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11 Batman Films Ranked From Worst To Best

We can't believe 'The Dark Knight' is already 10 years old
by Emmanuel Calingacion | Jul 21, 2018
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10 years ago, The Dark Knight became a legitimate game changer when it hit the big screens all around the world. It made Hollywood, and us fans, realize comic book movie adaptations deserve our utmost respect and attention. Of course, Christopher Nolan established himself as one of the most bankable directors in Hollywood.

In honor of this blockbuster superhero film celebrating its 10-year anniversary, we reviewed all the other Batman movies pre- and post-The Dark Knight, and ranked their standing in the Cape Crusader’s rich big screen history.

11. Batman & Robin (1997)

Usually, “bat-nipples” is enough to describe how terrible this movie is. But we’re going to get detailed a little bit with Joel Schumacher’s second outing for a Batman movie, and how it killed the franchise. First of all, the set looked like a rough draft from a stage play design on Broadway. Even if the Joker was not in this movie, it was a complete joke, sillier and laughable than the ‘60s TV show. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dr. Freeze is ridiculous, and Uma Thurman's Poison Ivy is just sexed-up to distract us from the lack of character development. The title itself is even problematic: Robin first came into the franchise in the Batman Forever film, but why is he just then put into the title here? They made the right choice in replacing Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne, though. But even then, George Clooney’s charisma (or lack thereof) was never going to save this franchise from going six feet under.

10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

We all know this, Batman’s whole existence is based on one rule: justice without killing people. And then Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice just ignores that completely and they let him take his Bat-plane and shower everyone with large caliber bullets and make every goon explode. What’s up with that? We know Zack Snyder was going for a more sinister and grizzled Batman, but we didn’t think he’d go as far as tearing the very fiber that made the Caped Crusader who he is. The story is an absolute mess that's frequently interrupted by flashbacks and dreams that stops it from flowing evenly. Then there’s that Martha thing! Don’t even get us started there. As a whole, Batman and his alien frenemy Superman were overshadowed by Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who didn’t even need to say much to be more effective than the two guys.

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9. Batman Forever (1995)

The worst thing about this may just be the poor actor replacement. Val Kilmer taking on the mantle that Michael Keaton left was painful to watch. Nicole Kidman as the lusty psychologist trying to get into Bruce Wayne’s Batsuit was almost unsettling as it was boring. Tommy Lee Jones tried his best in his role as Two-Face, but it felt more cartoony and silly than insanely wicked. The only thing worth saving from this tragedy is Jim Carrey’s go-for-broke portrayal of The Riddler, a joyfully demented performance. If he worked under Burton or Nolan, he would’ve been unstoppable. Seal’s "Kiss From A Rose" might be a sweet touch for the soundtrack, but was a weird addition to an even stranger Batman flick.

8. Batman: The Movie (1966)

Many comic book fans detested the 1960s Batman TV show and held it in contempt for negatively impacting the comics’ image. It put a label on superheroes like Adam West’s Batman as flamboyant and ridiculously campy. Of course, we have to take into account that it was a different time and they had a different approach to doing things. It may not have the ambitions of the contemporary Batman films, but its heart was firmly in the right place. You just can’t hate the silly chaotic fight scenes, especially with the onscreen sound effects.

7. Justice League (2017)

One of the best things you can say about Justice League is that it’s not as terrible as Batman v Superman. Batman, like he was in BvS, was front and center in this movie, but Ben Affleck’s characterless portrayal of the Dark Knight lacked the charisma to make anyone believe he can lead a ragtag group of incompetent metahumans. Gal Gadot, again, steals the show. Batfleck tried so hard to be a figure of deep and philosophical darkness, but really, he’s just being a mopey pest, sucking any trace of fun out of this clumsy far-from-epic film.

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6. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)

This is a wild card that we just had to include. We’re just going to go ahead and say it: The LEGO Batman Movie is a pure parody full of laughs and pop culture references. Will Arnett’s tongue-in-cheek portrayal perfectly spoofed the Caped Crusader’s brooding big-screen persona. This, as expected, made fun of the grim nature of The Dark Knight trilogy, and the try-hard and terrible Zack Snyder flick, Batman v Superman. And this may have had the best Dick Grayson/Robin portrayal of all, with Michael Cera taking a shot at the fragile and adorable orphan who teaches the egotistic Batman how to get in touch with his feelings.

5. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The saddest thing about this movie is probably it being considered a letdown after following The Dark Knight. But it’s not as horrible as people think it is. Christian Bale’s broken-down Batman may have slowed down the first part of the film, but it gradually rose from the pits of dullness into a full-blown world take over. Tom Hardy, just like in every movie he’s in, is a massive force of nature with his unique and certainly unfathomable take on Bane, the man who broke the Bat. The football field scene was the biggest highlight of the film and triggered the third half of the movie into complete suspense. Anne Hathaway, though low-key, eased into the catsuit with an atypical take on Catwoman. The ending is something that will make you watch the movie all over again. Trust us, if you re-watch it, you’ll know what actually happened to Batman after he flew the bomb far out in the ocean.

4. Batman Begins (2005)

Christopher Nolan’s debut as the man behind the Caped Crusader’s mysterious form was nothing short of remarkable. This is arguably the template the DCEU is trying to incorporate in their films, but failing to do so because Nolan is a one-of-a-kind storyteller. The visionary took Bruce Wayne’s overdone childhood trauma seriously that it can be seen in Christian Bale’s portrayal of a detached and self-absorbed playboy who’s just hiding how damaged he really is. He becomes Batman not because he doesn’t know what else to do with his money. No. He desperately needed a way to drive out and get rid of the pain that’s tearing him apart from the inside. Plus, Gary Oldman and Michael Caine are two veteran actors that complemented Bale’s Batman well.

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3. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton’s vision was certainly integral in this franchise's success—his grittier and gothic take on the Batman image was one that fanboys thirsted for. Perching beside gargoyles and gliding from rooftops definitely made sure of that. And as much as Michael Keaton did a fantastic job as the edgier Caped Crusader, Jack Nicholson’s Joker effortlessly stole the spotlight. Their chemistry as dueling characters gave the movie spark: the Bat is a noble, but quiet and tortured hero, while his archenemy is a gloriously whacked-out clown liberated from existential chains.

2. Batman Returns (1992)

If the first outing of Michael Keaton as Batman opposite Jack Nicholson’s Joker was a big hit, this was twice as big, with two of the Caped Crusader’s most prominent adversaries being introduced. With Tim Burton’s whimsical hand at work, three souls in pain collided for catharsis that was palpable for fans of the Bats. An abandoned and oily Penguin, played by Danny DeVito, seeks acceptance from the world above the sewers. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman is sexy and scary but is perpetually at risk of spiraling magnificently out of control. And of course, there's Batman, lost and terrified, afraid to lose his mask and free himself up to some brutal honesty.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

This dark, complex, and unforgettable Batman narrative remains a cut above the rest. It wasn’t a simple superhero blockbuster, but also a compelling edge-of-your-seat thriller. Mainly, it’s all because of neat and well-executed character developments, especially for the most iconic and provocative Joker to date, brought to life by the late Heath Ledger. His version of the Clown Prince of Crime was a menace so petrifying and indecipherable, a force pulled from somewhere deep within the method actor. Ledger remains to be the only actor who has won an Academy Award for a role in a superhero movie. The Dark Knight should be the standard every Batman movie is measured against for the foreseeable future.

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