Batman. He is one of the most iconic superheroes of all time with legions of fans, hundreds of stories, and known as a crucial character in the DC Universe. This character is so iconic that he has been interpreted in many different ways by many different actors. Most recently we will be seeing Ben Affleck taking on the iconic role and donning the infamous cowl. Before we move on to the future of Batman I think it’s best we take a look at the past theatrically released Batman films and see how well they rank up. I will go over which films stand the test of time. So, from the very worst to the very best Batman film here is my personal ranking. Now with any ranking of films there will be difference of opinions. I implore you to write your own ranking in the comments below and to share which films you love the most. Now on with the ranking!
9. Batman & Robin (1997)
Not only considered the worst Batman film it is also knows as being one of the worst films of all time. Joel Schumacher’s disaster is well known for having George Clooney star in the film alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays an incredibly over the top portrayal of Mr. Freeze constantly spewing ice related puns as the film becomes more and more painful. Its tone is that of a humorous cartoon that falls flat on its face. It is a film that fails on so many levels and had a massive negative impact on the comic book movie genre. This film was the last nail in the coffin of the first Batman film series.
8. Batman Forever (1995)
Before Schumacher took a swing at Batman & Robin he was given the reigns for Batman on Batman Forever. A film that is significantly better it is one that has Val Kilmer in the titular role with Tommy Lee Jones and Jim carrey playing Two-Face and The Riddler respectively. The film has a more wacky edge to it which works in its favor for Jim Carrey and its detriment for Tommy Lee Jones. It is a mixed bag of a film that has some strengths, but a lot of weaknesses which is why it is fairly low on this ranking.
7. Batman: The Movie (1966)
The 1960s Batman TV Series was a smash hit and launched Batman into the mainstream so it was inevitable that a big screen adaptation was released and unlike a lot of Batman stories this show and film was extremely comedic. Adam West and Burt Ward play Batman and Robin and they have this hilarious chemistry that carries this film and makes it endearing in a fun and goofy way which is drastically different from the rest of the Batman films.
6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The final entry of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy concludes the storyline of the series and wraps it up in an interesting way. It took a lot of liberties and changed a whole lot. Some of these changes were for the best and some for the worst. The film’s villain Bane was a stand out character. A grand departure from the comics, but was so visually unique and interesting. It closed out the trilogy fittingly, but it’s minor issues with writing holds it back from being at the top of this particular ranking.
5. Batman Returns (1992)
The sequel to the smash hit Batman (1989) has Tim Burton back in the director’s chair and this film shows off much more of Burton’s visual style. The addition of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny Devito as The Penguin really make this film stand out. Their performances along with the unique energy makes it feel like it’s own thing. A crazy and interesting meld of Burton’s creativity.
4. Batman Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The only animated theatrically released film based on Batman. Mask of the Phantasm is a spin-off feature from the hit animated show. The film is dark and somber and has all of the complexities that any Batman story should have. Beautifully animated, voiced, and scripted it is certainly an excellent entry that deserves recognition.
3. Batman Begins (2005)
When Christopher Nolan reinvented the Batman franchise he made a splash with this film in 2005. It took Batman to a darker place in addition to having excellent writing, directing, acting and cinematography that gave this version of Batman a level of depth not seen before. The film was a huge success and launched the Dark Knight Trilogy making this worthy of a high spot on this list.
2. Batman (1989)
The film that really brought Batman into mainstream popularity. Tim Burton was given the opportunity to show his talent as a filmmaker using Batman and he knocked it out of the park. It is a film that still holds and while it may not be the most faithful screen adaptation of Batman it managed to get a lot right. It is a fun film that has a unique sense of style and action that only a visionary like Burton could have brought to life. It still holds up as an entertaining superhero film that does the character justice.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
The number one film and my personal choice for the best Batman film is this 2008 juggernaut. The film came out and broke box office records and was met with critical acclaim and I can certainly see why this is the case. It is a dark and complicated Nolan film with several twists, turns, and unique aspects that give the film an edge to it. An edge that remains on multiple viewings. One of the most stand out elements was the late Heath Ledger giving a phenomenal performance as the Joker. A performance that garnered him an Oscar. The Dark Knight is a film that definitely deserves its spot at the top.
It is telling that there have been 9 Batman films. Batman lends himself to be a character that can be used to make great films and as Batman V. Superman ramps up to hit theaters in just over a month I believe that it is safe to say that Batman will be around for a long time.