Batman is arguably the most iconic and popular superhero of all time, which is all the more impressive when you consider that he doesn’t even have superpowers. There have been countless versions of the character throughout comics, movies, and television, and everyone has a favorite. Now that Ben Affleck has donned the cape and cowl for the foreseeable future, let’s take a look back at all of the live action Batman movies we’ve seen thus far, and figure out which one reigns supreme.
9. Batman and Robin
I don’t think many people would argue that Batman and Robin isn’t the worst Batman movie. There are just so many things to hate, including Bat-nipples, George Clooney’s bored acting, the ditzy portrayal of Batgirl, the Bat American Express Card, the Frankenstein’s Monster version of Bane, and a different ice related pun every fifteen seconds. I mean, I love Arnold Schwarzenegger as much as the next guy, but cool it with the jokes. See what I did there?
8. Batman v Superman
I know there are plenty of people out there that have somehow convinced themselves that they liked Batman v Superman, but I typically don’t take into account the opinions of crazy people. This movie is a steaming pile of unwatchable trash. It’s way too long and still manages to be utterly confusing, there are unnecessary dream sequences that have nothing to do with the plot, and Jesse Eisenberg gives what is possibly the lamest portrayal of Lex Luthor ever. Read more about how this movie sucks in my review.
7. Batman (1966)
The original Batman movie is in a genre all its own. The tv show was purposely campy, which a lot of people nowadays don’t seem to understand. It was still overly stupid at times, but in general, it was a fun, different take on the character. The movie followed suit, giving us two of the most famous Adam West Batman scenes: Batman trying to shake off an exploding shark, and Batman trying to save citizens from a bomb, which also spawned the famous quote “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” It’s not a good movie, but at least it’s fun.
6. Batman Returns
A lot of people hold the Tim Burton Batman movies in very high regard, and compared to the Joel Schumacher editions, I can see why. But go back and watch Batman Returns. It sucks. Catwoman is such an odd, inconsistent character that becomes part cat for basically no reason. Danny Devito was perfect casting for Penguin, but even his story makes almost no sense, and the climax of the film is absurd. Going from the relatively realistic (if highly gothic) prequel to this was a serious disconnect. Tim Burton definitely created one of the most visually interesting versions of Gotham we’ve seen, but his second movie was not great.
5. The Dark Knight Rises
Similar to Tim Burton, there are plenty of people that worship the ground Christopher Nolan walks on, and I get it. He’s a visionary director and his first two Batman movies are stellar films. But The Dark Knight Rises is overly self-indulgent, too long, and doesn’t live up to the Knightfall comic from which it draws inspiration. I liked that Marion Cotillard’s Miranda turned out to be the true villain, but it was a little too obvious for my tastes. This definitely isn’t a terrible movie, but I don’t really have a ton of interest in watching it again, and that’s saying something.
4. Batman Forever
If I haven’t already lost you with my derision for Batman v Superman, Batman Returns, and The Dark Knight Rises, I’m sure to lose you here. Batman Forever is the 4th best Batman movie? You bet your spandex wearin’ ass it is. There are plenty of dumb, Joel Schumachery things in this movie, from the insane depiction of Gotham to the over the top characters, but Val Kilmer makes a much better Batman than Clooney, and if you’re willing to dive into the circumstances, Jim Carrey is brilliant as The Riddler. Yes, a lot of the movie is ridiculous, but it’s still fun. I much prefer that to something as self-serious and at times boring as The Dark Knight Rises.
3. Batman (1989)
This is where we get to the cream of the crop. Before Nolan made his stamp on the franchise, 1989’s Batman was all we fans had to hold onto. The gothic tone perfectly fit the character while still adding some humor to Michael Keaton’s portrayal, Jack Nicholson was what everyone wanted out of Joker at the time, and the ending was suitably dark. Everything felt pretty grounded, which can’t be said of the sequel. For being over 25 years old, this movie is still very watchable, with some great pyrotechnics and simple yet effective fight scenes.
2. Batman Begins
When it first came out, there were a lot of detractors to Batman Begins. People criticized the modern film style of quick cuts and shaky cam, saying it diluted the flow of Batman’s combat. It didn’t personally bother me, and there were plenty of other things to love. There have been great portrayals of both Bruce Wayne and Batman over the years, but I never felt like anyone nailed both until Christian Bale. He was cocky, insecure, stubborn, and depressive, all at the same time. It’s no wonder he’s gone on to be nominated for multiple Academy Awards. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and the rest of the supporting cast were also outstanding (except Katie Holmes, of course).
1. The Dark Knight
This probably won’t surprise anyone. I’ve not only heard most people say that Dark Knight is the best Batman film, but I’ve even heard people argue that it’s the best film of all time. I personally think that’s way overboard, but it is a fantastic movie. Obviously, there’s Heath Ledger’s turn as Joker. I admit that I was among the people nervous when that bit of casting was announced, but he really earned that posthumous Academy Award. His character was so varied and three dimensional, and had that perfect combination of being unpredictable and deranged, yet brilliant. Christian Bale’s character arc was also engrossing, as was Aaron Eckhart’s flawed Harvey Dent. The movie just has so many nuances that require repeat viewings to find and so much interesting conflict. It’s definitely a personal favorite of mine.
And there you have it, all nine Batman movies ranked in the absolute proper order, with no openings for disagreement. But in all seriousness, I’m sure plenty of you disagree with some of my placements, so let me know in the comments below! And if you enjoyed, check out some of my other movie rankings!