I ranked the live action Batman movies (as you do when you’ve wasted a lifetime on comics). I did not include the early serials as quite frankly, I haven’t watched them.
There’s a lot of reading to this, I could have written an essay on each one, you don’t have to read it…
Keep your protests and outrage civil please…
The Dark Knight - yes it’s the obvious choice and yes it’s got flaws but grounding of Batman in the “real” world is the perfect tone for him, and never has their been a better Joker interpretation. Sending Batman to Hong Kong, that cityscape fits the character perfectly, Oldman’s Jim Gordon is the hero we all need, more than any other actor Bale understands the Wayne facade/Batman/real Wayne role better than anyone. Zimmers’ soundtrack is phenomenal. It also opened many eyes to the type of movie possible that could come from a comic book.
Batman Begins - I think a very overlooked movie, establishing everything that’s fleshed out in Dark Knight. It’s lean and draws you in immediately. Has the balls not to introduce Batman for the 1st hour and carries it. The first real movie about Bruce Wayne. Great interpretations of Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow.
Batman - Tim Burtons’ original is still a lot of fun, and has a wonderful style, with Gothamites still wearing hats and suits. Nicholson is great as the Joker, Keaton plays a terrific Batman and the whole thing is a carried with a wink and does a wonderful job of setting a darker tone for a character most people still associated with the 60’s show.
Batman Returns - Nice to see a bit more of Batman in this one, Pieffers Catwoman is “cracking” and DeVito’s Penguin grotesque. All gets a bit silly at the end with the penguins with missiles on their backs and not as good as the Burton original.
Batman (1966) - This movie is just too much fun. It’s nonsensical and stupid and a great laugh and trip down memory lane for fans of the 60’s show. It gave us bat shark repellant and “sometimes you just can’t get rid of a bomb”.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - I gotta say I find this movie a compelling curiosity. The choice to make Batman “older” I always felt was a strange choice (Zak, if you just wanted to make The Dark Knight Returns go make it) and Batman killing just makes him a nut. Henry Cavill is a little less wooden as Clark/Superman than Man of Steel but it’s a movie my that badly needs an injection of humor and fun, a sense of exciting adventure to see these characters in one movie. Affleck handles the role well, the Knightmare scene is fab.
Justice League- like the prior movie on this list, I don’t hate it. It’s a fun movie and the characters carry it well. I like Affleck’s interpretation less in this (is that a wig he’s wearing? It’s just weird) and the movie has its obvious flaws, but it’s a movie I can throw on and watch and escape with the world when I don’t need to be challenged mentally.
Batman Forever - I’ll admit I loved this movie when it came out. Never crazy about Kilmer, but it had some comic book “colour” and elaborate traps I appreciated, Batman smiling, which was refreshing and him being witty “it’s the car, chicks dig the car” “try firemen, less to take off”. We get Robin. And my favourite Batman villain, Riddler. It’s aged horribly.
Batman & Robin - it’s an awful movie. George I still think could have been a better Batman in a better movie. As terrible as it is I still have fun watching the silliness and it does have a bit of heart and a lovely moment between Bruce and Alfred “I love you old man” “And I love you, son”.
The Dark Knight Rises - I have not given this movie a 2nd chance. Not only do I think it’s Chris Nolan’s worst Batman movie, I believe it’s Chris Nolan’s worst movie, period. It’s not a Batman movie, it’s Die Hard in Gotham. Batman is hardly in it for crying out loud. I have no idea why you’re in this movie Matthew Modine or why we need your character. I never got on board with Bruce Wayne giving up the Batman mantle and a being a broke down recluse. The characters of Wayne and Gordon that were established in the prior 2 movies are completely undone and I feel horribly betrayed. As an invested audience member, I felt betrayed. Bane becomes a parody of the weird voice Tom Hardy chose and carries no where near the sense of threat that Joker does. He’s a boring character. They obviously couldn’t get enough extras for the “Battle of Gotham”. How does Gotham avoid being covered in nuclear radiation? This movie still makes me angry (as you can tell). Anne Hathaway is surprisingly great.