Batman Films: Best to Worst
3640 6.7 71. Batman Returns (1992)
I see this film as vastly underrated. Tim Burton's return after the 1989 film's immense success was simply a better film. It's one of those rare cases, as in #2 of the countdown, where a director (not to mention the rest of the production team) identified the weak points of the first installment and refined the sequel into a truly decent movie. Yes, I do have issues with Catwoman's origin, but Michelle Pfeiffer's performance more than makes up for it. Danny DeVito is the perfect Penguin. Don't forget, this is a Tim Burton movie, and everything he makes is, inexorably, a Tim Burton movie. That brings in the issue of taste. Perhaps that is the defining factor in making Returns my #1. Sorry...Jack Nicholson just isn't enough to tip the balance.
5973 8.4 92. The Dark Knight (2008)
I don't have to convince you that this is a good movie. Everyone knows that. I'm glad they didn't bother with a Joker origin, as most fans agree the Alan Moore Red Hood yarn is a bit on the cheesy side, as shown in Tim Burton's first Batman film. While they still haven't managed a true adaptation, there are many obvious influences taken directly from the comics, and I appreciate that. I only have a couple beefs. As much as I like Christian Bale, and I think he makes a great Bruce Wayne, I don't like his Batman voice. I've seen enough parody videos online to know I'm not alone on that one. Also, not only did they change the Harvey Dent origin, apparently they killed him off in the first hour of his life. I mean...why? He's one of the coolest villains because he used to be close friends with Batman and Commissioner Gordon. Lots of potential they sorta wasted there. I'm just sayin'. Still, good movie.
4267 7.1 7.63. Batman (1989)
See, this is what bugs me about this movie. According to Tim Burton interviews, his biggest influence was The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. As someone who's read that book more than once, I must say, it's a challenge to find those influences in the movie. I mean, everything's different: the book takes place in the future; Bruce Wayne is older, retired, and restless; Gotham is borderline dystopian, almost reminiscent of Mad Max or the original Robocop. The Joker origin in Burton's Batman movie is kind of a backwards take on Alan Moore's origin from the Killing Joke...in the comic, the unnamed pre-Joker is a young failed standup comedian with a wife and family who is basically duped into an ill-fated chemical factory robbery. In the movie, Jack Napier is, well, F-ing Jack Nicholson and what the hell else do you need to know? Frank Miller's famous Caped Crusader rendition is the gray uniform with black bat symbol and small horns, stocky and broad-chested, crazy, and a little mean. Tim Burton went with - well, a shiny yellow chest symbol and Michael Keaton. Besides my nit-picky fanboy gripes, it was still an important milestone as far as comic book movies proving to studios they can make a boatload of money.
5942 7.5 8.34. Batman Begins (2005)
The Chris Nolan/Christian Bale reboot proved a huge success. Like I mentioned before, I think Christian Bale makes a very strong Bruce Wayne (probably because of Patrick Bateman in American Psycho), but a weak Batman. Luckily, he's just Bruce Wayne through most of it. As far as comics influence, I was glad that they put more effort into explaining the levels of corruption in Gotham City (and using mobsters from Year One and Long Halloween, well done), elevating the city itself to a major character. That's one consistency I've noticed in all of the Batman writing: Gotham is his city.
3267 5.3 5.45. Batman Forever (1995)
A few bonus points for Jim Carrey as the Riddler (perfect casting choice and definitely a good career move for him), but that's pretty much the only justification I have for this one. Tommy Lee Jones, great actor, went way, way over the top with Two-Face, and Chris O'Donnell was too old to be Robin. I guess some audiences have a problem with a guys in a cape toting around a 13 year old boy. I get it - it sounds bad when you put it that way. Bruce adopted the kid! Oh yeah...it was a pretty decent soundtrack for the times.
2997 4.3 3.66. Batman & Robin (1997)
This is the ultimate Batman rape scene. Everything about this movie is wrong. Nothing about Arnold's physicality helps along the Mr. Freeze character...so what exactly did he have to contribute? Uma Thurman could have done a decent Poison Ivy, but her "plants taking over the earth" scheme really sucked out any potential danger with her character. Read the comics, y'all! Neil Gaiman wrote a great little story about Pamela Isely using her feminine wiles to romance and eventually poison an FBI officer. They literally couldn't have made Batgirl lamer. Why in the world would they invent a niece for Alfred? In the comics, she was Commissioner Gordon's daughter. Then the Joker paralyzed her and she became Oracle, one of Batman's most trusted and valuable allies. That's approximately five hundred times more interesting than what they came up with. I don't even want to bring up Bane. I could go on and on, but other funnier, smarter people have already said it. Blech.
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