bruce Wayne’s first love. At heart, the piece is a mystery, one that has a shocking conclusion and cements the reason why Batman has to continue his never-ending journey to end crime. Heavily influenced by Year One, this picture contains the definitive version of the Dark Knight and rightfully earns it’s spot at number two.
1. The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight still reigns as the greatest comic book movie ever made. Revolutionising the genre, the film was the first of its kind to win an Oscar. Feeling like a crime film as opposed to a comic book story, the movie features iconic performances from all of it’s cast, most notably Heath Ledger.
The Dark Knight ticks all the boxes, balancing drama with dark humour it packs a real punch on every level. Showcasing the fall of Harvey Dent we are treated to a movie that features expansive metaphors on the Iraq War and economic game theory. Influencing all that followed, The Dark Knight shaped the landscape for comic book movies and it’s influence is still seen today across the board.
As good today as it was upon release, The Dark Knight is the number one Batman film ever made.
So that is my list of the Batman Movies Ranked From Best To Worst. Did you agree? Have you seen Justice League yet and if so what did you think? Do you agree with the Justice League Rotten Tomatoes Score? Comment below and let me know and if you enjoyed this video please like and subscribe to my youtube channel as I do videos on Comics, Games and Movies every week. Also please check out my Dark Knight Returns series in which I read through the Frank Miller comics in chronological order and rank them accordingly.