Every theatrical Batman film ranked


    A couple of weeks ago, “Batman v Superman” hit the big screens and has been raking in the money ever since. I’ve now seen it three times, so I think it’s a great time to rank all of the Batman films, from his highest perch in Gotham to his lowest garbage he’s delved in.


    #10. “Batman: The Movie” (1966)


    This really is the lowest of lows for the Dark Knight. From the bomb disposal to the surfing with the Joker to the bat shark repellent, this is almost a spoof instead of a Batman film. The whole premise is silly and embarrassing, the characters all suck, and the film is just plain boring, and the film had the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman, and the Joker in it, so I guess overstuffing as well. It took Batman 23 years before he got another film, and I have a good idea of why.


    Grade: F


    #9. “Batman & Robin” (1997)


    The film that almost killed superhero films entirely. Filled with crappy puns and awful acting, “Batman & Robin” tried to recapture the cheese of the 60’s TV show, and boy did it fail horribly. The film has Oscar nominee Uma Thurman and Oscar winner George Clooney giving performances far more deserving of Razzies than everything else. Director Joel Schumacher is pretty solid (“Falling Down” and “The Lost Boys”), however this little stinker of a film will forever taint his reputation. The best thing about the film? It led to Warner Bros. rebooting the franchise with “Batman Begins.”


    Grade: D


    #8. “Batman Forever” (1995)


    This was the first of the two Joel Schumacher directed bat films, and while “Batman & Robin” is definitely the worst of the two, “Batman Forever” is no peach either. Chris O’Donnell is annoying as Robin the Boy Wonder and Tommy Lee Jones is doing his awful Jack Nicholson impression as Two-Face. There are good things about the film, however. Val Kilmer was a solid Batman, the story had some nice dark elements to it, and Jim Carrey was hilarious as Jim Car…. I mean The Riddler. Other than that, there’s nothing much more to it. A decently fun film, but instantly forgettable.


    Grade: C


    #7. “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)


    To date, “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” is the only animated superhero film that was released theatrically. Many have never seen the film, but they really should. Serving as both a prequel and sequel to “Batman: The Animated Series,” the film revolves around a new villain, The Phantasm. The music by Shirley Walker is haunting, the voice acting is incredibly well done, and the film gets pretty dark for a kids movie at times. When the film was released in December ‘93, the film completely tanked, which is a great shame considering it’s better than not just most animated films but most superhero films in general.


    Grade: B+


    #6. “Batman Returns” (1992)


    Coming in at number six is definitely the weirdest Batman movie to date, “Batman Returns.” In this, Catwoman actually has nine lives, the Penguin is raised as a child in the sewers by actual penguins, and the film contains elements seen more in horror films than in a comic book movie. In fact, the movie was so dark that McDonald’s actually pulled their tie-in with the movie in fear that parents would complain that they promoted the film for kids. There are sex jokes, scenes with blood spurting, and Batman flat out killing people. And you know what else? It’s amazing! Sure, it’s not faithful to the comic books, but it is a whole lot of fun with great performances across the board. The sets are terrific, the music is haunting, and atmosphere is a mix between a halloween movie and a Christmas movie. In essence, it’s a hardcore PG-13 “Nightmare Before Christmas” with the Batman. How could you go wrong?


    Grade: A-


    #5. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)


    While not a solo film, “Batman v Superman” is the most recent incarnation of the character, making him older, faster, and more brutal than ever. Ben Affleck is phenomenal as the Caped Crusader, easily up there in the ranks of Christian Bale and Michael Keaton as the best Batmen ever. On top of the Batman elements, the rest of the movie is really good as well. The acting was very good, the action was the best I’ve seen in quite some time, and it’s the most faithful comic book adaption to date. If you want to see what a comic book Batman is more or less like, than this is the Batman interpretation for your liking.The movie has had quite the mixed reaction, as it has varied from people loving it to despising it. I am most certainly in the love it camp and I’ve already seen it twice with a third viewing probably coming on Friday. I highly recommend it.


    Grade: A


    #4. “Batman” (1989)

    33 years after the atrocious mess collectively known as “Batman: the Movie,” Warner Bros. decided to reboot the franchise in 1989 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the character. Now I don’t usually say this, but thank God for director Tim Burton. While Burton has directed this, “Batman Returns,” and “Frankenweenie,” he’s also made his fare share of crap such as “Planet of the Apes” and “Mars Attacks!” This movie, though, is his best work to date in my opinion. The set design is some of the most beautiful ever created. In fact, it was so good that it won the Oscar that year for Art Direction. Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson are both great as Batman and The Joker, respectfully, and Danny Elfman provides one of the greatest movie scores of all time.


    Grade: A+


    #3. “Batman Begins” (2005)


    Following Joel Schumacher’s atrocious mess “Batman & Robin,” Warner Bros. rebooted the franchise in 2005 with “Batman Begins.” Not only was it a successful reboot, but, at the time, was the best Batman movie. Christian Bale was fantastic as Batman and the dark, gritty, realistic tone brought a much needed change to the franchise which had previously been bogged down by the campy, childish tone of the past two in the franchise. Director Christopher Nolan is easily one of the best directors working today, and it was this film that powerfully cemented this status. Gary Oldman and Michael Caine became the best Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, respectfully, meanwhile Morgan Freeman was a great addition as Wayne’s faithful tech wiz Lucius Fox.


    Grade: A+


    #2. “The Dark Knight” (2008)   


    Not too much to say here. It basically took everything that “Batman Begins” did well and somehow improved upon it. Most notably, it was the action that improved, something that was not always executed the best in the previous installment. The addition of Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face was stunning and the decision to replace Katie Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal was one of the best movie recasts ever done. The best thing about the film, as almost anyone can tell you, was Heath Ledger as The Joker. He was charismatic, menacing, and sometimes funny, easily making the argument that his portrayal was the best villain performance of all time. Not to mention, it was because of the Best Picture snub of this film that the Academy expanded the nominees from five to ten. It was just that good.


    Grade: A+


    #1. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
    Some might be shocked that I think this is better than “The Dark Knight,” but I truly believe that this is the superior film. First off, I think Tom Hardy as Bane was just as good as Heath Ledger’s Joker, the story was far better, and it was here that Christian Bale was cemented as the best Batman ever put on screen. The scale of the film was something of truly epic proportions as this film really felt like the end of a story. The stakes were raised to 11 here as well to the point that the film had you believe that Batman might actually perish in his own film. Anne Hathaway was great as Catwoman, even better than Michelle Pfeiffer from “Batman Returns” in my opinion, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Mendelsohn, and Marion Cotillard were all welcome additions to an already great cast. To be honest, this is my absolute favorite film of all time. It took my favorite character in any medium and showed what makes him so great in the first place.


    Grade: A+