Alfred Pennyworth: “Sir, if you don’t mind my saying, I’m a little concerned. I’ve seen you go through similar phases in 2016, and 2012, and 2008, and 2005, and 1997, and 1995, and 1992, and 1989… and that weird one in 1966.”
Batman: “I have aged phenomenally.” – The Lego Batman Movie
Batman is DC Comics’ biggest cash cow. Since his debut in 1943’s The Batman, he has been featured in 27 movies. Some were good, others were bad, and one had the misfortune of being Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. So what are the best Batman movies? Let’s find out. Quickly, to the Bat-Article!
List criteria: Only one movie per series.
#5: Batman: The Movie (1966)
Batman: “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”
Based on the iconic TV show from the 60’s, Batman: The Movie features The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and Catwoman (Julie Newmar) uniting to conquer the world. The only two who can stop this evil alliance are the Dynamic Duo, Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward).
Why this movie?: Batman: The Movie is a tonic for fans who are sick of a grim and brooding Batman. Future Batman movies struggled to appear serious, but this film embraces the ridiculous nature of a billionaire and his companion fighting crime in tights.
#4 Batman: Under The Red Hood
Red Hood: “You can’t stop crime. That’s what you never understood. I’m controlling it. You wanna rule them by fear. But what do you do with the ones who aren’t afraid? I’m doing what you won’t, I’m taking them out!”
Batman: “Tell me what happened to you. Let me help.”
Red Hood: “It’s too late. You had your chance. And I’m just getting started.”
Batman: Under The Red Hood follows Batman as he investigates a gang war between crime boss Black Mask (Wade Williams) and the titular vigilante Red Hood (Supernatural’s Jensen Ackles). Red Hood stays one step ahead of Batman and even knows his secret identity.
Bats soon realizes that Red Hood is more than a vigilante; he used to be an ally. But who is Red Hood? I’m not spoiling that secret.
Why this movie?: Batman: Under The Red Hood uses several lesser known characters to great effect and showcases a major moral dilemma for Batman: should he send his foes to jail or kill them so they can never harm anyone again? You make the call.
#3) The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest
Superman: “I heard you were crazy. I didn’t think you were stupid. [uses X-ray vision to see through Batman’s cowl] Bruce Wayne?”
Batman: “You peeked.”
World’s Finest united DC Comics’ dream team, Batman (Kevin Conroy) and Superman (Tim Daly) a full decade before before Batman v. Superman. The Joker (Mark Hamill) steals a statue made of Kryptonite and travels to Metropolis. Joker makes Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown) a deal, he will kill Superman for one billion dollars.
At the same time, Batman heads to Metropolis and clashes with Superman over their differing versions of heroism. To make matters worse, Bruce Wayne is wooing Lois Lane to Clark Kent’s ire. The pair must learn to work together if they want to save the day. And yes, it is a superhero soap opera.
Why this movie?: The Batman/Superman Movie: World’s Finest is three episodes of a Superman cartoon glued together with spit and gumption. It’s a far better crossover between the two biggest superheroes than the $300 million flop Batman v Superman. That movie was so bad that the producers couldn’t even spring for the letter “s” in the title’s vs abbreviation. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of that movie. Trust me, the salt will flow.
#2 The Dark Knight
Commissioner Gordon: “He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we’ll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A Dark Knight.”
The Dark Knight is arguably the most iconic Batman movie. A sprawling epic showcasing a realistic Batman (Christian Bale), the transformation of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) into Two-Face, and the most depraved Joker (Heath Ledger) ever filmed.
Why this movie?: The Dark Knight was proof that DC could compete with the Marvel movie juggernaut. Dark Knight won two Oscars, including the prestigious Best Supporting Actor awarded posthumously to Heath Ledger, and was nominated for six more. The Dark Knight would have been the top Batman movie on our list if director Christopher Nolan didn’t subject audiences to at least four false endings.
#1 Batman (1989)
Batman: “I’m not gonna kill you. I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me.”
Crook: “What ARE you?!”
Batman: “I’m Batman.”
One of the most influential superhero movies ever made, Batman is our choice for the greatest Batman movie. This movie features a young Batman (Michael Keaton) beginning his crusade against crime while assassin Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) begins his reign of terror as The Joker.
Why this movie?: Batman replaced Adam West’s goofy hero with the more recognizable vengeful vigilante. The movie also gave The Joker an origin story decades before Martin Scorsese decided to try that. Throw in one of the greatest superhero soundtracks of all time, and you have the definitive Batman movie.
That’s our list. What are your favorite Batman movies? Leave a comment.