As a lifelong fan of Batman, I can’t tell you how started I was to realize that I hadn’t published my rankings of the films yet. I’ve ranked Spider-Man movies, the entire MCU, and even Joker portrayals, but I haven’t stopped to rank my favorite superhero movies ever. I’m deeply, deeply ashamed.
Here, I rectify that.
Why Do We Fall: Ranking the Batman Movies (So Far)
9. Batman & Robin (1997)
I hate everything about this movie, and I’m a huge fan of both Batman and Arnold Schwarzenegger. From the criminal waste of Bane as a character to Arnie’s puns to those DAMN NIPPLES, I hate this movie.
This movie is so bad that Joel Schumacher has an entire section on his wikipedia page titled “Post-Batman Career,” and the famous director has apologized for making the movie.
Okay Joel, you’re forgiven… but only because I love The Lost Boys so much.
8. Batman vs. Superman (2016)
I’m torn about this movie. Make no mistake, I absolutely hate the DCCU with the exception of Shazam! and Wonder Woman (even though it’s literally just Captain America: The First Avenger, but okay), but I didn’t hate Ben Affleck as Batman. I thought he did a good job as damaged Bruce Wayne, and was a believable enough Batman. I also quite liked Jeremy Irons as Alfred.
But everything else about this movie is dreadful. Jesse Eisenberg would’ve made a great Riddler, but was a poor Lex Luthor. Introducing Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Batman, and Doomsday in the same movie was far too much, especially wasting the legendary “Death of Superman” angle in only his second movie.
Such a waste by a bad studio trying too hard to keep up with the Disney machine.
7, Batman Forever (1995)
Here’s a confession, this is my favorite Batman movie. Yup, this dreadful, horrible movie with Val Kilmer, over the top villains, and that Seal song, it’s my favorite.
However… it is objectively bad. Jim Carrey Jim Carrey’s a little too hard, and it seeps over into Tommy Lee Jones’ performance, ruining the Harvey Dent character. And Val Kilmer is just so boring as Batman, it’s hard to care about much of anything.
Dynamite soundtrack though.
6. Batman (1966)
I’ve got a lot of love for Adam West’s Batman. It’s very silly, obviously, but it’s a reflection of the time. Batman’s gritty, dark portrayal was still decades away in 1966, and that shouldn’t be held against it. It doesn’t quite hold up today, but for the time? It’s just wonderful.
Plus, it’s got this scene. And it’s just cinematic perfection.
5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Regrettably, the finale to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is the worst of the three. Still one of the best Batman movies, but it doesn’t quite reach the same standard as the other two.
That’s not to say it’s a bad film. Tom Hardy’s Bane finally shows the signature intellectualism of the character, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal of not-Robin is great, and this film gives us the longest, most honest uninterrupted look at Bruce Wayne, the man under the cowl. Plus, Michael Caine turns in his best Alfred performance in this movie.
But it has some iffy plotholes, feels about 20 minutes too long, and has some really questionable plot twists.
4. Batman (1989)
I’m not a fan of Tim Burton, but I certainly do love this movie. I think Michael Keaton, an unconventional casting choice at the time, absolutely crushes it as Bruce Wayne. He can be a stand-up yuppie in public, but brooding and stoic behind the scenes, and doesn’t feel out of place in the suit (like you did, GEORGE.).
And as far as accurate to comic portrayals go, I think Jack Nicholson’s Joker is Hamilesque in accuracy. Even as he’s teetering towards the edge and certain death, he maintains his ruthless, chipper insanity.
Not to mention, and I don’t think he gets enough credit for this, Michael Gough was a brilliant Alfred in all of the 80’s/90’s Batman movies.
3. Batman Returns (1992)
Credit so much of my love for this movie to Danny Elfman’s music, brilliant casting, and surprisingly impressive film-making from Tim Burton. This film best captures Batman, in my opinion. It’s dark and gritty, but still maintains that campy fun feel. This movie is genuinely disturbing at points, but can still be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Plus, Danny DeVito never misses.
Hmm… something about Batman sequels exceeding the standards of the original…
2. Batman Begins (2005)
After Joel Schumaker’s disaster killed off the previous Batman saga, DC hired Christopher Nolan to revive the caped crusader. He cast “American Psycho” star, Christian Bale over the likes of Joshua Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Liam Neeson’s turn as Ras Al Ghul finally gives the iconic villain the mainstream spotlight, Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow is a scene-stealer, and this film completely reinvented Batman for a new generation of fans.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Was there ever really any doubt? The Dark Knight, led by Heath Ledger’s groundbreaking portrayal of the Joker, changed the way we look at comic book movies. Nowhere near as campy or fun as Batflicks past, the Dark Knight might just be the best comic book movie ever made.
What is there to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said 1,000 times? It shows us the twisted brilliance of the Joker, the true love/hate dynamic of his relationship with Batman, and asks many questions about the true nature of humanity.
I really wish Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face was as good as his Harvey Dent, but I guess you sacrifice some of the comic book elements in order to produce a grittier, more realistic film.
So that’s our list, what did you think? Should some movies have been higher? Lower? What do you think Matt Reeves’ The Batman is going to be like? Let us know in the comments below.