The Batman hits theaters now, which means it’s time for DC fans to revamp their Batman movie rankings! Below, you’ll find newly updated rankings for the Batman movies, ranked from least favorite to best of all time. Where does The Batman get into the list? See for yourself!
[NOTE: The movies in consideration for this list are DC theatrical movies that all focus on Batman as the primary character. That means a film like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is eligible, but Zack Snyder’s Justice League is not. All of the other Batman films in consideration are clear-cut cases.]
11. Batman Forever
The fact that Joel Schumacher got two chances to direct Batman movies is still incredible. But again: Jim Carrey was a scene stealer as the Riddler; Val Kilmer wasn’t a bad Batman; Nicole Kidman was a stunner, and Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” is a classic. batman forever was not a total loss.
10. The Dark Knight Rises
The Return of Christopher Nolan’s Crime Thriller Masterpiece (The black Knight) to this strange and confusing finale to the Dark Knight Trilogy left so many fans disappointed. From Nolan’s perspective on Bane (a scrambled Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (“Selina Kyle” by Anne Hathway); to the baffling choice to remove Batman for much of the story and the “twist” everyone saw coming a mile away (Talia al Ghul by Marion Cotillard), The dark knight rises is a masterclass in wasted potential.
9. The LEGO Batman Movie
Arguably more of a Batman movie parody than a Batman movie – but also arguably better than some Batman movies that ended up looking like parodies (see above). the LEGO Batman Movie is an irreverent portrayal of the character of Batman and the various ways he’s been portrayed in media – but also a touching character story about Bruce Wayne’s emotional damage and his real need to fix it. It’s not exactly going to scratch your itch for an exciting Batman movie – but as an introduction for kids that also offers a humorous breakdown of the character for adults, it’s nice to have.
8. Batman (1966)
The show was quirky, funny, and a groundbreaking step for superhero television; the movie was all of those same things for superhero movies. With its large cast of “event” villains (Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman) and cross-platform connection (TV show and movie), Batman ’66 now looks even more revolutionary. A showcase of classic actors (Adam West, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero) and still classic tropes (Bat-Shark-Repellent FTW!). Easily the most “fun” Batman movie we’ve ever had.
7. Batman vs. Superman: Ultimate Edition
Nobody supports this theatrical mess, but batman versus superman‘s Ultimate Edition was a deep story of who both Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) are, as defined by the context of the modern world, and each other. For all the gripes people had about this movie (and there were a lot), Zack Snyder’s choice of Ben Affleck as the Batman turned out to be a smart one. Despite his confused place in the franchise, Affleck has remained in discussion as arguably the best Batman actor of the bunch. This movie is the reason.
6. Batman Returns
Tim Burton’s second Batman movie set a strange precedent for the franchise, where one villain just wasn’t enough, and Batman seemed to be swallowed up by his movie’s villains. In the case of Return of Batman, those villains were Danny DeVito’s Penguin, Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman, and Christopher Walken’s evil tycoon Max Shreck. So we were (mostly) good with that. Plus, it’s hard to find a good Batman movie that also doubles as a Christmas movie…
5. Batman Begins
Christopher Nolan entered the Batman film franchise’s dead envelope as a relatively unknown indie filmmaker with a quirky storytelling signature. Like Burton before him, nobody really expected big things from a Nolan Batman movie – and few were thrilled when the English director assembled a cast of mostly British actors (Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson , Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson) to portray iconic DC Comics characters. Katie Holmes remains one of the greatest examples of miscasting in superhero movies (hence why she was later recast), and Batman’s voice and the stiff-collared costume of Bale also needed improvement.
batman begins‘ The non-linear storytelling in its first act and the “grounded and grounded” take on Batman drew a large following upon its theatrical release ($373.7 million worldwide on a $150 million budget). However, the strength of Nolan’s vision and a traditional superhero boss battle with third-act twist helped wider mainstream audiences experience and enjoy the film on home video. This slow-burning success saw Nolan return and blow the world away with his second Batman movie…
4. The Batman
Director Matt Reeves has created the most breathtaking take on Batman and Gotham City yet – and Robert Pattinson has overcome early skepticism to deliver a unique, nuanced and compelling take on the Batman character. Plus, Pattinson can look better than any other actor in his Batsuit. Although not perfect, The Batman finally delivered a Batman detective story worthy of the character.
Full spoiler-free review of The Batman HERE
3. Batman: Mask of Phantasm
Right now, the Batman animated movies might fill their own ranking list – but only one stands out as a true piece of theatrical cinema. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm hit theaters when the creative team behind the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series (Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett) was at his peak. The film is equal parts powerful Batman (and Bruce Wayne) character drama, a good detective story tied to Batman lore, and the introduction of a new breakout character: Phantasm. The fact that a canonized Phantasm Batman story is currently being told in DC Comics (Tom King’s Batman/Catwoman) is a testament to what this “cartoon” has achieved.
2. Batman (1989)
Tim Burton, Michael Keaton, and Jack Nicholson were far from the most household names to most DC fans when a Batman movie aired in the late ’80s. Keaton was known for being a comedic actor; Nicholson was a top man/sex symbol and Burton was master of his own weird world of filmmaking – Prince managing the soundtrack was an even weirder addition to the creative mix.
And yet, despite the early “backlash” (for what it was in the pre-internet days), Batman ’89 became a landmark success that did for the Dark Knight everything Richard Donner had done for Superman. In reality, Batman ’89 didn’t just make Batman a successful mainstream movie star – with its black costume and darker gothic themes, the film single-handedly redefined the entire character of Batman. It also showed why villains can be just as deep and dramatically compelling as their hero counterparts (see: Joker).
1. The Dark Knight
Nolan’s Batman movie masterpiece is still the best of the bunch. The black Knight isn’t just a Batman movie: it’s one of the best crime thriller movies ever made, with one of the best villain performances of any movie, period (Heath Ledger’s Joker). More precisely : The black Knight is one of the best Batman stories, of any medium, to truly to have the character and his deepest themes – and then, offering audiences results and messages that were far from the black/white, good/evil divide of classic comic books (and their film adaptations).
Since Nolan did The black Knight, Batman, and DC Comics stories as a whole have been much freer in marrying sophisticated artistry and comic book pulp in a fine brew (see: DC Black Label). It’s easy to see how the current generation of Batman storytellers have been influenced by Nolan’s work – especially The black Knight.
Will Matt Reeves finally overthrow the king of the Batman movies with his own sequel film? Where do you rank The Batman like the best? Let us know in the comments!