On the 25th Anniversary of Tim Burton’s Batman Movie, a Personal Ranking of All the Batman Films

Because this article on Tor.com reminded me that today is the day.

In order from best to so not best:

1. The Dark Knight

2. Batman (1989)

3. The LEGO Movie

4. Batman Begins

5. Batman Forever

6. The Dark Knight Rises

7. Batman Returns

8. Batman: The Movie (1966)

9. Batman and Robin

Not ranked: Any of the direct-to-video DC-branded animated Batman movies, as I’ve not seen them, although I know a lot of people who swear by them.

Your ranking?

77 Comments on “On the 25th Anniversary of Tim Burton’s Batman Movie, a Personal Ranking of All the Batman Films”

  1. I haven’t bothered with the reboots, to be honest. My guilty pleasure is Batman Forever–it’s ridiculous and funny and I think captures what we all liked about comics as kids. Plus it’s got a great soundtrack. ;)

    The ’97 B&R? Oh GOD that was horrible. About the only good thing that came out of that was that Smashing Pumpkins song.

  2. A solid ranking, but Batman (1989) has aged quite poorly for me so I’d knock it down a few. (Sorry, that Nicholson performance to me is too much just Jack in greasepaint.)

    1. The Dark Knight

    2. The LEGO Movie

    3. Batman Begins

    4. The Dark Knight Rises

    5. Batman Returns

    6. Batman Forever

    7. Batman (1989)

    8. Batman: The Movie (1966)

    9. Batman and Robin

  3. My goodness, has it been 25 years already? All had their ups and downs, 1989 Batman, the Dark Knight and Batman Begins are my three favorites. Batman and Robin pretty much destroyed the series until Chris Nolan revived it.

  4. Pretty accurate I’d say. Though to me Kevin Conroy is my Batman. So anything he voices is in my top list.

  5. .
    I’d like to see a Batman played by Johnny Depp.

    I’d like to see a Batman in interstellar space dealing with extraterrestrial intelligences as in Avatar or Green Lantern or John Carter. Obviously, this could go VERY wrong…

  6. The Dark Knight’s the best. I refuse to watch any others. Except for Batman Begins and Dark Knight Rises.

  7. I haven’t seen The LEGO Movie yet so can’t include that one.

    1. Batman Begins
    2. Batman (1989)
    3. The Dark Knight
    4. Batman Forever
    5. Batman (1966)
    6. Batman Returns
    7. The Dark Knight Rises
    8. Batman and Robin

  8. Having just re-watched all 4 of the original Batman movies my friends and I came to the startling conclusion that Batman and Robin is actually by far the best one. It totally works if you take it as a comic book movie.

  9. I remember seeing the animated Mask of the Phantasm in theaters; I’d rank it above Batman Forever, and maybe half a step behind Batman Begins.

    There should be a rule for anyone trying to do a Batman-related work, nowadays: if your script can’t clear the bar set by The Animated Series, you’re not ready to start filming.

  10. I grew up with the DC Animated Universe. Kevin Conroy will always be my Batman and Mark Hamill will always be my Joker. So my ranking is roughly:

    1. Return of the Joker
    2. Under The Red Hood (would be first, but it has neither Conroy nor Hamill so it doesn’t sound right)
    3. The Dark Knight
    4. Various other animated movies I’m not going to rank individually
    5. Batman Begins
    6. Batman: The Movie
    7. Pretty much all other live-action Batman films.

  11. 1. The Dark Knight

    2. Batman (1989)

    3. The LEGO Movie

    4. Batman Begins

    5. Batman Returns

    6. The Dark Knight Rises

    7. Batman: The Movie (1966)

    8. Batman Forever

    I would put Batman Returns over Dark Knight Rises. My Batman Forever experience saved me from seeing Batman and Robin.

  12. My personal list?

    1) The Dark Knight
    2) Batman Begins
    3) Mask of the Phantasm
    4) Return of the Joker (being familiar with Batman Beyond helps)
    5) The Dark Knight Rises
    6) Under the Red Hood
    7) Batman (1989)
    8) The Dark Knight Returns
    9) Batman Returns
    10) Batman (1966)
    11) Batman Forever
    12) Batman and Robin

  13. My favorite? That would be the mid-’60s TV show. Brilliant parody of the old B&R serials from the ’40s. No, really. Compare the two sometime.

  14. Probably similar, though I’d put The Dark Knight Rises over Batman Forever, which I really like less and less as time goes on (and I like Rises better the more I think about Bane).

    Of the animated movies, I’d put Batman: Return of the Joker as maybe second overall, just under Dark Knight. And I’d put Mask of the Phantasm just below Batman Begins.

    So many of the animated episodes work so perfectly as short films, however, “Feet of Clay”, “Heart of Ice”; it’s chilling even to think about them. Real brilliance there.

  15. Pretty similar for me, although I would rank the 1960’s Batman a fair bit higher. As a 60’s comedy, I find it pretty funny (“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” “Gosh, Batman. The nobility of the almost-human porpoise”, the Oceanic Repellent Bat-Sprays, etc.). It knew it was an absurd comedy, and it did a great job at that.

  16. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is better than ANY of them. Still far and away the best Batman movie ever made (and it did have a quick theatrical release that got lost in a flood of other Christmas movies, it was not direct-to-video)

  17. 1. Dark Knight
    2. Batman Forever
    3. Batman Begins
    4. Dark Knight Rises
    5. Batman and Robin
    6. LEGO Movie
    7. Batman
    8. Batman Returns

    The first three would be more accurately ranked “1a, 1b, 1c” and shuffle on a regular basis.
    There’s more separation between 6 and 7 than 1 and 6.
    As one can probably tell, I find the Burton/Keaton movies, especially Returns, to have aged poorly. I probably would have liked them more 15-20 years ago.
    I haven’t seen the 1966 movie.

  18. Batman 1989 was awesome, only because it came after decades of campy Adam West Batman. I still remember how i was in a theater watching some movie in 1988 and the trailer came on. Even before they revealed Batman, i knew it was a new Batman movie and was pumped up

  19. Batman and Robin pretty much destroyed the series until Chris Nolan revived it.

    And yet Mask of the Phantasm came out in 2000, didn’t it?

    A number of years back, sometime after Miller published Dark Knight Returns I was in the Waldenbooks checkout line behind a mom with a young boy, who was eying the graphic novel on display. Sez mom: “No, you don’t need that, too [violent/dark/something]. I don’t know what happened to Batman, he used to be funny and now they’re making him into something [nasty/violent/etc].”

    None of us step into the same river as another reader/viewer.

  20. Would you please clarify whether you’re referring to “The Lego Movie” or “Lego Batman: The Movie”? (I have not seen either.)

  21. Historians will one day recognize George Clooney as the Best. Batman. Ever.

  22. The one about which what’s her name said “[the way I’d get two guys to stop fighting is lift my blouse].”

  23. I’ll have to leave off the LEGO Movie as I’ve not yet seen it, but of the remaining flicks my ranking goes…

    1. The Dark Knight

    2. Batman Begins

    3. Batman Returns

    4. Batman (1989)

    5. The Dark Knight Rises

    6. Batman Forever

    7. Batman: The Movie (1966)

    8. Batman and Robin

  24. I liked Batman Forever. Val Kilmer was an OKay Batman and the script walked the line between camp and seriousness.

  25. 1: The Dark Knight
    2: The Dark Knight Rises
    3: Batman (1989)
    4: Batman Returns
    5: Batman Begins
    6: Batman Forever
    7: Batman and Robin

    I can’t say that I’ve seen anymore of these batman movies… unless we are counting cartoon batman movies. No one else seems to be however, so I won’t also

  26. Seconding the notion that Mask of the Phantasm ought to be in any list about Batman movies. I’ve honestly enjoyed most of the Dini/Timm DCA (DC Animated) Batman movies more than the live action ones. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker was also really good.


    1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    2. Batman Begins
    3. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
    4. Batman: Under the Red Hood
    5. Batman (Tim Burton)
    6. Batman Returns
    7. The Dark Knight
    8. Batman: Year Zero
    9. Batman: Subzero
    10. Batman (1966)
    11. Batman Forever/Batman & Robin

    *still haven’t seen: The LEGO Movie, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman; Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (pt 1 & 2), Son of Batman, and Assault on Arkham Asylum (out in Aug 2014).

  27. Batman and Robin pretty much destroyed the series until Chris Nolan revived it.

    And yet Mask of the Phantasm came out in 2000, didn’t it?

    Actually, Mask of the Phantasm came out Christmas of 1993.

  28. I’d argue that Batman and Lego Batman are two different characters. Lego Batman is a resident of Lego World, and believes he is the real Batman. But the Lego Movie makes clear that “Lego World” and “live action world” are two different places. “Real Batman” ostensibly lives in the latter.

    Otherwise the ranking is pretty good, although I have a certain fondness for Batman Returns — largely for the magnificent villainy from Michelle Pfieffer, Christopher Walken and Danny DeVito, in that order. So I would put it a few places higher, just above Batman Forever.

  29. I have never seen a Batman movie that seemed as good as the animation options. I agree with AnnaLee; Kevin Conroy will always be my Batman and Mark Hamill will always be my Joker.
    Plus, the animated shows and movies gave us awesome female heroes and villains. The movies only gave us T&A and face palms.

  30. Of the Batman movies I’ve seen, I’d go:
    Batman 1989
    Return Of the Joker
    Batman ’66
    Batman Returns
    Batman Forever
    All “How It Should have Ended Super-Cafe shorts”
    Dark Knight
    Tie for Last Place: Batman Begins and Batman and Robin.

    Not seen: Dark Knight Rises, Lego Movie, All other animated Bat-movies.

    Personally I think that the “gritty” movies are just as excessive in their use of grimdark as the Batman and Robin movie was in its use of unironic camp. Same sin, different expression of it.

  31. Hmm… Never thought about it in this way…

    1) The Dark Knight
    2) Batman Begins

    (a bit of space)

    3) The Dark Knight Rises
    4) The LEGO Movie
    5) Batman Returns
    6) Batman (1989)

    (a vast chasm of nigh astronomical proportions)

    7) Batman Forever
    8) Batman and Robin

    I really, really didn’t like the Schumacher movies.

  32. Hmm… I am a fan of the 1966 Batman. Daughter and I love seeing the appearance of the Bat Ladder. She says she’s going to cosplay it some time.

  33. I liked the first Burton Batman movie, but disliked each of the sequels with ascending intensity. Batman and Robin was so excruciatingly awful that I consider it unwatchable except by masochists. In retrospect, Batman 66 (series and theatrical movie) was far superior, camp and all.

    I was reasonably pleased with Batman Begins and Dark Knight, although the latter would have been better if they hadn’t tried to sandwich two screenplays into a single story. The Dark Knight Rises was okay, but kept hovering on the border of tedious.

    I frankly believe that the best on-screen portrayal of Batman, bar none, was in Bruce Timm’s 1992-95 Batman: The Animated Series, with Batman voiced by Kevin Conroy, who has by now played the character longer and more consistently than all the other Batman actors combined. Most of the superior direct-to-video movies cited above were direct spin-offs of the series and exist in the same continuity, including:

    Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    Batman: Subzero
    Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
    Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

    As do all of these spinoff TV series and their spinoff movies:

    Superman: The Animated Series (Batman/Superman meeting was released on its own DVD)
    Batman Beyond
    Justice League
    Justice League Unlimited

    All of them together make up one long metastory that goes way beyond what a single movie can do.

    I also enjoyed the completely different approach taken by Batman: The Brave and the Bold, a team-up show which re-injected some of the 1950’s/60’s lightheartedness and whimsy into the series, while still being capable of producing genuinely moving episodes like “In the Chill of the Night”, where Batman hunts down his parents’ murderer.

    And, finally, the too-short-lived 2011-13 Young Justice animated series had a genuinely kickass take on Batman (and, more importantly in context) Robin and the nature of their partnership.

  34. I’m not so good at ranking things like movies, so I just toss them into three groups: Movies I Would Happily Watch Again, Movies I Enjoyed Seeing Once, and Once Was One Time Too Many.

    Would Happily Watch Again…
    Batman (Tim Burton)
    Batman Returns (mostly for the villains)
    Batman Begins
    The Dark Knight
    The Dark Knight Rises (although Bane’s voice is a big problem for the hearing-impaired members of my family)

    Enjoyed Seeing Once…
    Batman Forever
    Most of the animated movies

    Once Was One Time Too Many…
    Batman and Robin
    Batman (1966)

    On the whole, the many iterations of Batman have been good to me. I look forward to seeing where he goes next.

  35. I think I’ve seen all of the live action Batman films except the most recent one, but I’m not even sure that if you gave me the list in random order if I could give you a precis of each film and the name of the villain.

    I think I prefer Batman ’66 over the serious ones. I guess I have a bit of trouble accepting grim Batman at face value.

  36. Funny, when I started reading your post, I didn’t care what everyone thought. But by then end of all the comments, I think I needed to straighten everyone out.

    Joel Schumacher murdered the first re-boot series. He has admitted so. He has said “I still I owe the world a really good Batman movie”. Or some such, because he wanted to direct ANOTHER one. And Tim Burton — who’s best film is still “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” — gets far too much credit for “Batman” and “Batman Returns”. That stuff was already there for the not-screwing-up, thanks to Frank Miller.

    As for “Batman And Robin” being good because if you look at it from the comic-booky lens, then maybe you’ll understand….. Well, apply that logic to “Battlefield Earth”. Have at it.

    To some extant, all of the First Reboot series rely upon stunt casting, like the TV series. The Nolan series, not so much. Nobody casts Gary Oldman for a stunt. And Heath Ledger was hardly money at the time. Tom Hardy? Who?

    One more: a campy Batman is not Batman. It’s camp. Like Spinal Tap singing “Christmas With The Devil”.

    Time for me to step up. I’ve dug myself a hole, so here’s my list.

    1) Dark Knight
    2) Dark Knight Rises
    3) Batman Begins
    these three are really one story

    huge dropoff

    4) Batman Returns — I love Pfeiffer’s Catwoman.
    5) Batman Forever — Nicole! Chris O’Donnell should not be let near a movie set.
    6) Batman 89 — Prince soundtrack! And yes, Basinger!


    7) Batman ’66 — if they had used Julie Newmar, this would have been higher.

    dropping off of a cliff




    8) Batman and Robin — it KILLED the first re-boot franchise. Please don’t pretend otherwise. Alicia went from a size 4 to a size 8 to a size 12 to a size 6….. Worst casting ever in a Batman movie, even as a stunt — she was popular at the time, remember. Looked stoned 1/2 the time. Also, see #5 above. Schwarzenegger’s worst role. That’s saying something.

    I do not consider The Lego Movie to be a Batman movie. Similarly, I do not consider “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” to be a Mickey Mouse movie. Or a Bugs Bunny movie, etc, etc.

    And enough with the cartoons. The lists was specifically limited to the live action stuff. I get it that you are hipper than me. I lose on that front.

  37. 1966 Batman is GREAT for what it is. It’s not a dark Batman, and it’s not supposed to be. I’d probably put that one just below the LEGO movie. It’s silly, and ridiculous, and not meant to be taken seriously. Judging on that, it’s better than a lot of the others.

  38. Viktor Nehring, John said he hasn’t seen the animated movies, so he didn’t rank them. He said nothing about not including them for those that have.

    1. Batman Begins, best origin although it loses a bit for the ending.
    2. Batman, was afraid it was going to suck (Michael Keaton!? As Batman! Noooooo!) but it really good.
    3. Batman: The Animated Series, pretty much everything about this is great. Haven’t seen the movies or Batman Beyond yet, but looking forward to them.
    4. The Dark Knight, great follow up and did a good job with multiple villains, unlike most of the films.
    5. Batman Returns, decent followup to the first, loved Catwoman in this one.
    6. Batman 1960s, the series and the movie. Just lots of campy fun, and not that different from some of the stories told in the 50s & 60s comics.

    I haven’t seen Dark Knight Returns or The Lego Movie, so can’t rate them , and almost the rest of the first series of films just run together for me. They each have good and bad in them but nothing to really put one over the other for me.

  39. @ drkbish – I stand corrected, thank you. And so my point is made null.

    @ Vicktor – The lists was specifically limited to the live action stuff. I don’t think the intent was a “well, if you’re not going to talk about Hamlet in the original Klingon then your opinon has no merit whatsoever” geekier-than-thou put down. (At least on my part it was not.)

    As a character and a franchise that has gone from kid’s comicbooks through adult novels, live action tv, film, as well as animation theater and tv, gaining nemisi,sidekicks and an entire extended family along the way, Batman transends a number of boundaries. I think the intent was to point out how incomplete a picture of even “Batman movies” one gets when just focusing on the live action films.

  40. I’m not going to argue your ranking, Scalzi, largely because I think it’s case of arguing nuances – but you really REALLY should try the “Timmverse” (Bruce Timm and Paul Dini in the Nineties) DC Animated Universe Batman. They’re some of the best written Batman stories ever, and they get the characters spot-on – even their interpolations, like The Joker’s girlfriend Harley Quinn or Batman and Wonder Woman sort-of kind-of getting romantically involved, fit within the context of their characters.

  41. 1. The LEGO Movie

    2. The Dark Knight

    3. Batman Begins

    4. Batman (1989)

    5. Batman: The Movie (1966)

    6. Batman Forever

    7. Batman Returns

    8. Batman and Robin

    9. The Dark Knight Rises

    It should be noted that The only reason that TDK rates so high is because of both villain portrayals which were wonderful. Batman begins is up there because I THOUGHT Nolan was going to give me a proper Batman franchise, and it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the case. Even the Great Schumacher debacle rates higher than DKR in my opinion because at least he was still making a movie about Batman. As it turns out, Nolan made a franchise about a guy-who-set-out-to-change-the-world-but-decided-that-he-really-just-wanted-to-be-loved. I’m still waiting on a proper Batman franchise to capture who and what that character is.

    On a final note, I can’t decide which is worse. Bale’s winded dialogue or Keaton’s duck face (As pictured above).

  42. You’re off the reservation, John. There’s no way Batman Forever is better than Dark Knight Rises.
    C’mon dude.

  43. 1. The Dark Knight
    2. The LEGO Movie
    3. Batman (1989)
    4. Batman Begins
    5. Batman Forever
    6. Batman: The Movie (1966)
    7. Batman Returns
    8. The Dark Knight Rises
    9. Batman and Robin

    I hated DKR, and think it’s absolutely one of the worst. While it is certainly a better acted movie than Returns or the 66 movie, there are probably more holes in it than any of the other.

    It’s biggest sin is just how often it breaks your suspension of disbelief with those gaping holes. B&R was just a bad movie, and it was so ridiculous that you couldn’t take it seriously, but DKR just left you going “wait a minute” so often that it was almost unwatchable.

  44. Oddly enough, the only thing I remember from the 1989 Batman movie are a couple of jokes. One involves what happens to Gotham’s TV newscasters once they learn The Joker has possibly poisoned their cosmetics. The other concerns the gun The Joker uses to shoot down the Batplane.

    Aside from that, I haven’t watched that many of the live action Batman films. So my list would look like this:

    1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
    2. Batman Begins
    3. The Dark Knight
    4. The Dark Knight Rises (It still needs to explain how Gotham’s trapped cops didn’t turn into cannibals or at least smell very ripe.)
    5. Batman (1989)

  45. Just happy to see that your list, and many others, are giving Batman Forever some, if not love, at least not the abject hate it usually gets.

    It for me is the one that appeals to younger (10ish) viewers most, and is a well done, over all fun movie. Not toooo campy, not too dark. Unlike the truly worst-ever-batman that came next, and the pretty awful one that came before, I think Batman Forever is the best existing example of the lighter style Batman story that’s not drowning in angst and darkness.

  46. “The Lego Movie?” Not sure if serious? It was such an ancillary role how can that be enough to rank?

  47. Slide Batman Forever down to #8 and were in business. I think this is the closest I’ve ever come to completely agreeing with your taste in art. Love that you included the Lego Movie. Love also that you specified that your haven’t seen any DC branded animated Batman movies, because some voice in your head knew irritatingly pedantic nags such as myself would point out that the Lego Movie is animated. Go pedants!

  48. (Yet) Another fan of 1966 Batman here. It’s just so wonderfully over the top, complete with disclaimer at the beginning! And pudgy Adam West running all over the place trying to get rid of a bomb and none of the pedestrians giving him even the slightest notice. They just don’t make movies like that anymore! Bam! Pow!

  49. 1. Batman Begins
    2. The Dark Knight Rises
    3. The Dark Knight
    4. Batman (1989)
    5. Batman Returns
    6. Batman Forever
    7. Batman: The Movie (1966)
    8. Batman and Robin

  50. It has been a while since I have seen a bunch of them, but below is my list as best I can recall. I am pretty sure I have seen Batman and Robin, but seem to have (probably intentionally) blocked all memory of it:

    1. The Dark Knight
    2. Dark Knight Rises
    3. Batman Returns
    4. Batman Begins
    5. Batman
    6. Batman the Movie (1966)
    7. Batman Forever
    8. The Lego Movie

  51. To address a couple of list-construction issues: I have to agree with Talisker about Lego Batman being fundamentally a Different Character, so although I quite liked The LEGO Movie, it won’t appear on my list. OTOH, I will include Mask of the Phantasm on the grounds that — alone of all the animated Batfeatures — it got a legitimate theatrical release, and thus belongs in a list of theatrically released Batflicks.

    So, my ranking:

    1. Batman (1989)
    2. Mask of the Phantasm
    3. Batman Begins
    4. The Dark Knight
    5. Batman (1966)
    6. Batman Returns
    7. Batman Forever
    8. Batman & Robin
    9. The Dark Knight Rises


    All of these are flawed to one degree or another; I don’t think anyone has yet made a definitive Bat-feature. (That said, I agree with the large section of the gallery that regards the “Timmverse” animated canon running from Batman:TAS forward as a near-definitive translation of the comics continuity to “active” visual media. I just don’t think you can compare that large a body of work, extending over a double handful of TV series and an even larger handful of feature-length works, to singly released theatrical films. They’re different animals.)

    I rank the 1989 film first because I think it comes closest of any of the live-action features to catching the full range of the spirit of the comics canon. Keaton is not necessarily the best Batman of the lot, nor Nicholson the best Joker, but the film as a whole hits more of the right notes than any of the other live-action films. Phantasm is next because it’s more of a legitimate mystery than any of the others (and because Kevin Conroy’s voice work is just that good). The Dark Knight Rises is last because even checking my brain at the door failed to make the plot remotely believable; at least Adam West’s turn is essentially consistent from start to finish, and West makes the camp work better than any of Keaton, Kilmer, or Clooney.

  52. Batman is a very hard character to capture on film. As written now, he’s the top martial artist on the planet, the equivalent of an Olympic class gymnast, and one of the most brilliant minds on the planet. That’s pretty difficult to depict. Forget the camp of the 60’s – Batman is a very dark character. Grim? Noir? You bet your ass. The character began that way, too, and the biff-bam-pow of the 60’s was a complete aberration (thank God). As for the movies (I haven’t seen the Lego movie):

    1. The Dark Knight –
    2. Batman Begins
    … gap
    3. The Dark Knight Rises
    … gap
    4. Batman (1989)
    … massive gap
    5. Batman Returns
    … Grand Canyon sized gap
    6. Batman Forever
    … Valles Marineres
    7. Batman and Robin

    Why I ranked them this way (I thought you might like enough warning to skip this part):

    TDK: Batman is memorable for his villains, and Heath Ledger absolutely blew me away. It caught the random, murderous madness of the Joker beautifully.

    BB: I enjoyed the origin story. Also thought Gary Oldman and Michael Caine were fantastic, and enjoyed the expanded role of Lucius Fox.

    TDKR: weakest of that trilogy – I watched the trilogy as a marathon when it came out. Didn’t want to see Shinzon of Remus as Bane, but he did OK. Main problem for me was the city-as-hostage storyline and all the holes that came with it. In the comics, Bane came to Gotham to break Batman, but didn’t try to take over the city. It really is a better movie if you see it as part of a trilogy.

    B(1989): if a more physical presence than Michael Keaton had been chosen, this would have been ranked higher, but I had a difficult time getting past Mr. Mom as Batman. Daniel Day-Lewis would have been my choice. Thought Nicholson’s performance was very good.

    BR: I absolutely hated what Burton did to the Penguin, but on the other hand, Michelle Pfeiffer in the catsuit… woof.

    BF: the only thing keeping this from a distant last is its sequel. I was thoroughly disheartened by the return to camp. Chris O’Donnell and Val Kilmer were as wooden as Hayden Christenson’s Anakin Skywalker. Hated the depiction of Two-Face, both the acting and the makeup. The Riddler was just Jim Carrey in a green suit being Jim Carrey.

    B&R: So much awfulness. Chris O’Donnell actually got worse. Alicia Silverstone, who was as bad as him. Bat-nipples. Clooney’s worst job, ever. Ahhnold as “Meestaah Fdeeeze.” Bane as a grunting gorilla. Bat-codpieces (which, frankly, made it look like a predecessor to SNL’s ‘Ambiguously Gay Duo’). Uma Thurman in green spandex. Oh wait, that last was the only good part of the movie. Not only the worst Batman movie made since the 1977 Superman movie restarted the genre, but the worst comics movie made since then. Worse than X-men 3. Worse than Watchmen. Worse than Green Lantern. It’s the Battlefield: Earth of comics movies.

  53. I admit that the ’89 movie probably gets the closest to the comics, but I don’t count that as a plus–there’s a reason I switched to mostly reading Marvel around the time I hit puberty. Batman was probably my favorite of what DC had to offer, but it still suffered from DC’s too-typical lack of depth (at least at the time). So I’d have to rank both Dark Knight and Batman Begins as one and two respectively. I realize some will call this blasphemy, but I think they’re better than the comics. While the ’89 Batman was merely as good as the comics.

    Phantasm is pretty good. I might even rank it third. After that, it gets fuzzy, and I’m not going to bother.

  54. Having watched everything except the 1940’s serials over the last 50 years, the DCAU stuff remains my favorite. My personal feeling is that the best thing to come out of the 1989 Burton film was the DCAU materials of the 1990’s. Nonetheless, I did enjoy several of the live action films, including Burton’s first one. But the animated comes first, always.

  55. 1. Dark Knight. The Joker is epic.
    2. Batman Returns. Loved Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. It’s aaaaaaaaaall in the attitude.
    3. Batman Begins. Very good origin story, epic climax.
    4. ’66 Batman. Classic, ham&cheese fun.
    5. TDKR. Overblown, makes little sense.
    6. ’89 Batman. Jack Nicholson plays himself playing the Joker.
    7. Batman Forever. Guaaaaaah.
    8. Batman and Robin; my god, that was awful…

  56. For me it’s probably:
    Dark Knight
    Batman Begins
    Dark Knight Rises

    …big gap

    Batman Returns (I liked Burton’s penguin)
    Batman (1989) ( I didn’t like Nicholson’s Joker)

    …big gap


    Sam: I must be the only person in the world who liked Watchmen…

  57. Ooh. Can I play too?

    — Gold: would happily re-watch —

    1. The Dark Knight
    Very, very close to being pitch-perfect.

    2. Mask of the Phantasm
    Until The Dark Knight, the best scripted Batman film bar none. Note to OGH: if you have the time, do watch it. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

    3. The Lego Movie
    The most fun with the caped crusader since the 1966 film. And Awesome, of course.

    — Silver: would consider rewatching —

    4. Batman (1966)
    The first film I recall seeing, in the cinema, when it was released. I had nightmares about sharks for weeks.

    5. Batman Begins
    A good reboot/origin story, that knows what it has to do, and does it well.

    6. The Dark Knight Rises
    It has too many sub-plots and ultimately fails, but it tries so hard to succeed, and I respect that.

    7. Batman (1989)
    Should have been called ‘Joker’, and gives far far too much time to Mr. Nicholson, but Mr. Keaton was still relatively unknown and I can understand (if not approve) why it was done that way.

    — Bronze: might rewatch someday. Might. —

    8. Batman Returns
    Oswald Cobblepot was never a reject from ‘It’s Alive!’ with bad table manners and worse sexual innuendo. He was a gentleman, albeit a murdering criminal gentleman. Tim Burton / Danny DeVito’s mis-interpretation stinks. Michelle “improv skip” Pfeiffer, on the other hand…

    9. Batman Forever
    Oh dear. Jim Carrey without a safety valve, and Tommy Lee Jones being the Joker rather than Two-Face. Nuff said (if I can say that about a DC property)

    10. Batman and Robin
    Nipples. On a Bat Suit. That is all.

  58. That’s pretty difficult to depict. Forget the camp of the 60′s – Batman is a very dark character. Grim? Noir? You bet your ass. The character began that way, too, and the biff-bam-pow of the 60′s was a complete aberration (thank God).

    But didn’t that dark Batman fight those very peculiar villains. It seems like a peculiar combination to me.

  59. @James Harvey: I’ll admit it. I was being a complete hypocrite there. I liked Watchmen well enough. It’s just that so many other people didn’t – but I should have been honest. @Mike Despite his name, the Joker wasn’t a funny character. Can’t recall when any of the other villians originated.

    This the first time anyone’s ever replied to a comment of mine here, so thanks!

  60. – Movies that are extremely high quality for any genre –

    1. The Dark Knight

    – Movies that are enjoyable entries in the Batman canon –

    2. Batman Begins

    3. Batman Returns

    4. Batman (1989)

    – Competently made movies with a nonsensical plots and little respect for characters development –

    5. The Dark Knight Rises

    – The triumph of franchise dollars over franchise exhaustion –

    6. Batman Forever

    7. Batman and Robin

    I am confused to learn that The Lego Movie is considered a Batman movie. Apparently I missed something when it was being advertised and will need to check it out on video.

  61. My rankings are fairly similar to the general consensus. I’ve got:

    1. The Dark Knight
    2. Batman (1989)
    3. Batman Begins
    4. Batman: The Movie (1966)
    5. Batman Forever
    6. Batman Returns
    7. Batman and Robin
    8. The Dark Knight Rises

    The Dark Knight was imply the best Batman movie that could be made. Instead of focusing on the gadgets or the strange mythos (he’s a genius and he thinks that the best way to stop crime is to beat guys up while wearing a costume instead of by improving the school system or building new industries?), it uses actual psychology experiments to point out just how twisted the real world is.

    Batman Begins was an excellent reboot and managed to make old material feel fresh again – not an easy task! But Burton’s Batman was an excellent product of the times that still has some great chemistry between the leads. So those two are close to a tie for me.

    Batman Forever was just fun, despite Schumacher’s strange obsessions. There is something supremely silly about the scenery chewing competition that Carrey and Jones had going that makes the movie worth the popcorn.

    Devito’s grotesqueries came pretty close to ruining Batman Returns, IMHO (though I did love the scene where the dog caught the Batarang) and the movie suffered from too many plot lines. Though I agree with Sam and others that Michelle Pfieffer’s performance nearly made up for the flaws.

    Batman and Robin was simply too much of everything. Too campy to be clever, too silly to be good (nipples? really?), and too overblown to be worth watching more than once.

    And the Dark Knight Rises failed for me when it blew three fundamental plot points: (1) Bruce Wayne wouldn’t have lost his money, (2) just because a research project fails that doesn’t mean that you stop making money on the products that you already have and (3) the US wouldn’t have let a bomb keep them from charging into a city. As anyone who knows the stock market realized, when an emergency happens at the bourse all trading is suspended. Thus, those faked trades wouldn’t have been registered and Wayne wouldn’t have lost his money. Similarly, most research projects fail and yet the companies remain profitable. Why? Because they keep selling the goods that they already make. As for the bomb, it was silly at best. Now if Bane had threatened to release a virus and demonstrated it with the folks in the stadium, the government would have helped him keep them contained.

    PS – James Harvey, I liked Watchmen, too. Maybe we should start a support group?

  62. I love that not only did the Lego Movie make the list, but everyone else who has seen it included it on their lists without batting an eyelash. I embrace you, my people!

  63. Great, fun topic. I have a hard time ranking things in a clear-cut manner, so I’ll just do my top three with comments:

    1. The Dark Knight (no doubt)

    2 & 3. Struggle between Batman (1989) and Batman Begins. I just saw parts of Begins on TV again the other day and what I like best about it is that Bruce Wayne is the main character. I also like that we see Batman truly beginning, from doing the detective leg work of going through photos while sitting on his floor, to grinding out little bat-shurikens by hand. I also like that Alfred plays such a strong part of it all.

    (Okay, showing my nerd colors I guess.)

    The Dark Knight Rises was also on the other day and I have to say, it’s a pretty good, well thought out movie, but not what I consider to be a Batman movie. More of a depressing terrorist thriller with black costumes movie.

    Haven’t seen the Lego Movie yet but if everyone is ranking it so well here I’ll have to check it out.

  64. You really need to watch the animated DCAU series – the Timmverse or Diniverse however it’s called – as that is the definitive Batman outside of the comics.

    As for the movies:
    1) The Dark Knight
    2) Under the Red Hood
    3) Batman 1989
    4) Dark Knight Rises
    5) Batman Begins
    6) Mask of the Phantasm
    7) Batman Returns
    8) Batman Forever
    9) Mystery of the Batwoman
    10) SubZero
    11) Batman 1966
    12) Batman & Oh God Why Was This Movie Green-Lit?

  65. Had to laugh at #3: Just last night my husband was watching a bunch of episodes of “Batman: The Animated Series” and when I had to go into the living room for something and saw what he was watching, I chanted “Darkness! No parents!”

  66. I grew up with 1960s Bat and Boy Blunder,1989 took my Bat LURVE to another level.However 1989 Batman looks dated now,but at the time was such a hot movie.

    Chris Nolans trilogy are the top three…….Batman in the Lego movie steals the show.

    Respect to all Bat Fans out there…….

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