Batman has graced the big screen multiple times over the years. Some versions are light and campy, some versions are dark and gritty, and some of them are simply disappointing. I’ll attempt to Critically Rate the Batman films, but keep in mind that these are my opinions. You can disagree with me all you want… You’ll be wrong, but you can still disagree with me. Here is my list ranking the Batman movies from worst to best.
#8: Batman & Robin was director Joel Schumacher’s second Batman film, and was the first and only time that George Clooney played the Caped Crusader. This was the film that introduced us to Batgirl and to Batnipples. It was an awful film and effectively killed the franchise until Christopher Nolan rebooted it 8 years later. It suffered from a terrible story and from action scenes that only existed to sell toys. And Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers some of the worst ice-related puns in cinematic history.
#7: Batman was a 1966 movie based on the ‘60s TV show. It’s super campy, but that’s what it was trying to be. Adam West plays Batman, Burt Ward plays Robin, and together they take on the Joker, the Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman. They also fight an obviously fake shark at one point. This is the one where it says BAM! and POW! and WHAM! every time Batman punches somebody. It’s safe to say that it put comic book movies back a few decades.
#6: Batman Begins marked the successful return of Batman to the big screen after the fiasco that was Batman & Robin. It was a critical and financial success, and it depicted a more realistic Batman. Too bad this movie sucked. Christian Bale is a bad Batman. He plays a decent Bruce Wayne, but he’s a terrible Batman. His stupid fucking Batman voice ruins the movie. The action scenes were chaotic and poorly choreographed. You can’t see what is going on. I paid good money to watch Batman punch people, and it looked like Michael J. Fox was the cameraman. Everything is shaky and out of focus. And they ruined the Batmobile. Christopher Nolan was trying to bring Batman to the real world, but superheroes have no place in the real world.
#5: Batman Forever was a turning point in the franchise. It’s gritty, it’s campy, it’s very ‘90s. Joel Schumacher took over for Tim Burton, Val Kilmer took over for Michael Keaton, and Chris O’Donnell was brought in to play Robin. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey play Two-Face and the Riddler and they were both horribly miscast. Batman Forever is a step in the wrong direction, but it’s still a guilty pleasure for a lot of Batman fans.
#4: The Dark Knight Rises was the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. It was a satisfying conclusion, but was ultimately a letdown because The Dark Knight was so much better. The movie suffers from a lot of plot holes and poor execution, not to mention a villain with an unintelligible accent. And the nuke at the end would have caused radiation and cancer in Gotham City. So the citizens wouldn’t die instantly, they would die slowly and painfully. Good job, Batman.
#3 Batman Returns was the first Batman sequel. Tim Burton and Michael Keaton were reunited from their smash 1989 film, and it was a very satisfying follow-up. It’s defiantly Tim Burton’s Batman, it has a dark and dreamlike quality. He takes a lot of liberties with the source material, and some people hate the movie because of that. But the film is redeemed because it has the best villain lineup out of all the movies. Danny DeVito is the terrifying and creepy Penguin. Michelle Pfeiffer is the deadly and seductive Catwoman. And Christopher Walken plays the corrupt and powerful Max Shreck.
#2: The Dark Knight would be at the top of most people’s Batman movie list because most people are sheep. It’s a very solid movie, there’s no denying that. Heath Ledger did an amazing job playing the Joker. But everyone else is just kind of so-so. Christian Bale keeps using that stupid fucking voice, Maggie Gyllenhaal replaces Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawson and drags the film down every time she’s on screen, and Aaron Eckhart is mediocre as Harvey Dent/Two-Face. There were some cool action scenes, but this movie was mostly a huge success because Heath Ledger died and people wanted to see the movie that killed him. It’s a really good film, but it’s not as amazing as everyone pretends it is. The opening scene is the highlight of the film, a great IMAX sequence that introduces us to the Joker. But it’s a Batman movie and they don’t even give Batman the IMAX treatment when he first appears on screen. It seems kind of backwards to me, but what do I know?
#1: The best Batman movie to date is Tim Burton’s Batman. This was the first gritty version of Batman to hit the big screen. They took a risk by casting Michael Keaton as Batman, but it paid off and he’s still the best Batman/Bruce Wayne to date. Jack Nicholson is an excellent Joker and is disturbingly maniacal despite his exaggerated performance. It’s kind of dated now (mostly because of Prince’s soundtrack), but it still holds up. If this movie flopped, they wouldn’t have made any more Batman movies. It effectively saved superhero movies, and for that reason alone it deserves the top spot on this list.
So that’s my list. I hope you agree with it. Let me know if you don’t.
Critically Rated at 15/17
Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young